Campaigner’s delight as wind farm plan is blocked.
The bid to develop the Maldon district’s first wind farm is to be blocked after a High Court challenge.
Campaigners who launched the legal action say they are delighted with the victory – but warned this could still not be the end of the story.
Last year, following a public inquiry, a planning inspector gave the go-ahead for Npower Renewables’ proposal to build ten turbines at Hockley Farm, Bradwell.
The proposals had previously been thrown out by Maldon District Council and were fiercely opposed by protest group Battle (Bradwell and Tillinham Tackling Lost Environment).
After the appeal was allowed, Battle’s members lodged their High Court challenge and began a fundraising drive to cover the costs of what was expected to be a lengthy legal process.
But now, less than three months on, the inspector’s decision has itself been quashed.
A “consent order” issued by the High Court says two conditions imposed by planning inspector Philip Major are “unenforceable”.
Following the order, the legal team for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government decided not to challenge Battle’s appeal win.
The consent order means the matter will not be sent back to the Secretary of Stat for “redetermination”.
Neil Yates, chairman of Battle, said: “We are absolutely delighted – it is quite a significant victory.
“We are all a bit shocked it has happened so quickly, but everyone is very please.
“In our hearts, though, we don’t believe this is the end – but we are hopeful it might be.
“If it isn’t, we will keep on battling.”
The Secretary of State is expected to have another look at the planning inspector’s decision, which could even result in another public inquiry being called.
Mr Yates said: “It really is a matter of waiting to see what the Secretary of State decides.”
Alan Cheshire, Maldon District Council leader, said: “We acknowledge the Secretary of State has accepted this decision and that this matter will be referred back to her for redetermination.
“The council now awaits with interest to see how the Secretary of State will progress with this matter.”
The High Court order still needs to be signed by all parties before being formalised.
Cath Stevenson, regional development manager for Npower Renewables, said: “Planning permission still stands for the wind farm at Bradwell. While Npower Renewables is aware a challenge has been made, we remain convinced the wind farm proposal is entirely in line with Government renewables policy and that it remains wholly acceptable in planning and environmental terms.”
A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government declined to comment.
By Danyelle Garside
The Burnham Standard
30 January 2008
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