Conservationists who have warned that plans for a colossal wind farm will result in substantial damage to Britain’s countryside will learn today whether they have won an important High Court battle.
English Heritage and the National Trust have said the landmark case has national implications.
The “blight” of giant windfarms spreading across Britain is the “most widespread and persistent threat” to our countryside, the National Trust warned.
The charities are supporting East Northamptonshire District Council’s legal bid to block proposals submitted by West Coast Energy for four 300ft turbines on farmland at Barnwell Manor, Sudborough.
There is concern over the wind farm’s impact on local panoramic views, and in particular the setting of Lyveden New Bield, a 17th-century lodge which has one of the finest surviving examples of an Elizabethan garden in the country.
The conservationists say if they lose the case the protection of other important historic sites around the country could be undermined.
National Trust Chairman Sir Simon Jenkins said: said: “There’s clearly a major battle taking place almost everywhere on wind farms. Wind turbines are very intrusive forms of renewable energy.
“National Trust policy is perfectly clear. We’re not against renewable energy or wind turbines in the right place, we do oppose wind turbines that blight the landscape.”
The charity argues the area in Northamptonshire they are seeking to protect has “a great many top-dollar heritage assets” and defeat will “turn Government policy on conservation on its head”.
The district council rejected the wind farm plans, then involving five wind turbine generators, in 2010 after strong local opposition and fears the heritage of the area would be put at risk through their interference with panoramic views.
But Barnwell Manor Wind Energy Ltd appealed and in March last year public inquiry inspector Paul Griffiths allowed the construction of four turbines.
The harm was dismissed as “less than substantial” when outweighed by the “significant benefits” the wind farm would bring in terms of renewable energy, the inspector said.
Mark Bradshaw, of the National Trust, said: “This case is about protecting special places of the highest designation from inappropriate development. It doesn’t come much higher than this.
“It concerns balancing the preservation of our heritage – historical, architectural, cultural and religious – against the need for renewables.”
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