Ed Miliband’s wife loses Court of Appeal battle to build a wind farm on Duke of Gloucester’s ‘unspoilt’ Elizabethan estate
Labour leader Ed Miliband’s wife has lost a Court of Appeal battle to allow an energy company to build a wind farm overlooking an Elizabethan ruin on the Duke of Gloucester’s estate.
Plans for four giant wind turbines to be built within half a mile of the Grade One listed Lyveden New Bield lodge on his Barnwell Manor estate in Northamptonshire were rejected as the site was deemed to be of ‘international importance’.
The Duke, 69, a cousin of the Queen and 23rd in line to the throne, had fought a long campaign against English Heritage, the National Trust, and East Northamptonshire Council, all of which voiced strong objections to the plans.
Developers represented in court by Justine Thornton, the wife of Labour leader Ed Miliband, had hoped to build a huge wind farm on the site, which would have been easily visible from the early 17th century lodge.
The Duke, a former deputy chairman of English Heritage himself, had been strongly criticised for agreeing to plans put forward by West Coast Energy.
There were concerns that, had the wind farm been allowed, it could have set a precedent that put other country houses and historic estates at risk of similar developments.
Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, told Oliver Moody at the Times: ‘We are very pleased that the Court of Appeal has underlined the vital principle of preserving important historic places like Lyveden New Bield, one of the most beautiful and unspoilt Elizabethan landscapes in England.’
‘We have continued to argue that the original decision by East Northamptonshire Council to refuse the application was absolutely right. The subsequent reasoning of the planning inspector did not pay enough attention to the significance of this exotic jewel in the landscape,’ he added.
Mr Thurley went on to say: ‘To allow turbines here would have had an appalling impact on a very special place.’
The Lyveden New Bield lodge was commissioned shortly before the death of Elizabeth I in 1603 by Sir Thomas Tresham – a prominent Roman Catholic whose son Francis was later involved in the Gunpowder Plot. The building was never finished.
West Coast Energy’s plans to develop the site, which is on the edge of Catshead Woods, were originally rejected by East Northamptonshire Council in 2010.
A prolonged legal battle ensued, with the Planning Inspectorate ruling in favour of the developers. That decision was rejected in the High Court last year.
Now the Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court decision, although the Planning Inspectorate is entitled to launch another appeal.
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