The company behind plans to build a wind farm north of Alnwick has launched a legal challenge that could cost taxpayers £75,000.
npower renewables has lodged a formal claim in the High Court seeking an order that a planning policy or Alnwick Core Strategy Development Plan Document be quashed and the council pay its legal costs in the proceedings.
A public inquiry into the proposals for 18 turbines at Middlemoor, near North Charlton, finished last month.
Coun John Taylor, who spoke out against the plans at the inquiry, branded it a David versus Goliath battle.
Policy S21 of the Core Strategy sets out the council’s planning policy in relation to renewable energy development and is a material consideration to be taken into account by The Secretary of State when determining the application.
npower believes the policy is unworkable and out of line with regional and national policies.
The strategy was found to be sound after an Examination in Public in July.
In a letter to members, Anthony Farrell, head of legal and democratic services at the council, said: “The implications of this High Court challenge are potentially very serious for the council with this policy, and possibly, the whole core strategy itself being under threat of being quashed.
“The cost implications are also significant in that it has been estimated that if the council lose the High Court case it could be liable for payment of legal costs in excess of £75,000.”
Coun Taylor said: “It is interesting that they are challenging this document which has already been passed by a government inspector.
“These guys have got huge budgets to play with and are responsible for no one but their shareholders.
“The council is responsible to the taxpayers.”
npower renewables’ regional development manager Clare Wilson said: “npower renewables has made this challenge because the policy as it stands is unworkable and would frustrate wind farm development across the entire Alnwick district.
“This is out of line with national and regional policy and not a sustainable position given the urgent need to tackle climate change.”
It could be some months before we receive an allocated time slot for the High Court hearing in London.
By Jaclyn Curry
27 December 2007
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