This weeeks council meeting was called to discuss the policies in the Cornwall Local Plan which we were asked to agree for consultation before it goes to the Planning Inspectorate. The main issues were around renewable energy and the number of new houses which will be required throughout Cornwall in the next 20 years.
The renewable energy debate centred around turbines, with added weight being given to the need to protect Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the coasts and moors. I welcome this but was disappointed that although some words were used about overbearing impacts on habitations there was no guidance on set-off distances. This means that planning committees are still being asked to make subjective decisions on what is or is not acceptable.
The decision on future housing numbers was a compromise between the lower figure generally favoured by members and the higher one which officers thought they would be able to defend at the plan examination. There was pressure from three areas who wanted more houses in their towns (to stimulate economic growth) to add around 3000 to the lower figure and this was passed.
The motion to freeze councillors basic allowance was also passed. As a further step in this direction I believe that the Special Responsibility Allowances should be cut dramatically, with none of them being more that the basic allowance and that no one should be able to claim more than one SRA. The proposer of the freeze motion (the ex Leader who was voted out in October) cost Cornwall more than any other councillor has ever done during his time in the office due to the inflated amounts awarded. These were set when it was expected that the basic allowance would be £18,000 rather than £12,000 as now and so need to be reduced by at least a third and I believe by half.