A High Court judge has today, Tuesday, blocked campaigners’ efforts to stop two controversial wind farms from being built.
A legal challenge was launched to the decision of a government planning inspector to allow the Chiplow wind farm at Bagthorpe and the Jack’s Lane wind farm at Stanhoe to proceed.
But, in a ruling announced this morning, the judge, Mrs Justice Lang, said: “The evidence is insufficient to enable me to accept the claimants’ submission.”
As previously reported, both proposals were refused planning consent by the West Norfolk Council in 2011.
That decision was overturned on appeal by a government planning inspector last May.
But two campaign groups, Against Turbines At Chiplow (ATAC) and Creakes Action for Protecting the Environment (CAPE), which claim to represent a large number of local residents formed to oppose the wind farms, took the case to court, seeking a ruling which would have forced the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to have the two applications reconsidered.
They argued that the turbines will be visible from Bloodgate Hill Fort, a protected ancient monument of national importance and claimed the inspector had failed to take into account a key expert’s oral testimony that the harm would be greater than he first indicated in his written evidence.
They claim an expert put forward by E.On, who want to build the Chiplow farm, had initially stated that the project would only have a minor impact on the fort before describing it as “moderate” and “noticeable” in his oral evidence.
They added that the expert also stated that his assessment of the harm that would be caused by the Jack’s Lane scheme – which he had classed as “moderate” – would also have to be revised upwards.
And they argued that the inspector failed to record the oral evidence properly, reaching his ruling based on the written submissions.
But the judge said an expert saying the turbines would be noticeable did not mean he saw them as a noticeable change to the landscape and added that the distinction had been made clear in written evidence.
She added: “Whilst I accept that an expert might well revise his assessment at an inquiry, particularly after hearing other experts give evidence, the revision for which the claimants contend would be a very significant change from his written evidence.
“The evidence before me is insufficient for me to conclude that he made such a significant change to his evidence.”
Rejecting the additional claim that the inspector failed to give adequate reasons for his decision, she said: “In my judgment, on a straightforward reading of the decision letter, there is no genuine doubt as to what the inspector decided and why, and therefore the reasons challenge must fail.”
Lawyers acting on behalf of the two developers, E.On Climate Change Renewables and RES UK and Ireland Ltd, contested the case.
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