A farming family’s bid to become self sufficient by erecting its own wind turbine has been thwarted a third time following a legal battle.
John and George Barber, who farm near Berwick, have three times been given planning permission for a generator which would provide their electricity – only for the approval to be quashed at the high court following judicial review.
The reviews have all been sought by another farmer in the area who has identified faults with Northumberland County Council’s handling of the planning applications.
The Barbers say they will now apply a fourth time, while the county council is launching an investigation into issues raised by the high court judge.
The proposal for a 100kW turbine at Brackenside Farm was first approved by the council in February 2012.
However, Andrew Joicey, who farms at Cornhill, sought a judicial review of the council’s handling of the proposal.
Permission was quashed by the judge, with the council agreeing to meet Mr Joicey’s costs of over £10,700.
The Barbers’ second application was also approved by the council, but Mr Joicey again won a judicial review and the authority had to pick up Mr Joicey’s costs, in the region of £7,000.
The application went before the council a third time in October last year, and was again approved.
Mr Joicey launched a third bid for judicial review, citing six grounds of unlawfulness in planning procedure.
At a court hearing in July, the council tried to have the challenge dismissed after Mr Joicey’s legal team submitted a copy of one document and not the original.
The judge branded the claim “disgraceful” and ruled the review could proceed, ordering the council pay Mr Joicey’s costs for the hearing of £9,500.
And now, following a further hearing last month, a judge has quashed the planning permission a third time.
Mr Joicey said: “I personally will not see the turbine, nor be affected by its noise from where I live, 4km away.
“However, lots of people will see it, and no doubt be annoyed by it, and will probably see the value of their hard earned homes fall as a result, with no chance of compensation.
“Also plenty of people could be affected by its noise, and that of the adjacent Barmoor turbines.
“Those people are not able to risk taking a judicial review, which is a very expensive business, yet those people have been let down by the council.”
Coun Allan Hepple, policy board member responsible for housing, planning and regeneration at the county council, said: “We are obviously very disappointed with the outcome of this case.
“We have successfully defended four of the six grounds of appeal, however the judge still chose to quash the application – and we understand the extreme frustration that this will have caused the applicant.
“The judge has commented on our information procedures and we take his observations extremely seriously. In view of this we will be carrying out a full investigation into the issues that have been raised and will take appropriate action upon the investigation’s conclusion.
”We would stress that we are a council which strives to have a very open and transparent planning system.”
John Barber said: “We are clearly very disappointed, we think the council made some mistakes but they are so small and we are sure they corrected them adequately.
“We feel the committee’s decision should have been upheld. It is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.
“It is not a big wind farm, it is just a single little turbine that is not going to bother anybody. I think Mr Joicey is making a nuisance of himself.
“We will have to give it another try. We need renewable energy and we have got to have different sources. This wind farm has got to be one of the sources.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding