The future of UK wind farms could be under threat after a United Nations tribunal said that the Government acted illegally by denying the public decision-making powers over their approval.
The ruling by the UN committee, which also criticised the UK’s failure to give people the “necessary information” about the benefits or negative impacts of turbines, could call into question the legal validity of future wind farms unless Government policy is changed.
The United Nations Economic Commission Europe has declared that the UK flouted Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which states that members must be allowed to fully participate in environmental issues, it has been reported.
It comes amid a growing Coalition row over wind farms.
Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, has commissioned a report on the impact turbines have on the countryside and house prices.
However, the Telegraph understands that officials in the energy department, run by Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, have attempted to block the study.
Legal experts told The Independent newspaper that the UN wind farms decision is a “game-changer” for the future of turbines in the UK.
David Hart, QC, an environmental lawyer, said: “This ruling means that consents and permissions for further wind-farm developments in Scotland and the UK are liable to challenge on the grounds that the necessary policy preliminaries have not been complied with, and that, in effect, the public has been denied the chance to consider and contribute to the NREAP (National Renewable Energy Action Plan).”
The ruling came after Christine Metcalfe, a councillor from Argyll, lodged a complaint to the UN over a local wind farm development.
“The Government needs to do more than just give ordinary people the right to comment on planning applications; they deserve to be given all the facts,” she said.
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “We are aware of this decision and we are considering our response. Wind is an important part of our energy mix providing clean home-grown power to millions of homes. Developers of both offshore and onshore wind farms do consult with communities and provide generous benefits packages.”