Parish Council report

Withiel Parish Council is seriously concerned that the money promised to the Parish as compensation for the establishment of the solar farm at Kerriers – a total of £35,000 – may not be paid. The Council has always been dubious about the promised money because of anecdotal evidence of renewables companies selling their assets, thus avoiding having to pay what was due to communities. The Council originally opted to take the Kerriers money as a lump sum rather than in instalments over ten years because of its worries that the money could disappear. At a meeting with executives of Munich-based  Kronos Solar GmbH, the company that developed the solar farm, Parish Council Chairman Sue Kirkby asked directly whether the obligation to pay compensation to communities under what’s called ‘Section 106’ would carry over to new owners if the installation was sold, and was assured that it would.

It is now believed that Kerriers was sold even before the mud was dry on the road, with Kronos capitalising on the asset while a new company invested to draw the 25 years of guaranteed subsidies. The problems raised by contract-flipping were raised at a meeting of the Bodmin Community Forum, a network of parish councils in the area, attended by Councillor Kirkby and Councillor Shearer, who reported to the August 6 meeting of Withiel Parish Council that other parishes were experiencing problems in getting their money when wind turbine and solar farm companies sold on assets. It appeared that despite assurances, there was no obligation on the new company to pay the funds.

Councillor Kirkby said she had written to Kronos to find out what was happening. So far she has received no reply. She was researching at the Land Registry to find out who now owned the solar farm. The loss of £35,000 would be a serious blow to Withiel, where the precept – the council tax paid to the Parish – is less than £5,000.

The establishment of another wind turbine, this one 230 feet high, and the further extension of the cattle shed at Great Brynn Barton. Both of these developments are being opposed by the Parish Council. Several members of the public attended the meeting to express their concern at existing nuisance from the development, and worries about its expansion. It was thought that conditions attached to the original planning permission had not been dealt with, particularly with regard to landscaping and the disposal of foul effluent, which ran onto the road and into neighbouring properties. County Councillor Chris Batters was requested to call these applications in so they could be debated at the Planning Committee rather than agreed between the developer and a planning officer.

The wind turbine – almost as high as those nearby on the Parish boundary at Roche – is opposed on the grounds of cumulative impact and failure to consult local people. County Councillor Batters agreed a site visit would be in order.

The Council agreed unanimously to support an application by Nick Parsons for the erection of 10 cat boarding chalets in his garden at Homer Park.

County Councillor Batters reported that the bridge at Ruthernbridge will be closed on October 13th for repairs to the broken parapet. There was still no word from English heritage as to what might be done in the longer term to safeguard the Grade II listed bridge.

Councillor Batters also reported on a site visit he’d attended on Friday July 25th following the Parish Council’s request to have the road between Withielgoose and Withiel inspected by County Council engineers; Councillors Harper and Coy had also attended, and repairs will be scheduled for this year. A damaged section of the Withiel Road has been patched.

We agreed to spend £215 on a laptop computer and data sticks for the new Clerk, Robin Turner, whose first official meeting this was; we’ve also spent £95.80 on the Community Questionnaire and Emergency Plan, which we hope you’ve all got by now. Matters pertaining to footpath maintenance and the opening of the Tregawne footbridge were also dealt with; the next Parish Council meeting will be on September 3rd at 7:15pm. – Pat Malone