South Hams Council has been forced by the threat of a judicial review to withdraw its planning consent for the wind turbine that has been erected on high ground close to Chivelstone Cross, near Kingsbridge.
Andrew Wakeham, of Chivelstone Barton Farm, had applied for the 15Kw, 20 meter high wind turbine last October.
Despite a full meeting of the council planning committee earlier this year, on the February 15, and strong local opposition including that of Ed Brown the council’s planning officer dealing with the matter, the vote went in favour of the application.
Concerned that the planning application process may not have been correctly followed, local resident John Casson engaged the services of leading environment law experts Richard Buxton Associates.
They took advice from one the UK’s leading barristers and consequently wrote to South Hams Council bringing to their attention that an environmental impact report should have been called for and considered.
John Casson said: ‘I am very concerned that the planning application process has not been followed correctly and that is totally unacceptable’.
He went on to say, ‘Chivelstone and the surrounding area is a public amenity and determined as one of outstanding natural beauty.
‘The area depends heavily on a strong tourist industry which benefits the whole community, including farmers who have diversified.
‘This wind turbine can be seen for miles around and undoubtedly has an adverse impact on the environment.’
The first response from the council was to deny that they had failed in the planning process but, after further communication from John Casson’s lawyers and a threat of a Judicial Review, the council sought advice and then conceded that they should have requested an environmental impact report.
A consent order has now been agreed, the legal action withdrawn, South Hams Council forced to withdraw the planning application agreeing to pay John Casson’s legal costs of £10,000.
John Casson added: ‘At a time when councils need to save money, a large amount has already been wasted in legal costs, both mine – largely paid for by the council – and theirs, ultimately a cost the tax payer will have to bear as a result of South Hams Council’s failings.’
A spokesman for South Hams Council, said: ‘Permission for the wind turbine has been quashed after the council agreed to a consent order.
‘The council has acted to minimise legal costs and we accept that, on this occasion, we did not apply the correct tests in the initial part of the planning process.
‘The court did not rule on the planning merits of the development.
‘We apologise for the error.
‘The planning application for the wind turbine is due to go back to the development management committee for reconsideration.’
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