A council fighting controversial plans for a wind farm off Redcar today criticised as “unlawful” the failure of the Government to hold a public inquiry.
Redcar and Cleveland Council lawyers fighting the case at the High Court in London told a top judge that Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, John Hutton, was wrong not to direct a full inquiry.
Mr Hutton gave his consent for the construction of the farm by energy giants, EDF Energy, last September, paving the way for 30 massive turbines to be built around a mile off the coast at Redcar.
But the council objects to the farm’s construction, following thousands of objections from residents opposed to the plans.
A legal challenge was launched yesterday against the Minister’s decision before Mr Justice Sullivan in a High Court hearing expected to last two days.
Geoffrey Stephenson, for the council, said Mr Hutton had acted “unlawfully” in failing to carry out his statutory duty to consider whether a public inquiry into the plans, which were several years old by the time they were given consent, was appropriate.
The duty for the Secretary of State is to consider for himself “whether a public inquiry is appropriate and it matters not that it has not been requested,” he told the judge.
He added that EDF’s application for consent was “invalid” as it was only for part of a “generating station”, not including the vital on-shore sub-station, transformers and cabling.
The law permits only applications for whole stations, meaning the Minister’s grant of consent was invalid, he argued.
An officer from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform had visited the site and made comments to colleagues suggesting it was too close to shore, but these were never put before the Minister, he added.
The wind farm plans involve 30 turbines, up to 132 metres above the high-water mark, standing in rows of ten, approximately 300 metres apart.
Objectors say the turbines would be too close to the shoreline and could overwhelm the town.
The judge is expected to reserve his judgment on the case until a later date.
Jul 1 2008
by Elaine Blackburne, Evening Gazette
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