An energy company denied planning permission for two 100m high wind turbines at a farm in Shipdham, near Dereham, because of danger to low flying aircraft has failed in a High Court challenge to the decision.
Ecotricity (Next Generation) Ltd had branded the refusal of consent as “irrational”.
It claimed in its High Court challenge that the country’s planning supremo, communities secretary Eric Pickles, and one of his inspectors were wrong in their view that the planned turbines would cause a material risk to aviation safety.
They argued among other things that the issue was not even raised at a public inquiry into the proposal for Wood Farm, Church Lane, Shipdham.
However, dismissing the challenge at London’s High Court, today, deputy judge Charles George QC said that, while Ecotricity may have been surprised to learn of the inspector’s concerns over aviation safety, it had been aware of an objection from the Shipdham Flying Club.
He said that it should have been obvious that the inspector would have to deal with the flying club’s objection, and Ecotricity should have been alerted of the need to address the issue.
The judge found that the inspector was not bound to raise the issue, or seek additional evidence on it, and had to make a decision based on the evidence before him.
On this issue, he said, the only evidence was from the flying club.
As a result, he said there was no “procedural unfairness” and no irrationality.
Ecotricity had argued that aviation safety never formed any part of Breckland District Council’s initial decision to refuse planning permission.
Council members rejected the proposal solely on the basis of impact on the landscape, despite their planning officers recommending approval.
Ecotricity branded the decision to reject its planning appeal on the basis of aviation safety “manifestly unfair and irrational”, with the inspector having accepted at the inquiry that the agreed position between the company and Norwich International Airport being that an aviation safeguarding condition should be imposed.
The Secretary of State took the view that the scheme would lead to an intensification of risk to aircraft, including those heading to and from Shipdham airfield.
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