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Wind farm protesters have predicted a ruling against a huge application on a famous Elizabethan landscape will set future precedent over what can and cannot be built in the Westcountry.
Campaigners said the decision to block proposals for four 430ft (145m) turbines on farmland owned by the Queen’s cousin would have a significant impact on numerous applications in the South West, including the controversial Atlantic Array development in the Bristol Channel.
Opponents of wind farms in Devon and Cornwall said they were delighted after a judge ruled a planning inspector made a “flawed” bid to initially approve the plans by West Coast Energy at Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire.
Steve Crowther, spokesman for campaign group SlayTheArray.com, said: “We are absolutely delighted by the verdict. It could be a sign of things to come with applications including the Atlantic Array.” He added: “Even in the Government’s own legislation, it almost specifically says the Bristol Channel is not a suitable place to build due to the visibility from heritage assets in Devon and Cornwall.”
Bob Barfoot, North Devon chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the decision was “very useful but not ground-breaking”.
He said: “Developers will need to look carefully at judgments like these before trying to plonk wind turbines and wind farms within the setting of heritage assets.”
Mrs Justice Lang quashed the application after deciding the inspector had failed to properly interpret and apply the relevant planning policies on its effect on the setting of heritage sites.
Conservationists had raised concerns about the impact of the wind farm on panoramic views in the area including the setting of Lyveden New Bield – an unfinished 17th-century summer house which has one of the country’s finest surviving examples of an Elizabethan garden. They hailed the victory as setting down an “important marker in the defence of the historic environment”.
National Trust representative Mark Bradshaw said: “We are delighted with the outcome. We hope this brings to an end a five-year battle to preserve and protect the important setting of some of our most significant heritage assets.”
Simon Thurley, English Heritage chief executive added: “The effect of the proposed turbines on one of the most important, beautiful and unspoilt Elizabethan landscapes in England would be appalling.”
But Renewable UK’s deputy chief executive, Maf (correct) Smith, said: “It would be wrong to suggest that any kind of precedent has been set on this occasion. Anyone who’s serious about protecting the British countryside from a damaging over-reliance on fossil fuels will want to support wind energy as an example of practical action on climate change.”
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