Milton Keynes Council has lost its High Court battle with RWE NPower over the minimum distance wind turbines can be built from homes in the borough.
Leader Andrew Geary was in court on Monday to hear the judge’s decision to over-turn the council’s supplementary planning document (SPD) to increase the distance to 1,000 metres.
The Judicial Review was brought by RWE NPower against the council’s adoption of minimum distances between people’s homes and wind turbines in July 2012. The case was heard in late February.
Of the four grounds contested by the claimant, which saw them try and find the document unlawful, Milton Keynes Council won three.
The SPD was deemed by Judge John Howell QC as a lawful approach, and that approach was not in conflict with national policy. The judgement also deemed that it was lawful to provide separation distances in the document. The distances between the turbines and footpaths and bridleways was judged to be lawful.
However, as the council already has separation distances in the Local Plan from residential properties of at least 350 metres the judge found that the SPD was contradictory on this point and therefore felt he had to quash the document.
With the judge finding favour with the council on the majority of the points it is expected the authority will be reviewing its policy further.
Mr Geary, whose Hanslope Park ward will be affected by the Little Linford wind farm proposal, said: “It is rather ironic that the council already had separation distances in place within policy and the SPD was quashed as a result of this point alone, had we had no policy we would have won.
“Any authority that doesn’t have a separation distance in policy should sit up and take notice of today’s judgement.
“I have no doubt the action the council has taken is in the best interest of the residents of Milton Keynes and we will be looking at how we move forward. A Development Planning Document is already being drafted to change what is written in the Local Plan.
“There are many issues in my ward as you’d expect, but this is the biggest concern the residents here have had in the last two years and the people who are fighting it are so passionate.
“This is by no means the end of the road.”
Mr Geary also confirmed that the council will have to cover 40 per cent of RWE NPower’s court costs, but those are yet to be calculated.
Patrick Upton, a resident of Little Linford who has been fighting against the plans to build turbines near his home, said: “We are hopeful that we can still fight the proposal. Ultimately, while the SPD refusal is a set back, it doesn’t mean the proposal is going to be given the go-ahead, because they are all dealt with on an individual basis by an investigator.”
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