Cornwall councillors have rejected plans for a solar farm which could have provided renewable energy for a sewage treatment plant and 1,260 homes.

A planning application had been submitted to the council for the solar farm and battery storage on land at Tregorrick Farm on the outskirts of St Austell.

Planning officers had recommended that the council’s central sub-area planning committee should delegate permission for officers to grant approval for the plans subject to a satisfactory report about the archaeological value of the site.

However councillors decided to refuse permission saying that they were concerned about the impact the development would have on the landscape of the area as the site lies just 200metres from an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The refusal comes despite the council having declared a climate emergency and setting a target to increase renewable energy in Cornwall.

Planning officers had said that the application was “finely balanced” but had recommended approval because they believed the benefits of providing renewable energy outweighed the harm to the land.

Councillors heard that the solar farm would generate 6 megawatts of electricity and under the plans 1.4mw would go directly to the nearby sewage plant with the remainder able to provide power for up to 1,260 homes.

In addition a battery storage plant was planned for the site which would mean that any energy which was not supplied to the national grid could be stored and used later.

However councillors also heard that the site was classed as being “best and most versatile” land and was currently used for agriculture.

Stephen Street from Pentewan Valley Parish Council told the committee that the parish council “get climate change” but objected strongly to the solar farm plans.

He said: “Pentewan Valley and the AONB are a great natural resource. The area relies heavily on tourism. The development will significantly damage the landscape of the area impacting visitors and residents.”

He said that the solar farm would be “clearly visible from extensive areas of the valley” and said that the plans went against Cornwall Council’s own policy of encouraging solar farms to be placed on level ground.

Mr Street also claimed that solar farms are “extremely inefficient” and said that while solar power has a role to play in providing renewable energy it was not suitable for this location.

Local Cornwall councillor Michael Bunney also objected to the plans and said that the site is of agricultural and archaeological importance.

He said: “I support renewable energy but the key point is that this is the wrong site for such a development and there are many more sites within a mile or two miles away of industrial or post industrial land that are more fitting for renewable energy developments.

“It is very high grade agricultural land and crucial to the environment and with bronze age and medieval period archaeology.

“To grant this application will cause significant to medium harm to the landscape of St Austell that desperately needs protecting and enhancing.”

The committee was told that the Cornwall AONB had raised no objection to the plans saying that it would not have significant impact on the protected area.

However councillors said they were unhappy with the plans and John Thomas proposed refusal which was seconded by Kate Ewert. The committee agreed unanimously to refuse planning permission due to the harm to the AONB, landscape and character of the area.