High Court judge blocks moves to build huge wind turbine after planning inspector claimed ‘giant rotor blades could attract TOURISTS to the unspoilt countryside’
A High Court judge has blocked a plan to build a huge wind turbine amid an unspoilt historic landscape, in a ruling that will give hope to campaigners nationwide.
The 284ft turbine, which would have been visible from more than three miles, was due to stand in an area of Norfolk countryside dotted with historic churches, a Grade I-listed Jacobean mansion, and a moated 15th century castle.
Although the scheme had been rejected by North Norfolk district council, a planning inspector overturned the decision and gave it the go-ahead – even making the extraordinary suggestion that the giant rotor blades could actually draw tourists to the area.
But High Court judge Robin Purchas yesterday granted a court order to the council quashing the scheme’s approval, saying the inspector failed to give adequate weight to the impact on the landscape and historic buildings.
Landowner David Mack had applied for permission to erect the turbine on his farm at Cromer Ridge, one of the highest points in Norfolk. Mr Mack, who operates Pond Farm under the name Genatec, argued it would generate energy for 665 homes and be ‘a good asset to the community’.
Listed buildings in the magnificent surrounding countryside include the Grade I-listed Barningham Hall, which is of Jacobean origin, the 15th century Baconsthorpe Castle, also Grade I, and four churches listed at Grade II*.
The council, which originally unanimously refused planning permission in August 2012, was outraged when planning inspector Alan Novitzky ruled last April that the huge turbine could be built.
Remarkably, he declared in his decision that the impact of the giant rotor blades in the midst of such beauty ‘would be less than substantial’. And in response to objections that it would deter tourists, he said: ‘For some, a wind turbine provokes interest rather than distaste.’
The local authority immediately launched a High Court appeal and argued that approving the scheme ‘flies in the face of the will of the local community’. The application had generated 1,800 letters and emails, 1,450 of which had been against the turbine plan.
Council members argued that allowing the turbine could open the door to similar future applications, damaging the district’s vital tourism industry.
Yesterday Judge Purchas ruled that the planning inspector did not comply with the planning regulations requiring him to have special regard to the ‘desirability of preserving the settings of listed buildings’. But he added that, had the inspector complied with theses, he could still have come to the same overall decision.
Last night North Norfolk district council leader Tom FitzPatrick welcomed the ruling, saying: ‘While a firm supporter of the economic benefits of off-shore wind energy, the council firmly believes on-shore wind turbines detract from the unique landscape of this beautiful area.’
Member of the No To That Turbine protest group councillor David Ramsbotham said: ‘The decision by the last inspector was disgusting because it did not take into account the views of local people.
‘A turbine would ruin the view for miles around. The tourism industry is vital for north Norfolk as it employs 8,500 people and brings in £400million a year.’
Mr Mack, who is building a 20-acre solar farm next to the proposed turbine site, said: ‘We will carry on fighting to get the turbine. The benefits would far outweigh any impacts.’
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