May 9, 2014

Wind turbine approval quashed by appeal court

By Rebecca Smith-Dawkins | Nottingham Post | May 09, 2014 |

The Court of Appeal has quashed the planning permission granted by Gedling Borough Council for a 66-metre wind turbine on Green Belt land in Woodborough.

The decision comes after a lengthy legal battle by Woodborough resident Chris Holder and his wife, Julia, who live next to Woodborough Park Farm, where the turbine was put up.

Despite 1,125 letters of objections , the application – submitted by farmer John Charles-Jones – was approved by ten votes to seven by the council’s planning committee in November 2011.

Mr Holder, a member of the Woodborough and Calverton Against Turbines (WACAT) group, later appealed to overturn the decision, fearing that it would set a precedent for further turbines in the area. The application was heard at the High Court in June 2013 but was rejected.

Yesterday, Mr and Mrs Holder were relieved when the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court ruling and quashed the borough council’s grant of planning permission for the turbine, which Mr Charles- Jones brought into operation in February.

Mrs Holder, a retired solicitor, said: “I am very relieved but we are only halfway there in a way because the turbine is still running.

“My ideal outcome would be that the turbine is taken down. It is an inappropriate development in the green belt.”

Lord Justice Maurice Kay, sitting with Lord Justice Patten and Sir Stanley Burnton, found that the grant of planning permission was “legally flawed”, and made on the basis of advice from a planning officer that was “simply wrong”.

He said: “Whilst, of course, no two planning applications are exactly the same, a grant of planning permission in the present case would undoubtedly be advanced as a precedent in relation to a similar application in the same area and, unless other matters such as greater visual impact rendered it distinguishable, it would have real precedent value.”

Mr Holder’s solicitor, Susan Ring, of Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law, said: “This is a very important case and will determine how future applications for renewable energy projects are dealt with throughout the country on green-belt land.

“The judgment deals with important issues such as precedent effect, alternatives, energy production and efficiency.

“It also serves as a warning to developers who erect turbines before judicial review proceedings have been resolved that they do so at their own risk and will have to bear the costs of dismantling the turbine if the planning permission is quashed and not re-granted.”

Councillor Darrell Pulk, portfolio holder for leisure and development on the borough council, said: “We’re disappointed with the decision made by the Court of Appeal, especially considering that previously the High Court found in favour of the council.

“We have decided we cannot risk further costs to the public purse by appealing the decision.”

Mr Charles-Jones said he would be waiting for an announcement from the council over what happened to the turbine.

He added: “We are shocked by this announcement. We knew there was a decision forthcoming but to have this news was very surprising.”

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