February 18, 2013

Landmark High Court bid to protect history from wind farms

By Tom Whitehead | The Telegraph | 18 February 2013 | www.telegraph.co.uk

Britain’s historic sites will be at risk from the relentless march of wind farms if campaigners lose a landmark legal battle in the High Court this week.

In an unprecedented move, English Heritage and the National Trust have joined forces to fight plans for turbines on land owned by the Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s cousin.

They want a senior judge to rule that planners must consider the impact of wind farms on any surrounding heritage such as protected buildings and land.

The groups fear if they lose the case it will pave the way for councils or planning inspectors to ignore Britain’s history when considering wind farm applications.

West Coast Energy was given the go ahead to erect four turbines on land at Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire after a successful appeal to the planning inspector last year.

But campaigners and East Northamptonshire Council, which turned down the original application, fear the development will impact on the surrounding countryside which includes the historic Lyveden New Bield Elizabethan estate and other listed buildings and monuments.

In his decision, the planning inspector, Paul Griffiths, accepted the turbines would be an imposing feature but said “reasonable observers” would not be “confused” by the juxtaposition of historic buildings and a modern wind farm.

For the first time, English Heritage and the National Trust have teamed up to challenge the ruling along with the local council in the High Court.

The Government is not defending the challenge but West Coast Energy. The Duke of Gloucester is not a party to the case.

It will be heard by a senior judge over two days starting on Wednesday.

The matter was due to be heard last December but was postponed after the judge, Mr Justice Underhill withdrew himself from the case because he was a member of English Heritage and the National Trust.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said, “We were extremely disappointed by the Inspector’s decision to allow the wind farm. Our challenge to his decision is not simply about the balance of professional judgment between heritage and renewable energy. The Inspector did not adequately take into account the contribution that Lyveden New Bield’s historic and rural surroundings make to its immense significance.

“In our view, therefore, he failed to have ‘special regard’ for the desirability of preserving the special interest of the listed building and its setting which the law requires of him as decision-maker in this case.

“This decision is highly unusual and must not be allowed to become the benchmark for future wind-energy developments.”

Peter Stephens, chairman of the Stop Barnwell Manor Wind Farm campaign, said: “This is about the principle.

“No where will be sacrosanct if this is allowed to go through.”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/02/18/landmark-high-court-bid-to-protect-history-from-wind-farms/