In late July 2014, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government refused planning permission for four on-shore wind farms.
When considering these appeals, the Secretary of State had regard to the Court of Appeal’s judgement in the recent case of Barnwell Manor Energy Ltd v East Northamptonshire DC & Others  EWCA Civ 137, which held that s66(1) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 requires a decision-maker to give “considerable importance and weight” to the desirability of preserving the setting of heritage assets when balancing the proposal against other material considerations.
Hill Farm, Milton Keynes
The first case relates to an appeal against non-determination of an application for five wind turbines on land at Hill Farm, Haversham, Milton Keynes. The planning inspector recommended that permission should be granted subject to conditions, but the Secretary of State disagreed with his recommendation.
The Secretary of State considered there would be substantial harm to visual amenity and harm in relation to the setting of heritage assets, though that harm would be less than substantial. He also considered that the impact of the proposals on a nearby property was sufficient to make it an unattractive place in which to live. On balance, he decided that planning permission should be refused.
Saxby Wolds, North Lincolnshire
The second case relates to land at Saxby Wolds, near Barton-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire and an appeal against refusal of permission for 10 wind turbines. The planning inspector recommended that the appeal be dismissed and planning permission refused. He considered that the proposal would result in substantial harm to the quality and character of this stretch of the Wolds and would diminish the contribution that the Wolds makes to the wider landscape. In addition the proposal would have a harmful visual impact on the nearby Ancholme valley and would be prominent in other views.
The Secretary of State agreed with the inspector’s conclusions, and refused permission.
Pilrow Farm, Somerset
A further case relates to the refusal of planning permission for four wind turbines at a site at Pilrow Farm, near Axbridge, Somerset.
The Secretary of State agreed with the planning inspector’s recommendation that planning permission be refused. Overall, he considered that the substantial harm to the landscape and visual amenity coupled with substantial harm to the setting of a scheduled ancient monument, harm to other heritage assets, and the significant adverse impact on residential amenity, clearly outweighed the benefits of the proposal.
The final case relates to a refusal of planning permission for five wind turbines on Green Belt land to the north of Fenrother, Northumberland. The planning inspector concluded that the proposal is inappropriate development in terms of Green Belt policy and would harm the openness of the area. He also considered the proposal would harm the visual amenity of residents of nearby properties, and harm residents’ living conditions, especially those in Fenrother.
Overall, the benefits of the proposal did not clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and to residents’ visual amenity/living conditions. Thus very special circumstances to justify the inappropriate development did not exist.
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