The city wind farm row has blown up into major storm with villagers vowing to take Milton Keynes Council to court.
Councillors on Tuesday night voted 25-22 against a move to overturn a planning committee decision approving plans for seven huge wind turbines at Emberton.
The defeated Tory motion said the decision exposed the council to legal challenge because information put before the committee was “inaccurate, incomplete and potentially biased”.
Outraged residents who packed the public gallery at the Civic Offices for the second time in three weeks said they would demand a judicial review of the council’s action.
“We will win,” a wind farm opponent claimed to cheers.
Residents protested they had been ignored by council planners, that questions raised on the issue had gone unanswered, official reports were late and the council had relied on expert advice from a non-neutral source.
But Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors said planners and the committee had acted properly and the council should not be influenced by fear of legal action.
Cllr Debbie Brock said the committee should sit again on the application with “full and correct information”.
She dreaded the prospect of “a judge picking over the workings of this council and finding it lacking”.
Tory group leader Andrew Geary criticised the process leading up to the planning committee meeting as “at best hectic and at worst a fiasco”.
The council had hired consultants who on their website “prided themselves with being able to assist the development of wind farms,” Cllr Geary added.
Anti-wind farm campaigner Peter Geary said if the council did not overturn the planning committee decision, it would leave residents with no choice but to take legal proceedings.
“All the advice we have received so far suggests that we will win,” he said.
James Townsend, of the wind farm developer Your Energy, said the planning committee dealt with its application effectively.
Council leader Cllr Isobel McCall said it would be a dangerous precedent for councillors who were not members of the planning committee to unpick the decision when they did not have all the facts. “I am not prepared to give in to threats about judicial review,” she said.
Planning committee member Cllr Chris Williams said reports it considered were “fair and proper” and he had the information he needed to make a decision.
Labour leader Kevin Wilson called the Tory motion an “abuse of the planning system”.
Cllr Brian White defended the committee decision and warned against planning issues being decided on the basis of “emotion or threats”.
10 January 2008
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