Green light for wind farms
Posted: 15th January 2013
Plans for two new wind farms in the King's Lynn area have won the backing of the High Court - even after the government and local planning authority had conceded that the decision to give the go-ahead for them should be quashed. The court rejected a challenge by residents who say that wind turbines will spoil views from Bloodgate Hill Fort, a landmark dating back to the iron age.
The Department for Communities and Local Government and the relevant local planning authority had elected not to defend the decision; however lawyers representing the energy companies behind the plans - E.On Climate Change Renewables Limited and RES UK and Ireland Limited - successfully fought for the right to carry through the developments.
Both schemes were refused planning permission by King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council in 2011. However, a government planning inspector subsequently allowed appeals by the developers and granted permission for the wind farms, despite opposition from residents and conservation bodies, including English Heritage.
Two action groups - Against Turbines at Chiplow (ATAC) and Creakes Action for Protecting the Environment (CAPE) – asked the High Court to quash the inspector’s decision and direct reconsideration by the Secretary of State. They argued that the turbines will be visible from Bloodgate Hill Fort and that the inspector had failed to take into account a key expert's oral testimony that the harm would be greater than he had at first indicated in his written evidence.
Dismissing the challenge, however, Mrs Justice Lang said: ‘Whilst I accept that an expert might well revise his assessment at an inquiry, particularly after hearing other experts give evidence, the revision for which the claimants contend would be a very significant change from his written evidence. The evidence before me is insufficient for me to conclude that he made such a significant change to his evidence.’
Also rejecting arguments that the inspector failed to give adequate reasons for his decision, the judge added: ‘On a straightforward reading of the decision letter, there is no genuine doubt as to what the inspector decided and why.’