A protestor is making a one-man stand against the combined might of big business and the Government in a bid to save Scout and Knowl Moors from a 26-turbine windfarm.
Businessman and solicitor Edward Smethurst is single-handedly mounting a judicial review to halt plans for the £50M development, which was given the final green light by Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight in May.
Backed with the full support of the Friends of Scout and Knowl Moor – the pressure group that has led the campaign against the windfarm plans since they were unveiled three years ago – Mr Smethurst is launching a legal challenge both against the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the developers Peel Holdings Ltd.
He is fighting for his property rights over the 7.41km of moorland between Rochdale, where he lives in Norden, and Edenfield.
In May, Mr Knight approved Peel’s application to erect the turbines on the common land, wherein Peel would provide alternative land elsewhere. Common land is historically protected for people to enjoy open space.
But Mr Smethurst, who owns four farms in the area, claims this infringes local farmers’ property rights.
In a statement, he said: ‘I am the largest holder of the registered common property and hold rights over all areas of the moor affected.
‘In order to erect a windfarm, the developers and Defra need to compulsorily remove and transfer property rights of a number of local farmers and smallholders.’
Mr Smethurst, who is chairman of the Law Society Commerce and Industry Group in the North West, has been advised by a specialist barrister that Defra has no statutory power to make the exchanges.
He said: ‘This is an example of large developers and Government departments trampling on the private rights of individuals.
‘These property rights have existed for centuries and it seems fundamentally wrong from both a legal and moral perspective that they can just be taken away.
‘The legitimate rights of the individuals of Rochdale and Rossendale need to be protected and upheld.’
He added: ‘I also feel I have a duty to help protect this environment for future generations from this development which will fundamentally ruin our landscape forever.’
Rossendale MP Janet Anderson said: ‘I’m delighted he has taken this action, and he is to be commended for doing so; if the windfarm goes ahead, it will desecrate one of the most beautiful parts of my constituency. Moreover, there is no evidence that the energy it might generate justifies the damage.’
By Deborah Lewis
7 July 2006
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding