One of Cornwall’s most well-known hotels, the five-star Headland overlooking Fistral Beach in Newquay, has put forward plans to install 464 solar panels in its grounds.

The hotel intends to generate its own power through this eco-friendly initiative, demonstrating its commitment to environmental consciousness.

However, the proposal has sparked opposition from some quarters due to concerns about its visual impact on the area.

A sustainable step for the Headland Hotel

The Headland Hotel’s proposal involves placing 464 photo voltaic panels in five rows, covering an area of more than 4,900 square feet (459 square metres) on Towan Head.

The panels would be enclosed by 6.5-foot (2-meter) high fencing and are expected to have a lifespan of 25 years.

The hotel management has expressed its dedication to reducing its environmental impact and has already taken steps to enhance the energy efficiency of its 125-year-old clifftop building.

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By implementing the solar array, they aim to decrease their carbon footprint by 70 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and reduce their reliance on the National Grid by 30%.

Opposition concerns and perspectives

While the Headland Hotel emphasises the importance of sustainability and aims to use the power generated solely for its consumption, opponents of the project worry about the visual consequences.

Newquay Town Council, among others, believes that the scale of the proposed array is unsuitable for the location and may adversely visually affect the landscape.

The Victorian Society also raised objections, expressing concerns about the impact on the setting of a listed building. There are 30 opposing comments on Cornwall Council’s planning applications website.

Along with fears over the solar panels’ visual impact, other issues raised include glare affecting aircraft, potential harm to local nature, site overdevelopment and the lack of a visual impact assessment.

The path forward

On 7 August 2023, Cornwall Council’s central sub-area planning committee is set to discuss the hotel’s planning application. The council officer handling the case has recommended approval, stating that the benefits of the project outweigh any potential harm.

As the debate continues, the fate of the Headland Hotel’s solar panel installation rests in the hands of the council. It will weigh the hotel’s commitment to sustainable practices against the concerns of the local community and heritage conservationists.