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North Norfolk District Council to challenge Bodham wind turbine go-ahead in high court

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) is to mount a high court challenge against a decision to give the planning go-ahead for a wind turbine in Bodham.

The council’s cabinet agreed to the move, which could cost £20,000, this morning believing the planning inspector’s decision flies in the face of the will of the local community.

They also fear it could have wider implications for north Norfolk’s economy by opening the gates to more onshore wind turbine applications, damaging the district’s vital tourism industry.

The council believes the 86.5m turbine, at Pond Farm, would be seen from over five kilometres away creating an intrusion in an unspoilt landscape near the north Norfolk coast.

Last month a planning inspector overturned a decision by NNDC’s development committee unanimously refusing the turbine application by David Mack, part of the family-run firm Genetec.

Now NNDC’s legal department has taken advice from a barrister on whether there were grounds for challenging the inspector’s decision and has been told there are two.

The subject was raised as a matter of urgent business this morning because the deadline for any challenge is May 20.

Roger Howe, NNDC’s planning legal manager, said the application had generated 1,800 letters, emails and other representations from people, 1,450 of which had been against the turbine plan.

But he said the level of opposition was not an acceptable reason for mounting a challenge.

“We have to show that the inspector erred on a point of law – that he made a legal mistake,” said Mr Howe.

The barrister had advised that the inspector failed to give priority to the statutory development plan under terms of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act of 2004.

And that he failed to have special regard to the desirability of preserving listed buildings under provisions of the Planning (and Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

NNDC’s cabinet member for planning, Benjie Cabbell Manners said: “There has been a lot of dismay and amazement that the inspector allowed this appeal. The council is under a legal obligation to protect and enhance Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty throughout north Norfolk.

“I strongly feel that our locally-based development committee is best placed to take into account the facts relating to this area when considering planning decisions of this nature as they have wide implications for the residents of our often quite isolated local rural communities.

“We regard tourism as a vital component of the economy of north Norfolk and do not wish to see any development which would adversely detract from this offering.”