Plans to build two large windfarms on the Somerset Levels received a massive blow this week, but campaigners say the battle is far from won.
Huntspill Windfarm Action Group say they are delighted that the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Ecotricity to build four large turbines at Black Ditch in West Huntspill and that Sedgemoor District Council rejected plans from EDF to build a separate windfarm in Woolavington.
Ecotricity have hit back at the decision by the judges to back the Secretary of State, calling his decision “flawed”.
Members of the Huntspill Windfarm Action Group have been battling Ecotricity’s controversial plans to build a windfarm since 2009.
In 2013 the planning inspectorate held an inquiry after Ecotricity appealed against Sedgemoor’s decision to reject the plans for turbines at the Black Ditch site.
The resulting inquiry found that the turbines should be installed however then Secretary of State Eric Pickles decided to overrule the inspector’s findings.
The company took its case to the High Court last June, but Mr Justice Mitting backed the Secretary of State’s decision.
And last week three judges at the Court of Appeal seemed to lay the matter to rest after ruling that the Secretary of State’s decision would stand.
Then this week Sedgemoor District Council rejected EDF’s plans to build a windfarm at Withy End stating that the turbines would be an unacceptable intrusion on the flat landscape, there would be an unacceptable cumulative effect on the landscape when combined with other non-wind development and the potential harm to wildlife.
Roger Lucken, Huntspill Windfarm Action Group chairman said: “Its certainly good news.
“The whole concept of putting wind turbines of that scale on the Somerset Levels is just outrageous. It needed to be stopped.
“It’s been hard work and we delighted that the decision’s gone that way at the end of it.”
Despite the decisions in their favour the campaigners are not assuming the fight is over.
EDF now have six months to appeal Sedgemoor’s decision and depending on the results of the general election this week there may be more twists to the long running battle.
Mr Lucken continued: “One would assume EDF would look at that judgement and decide not to appeal Sedgemoor’s decision but it’s certainly a possibility.
“We’re also very aware of the election this week and if we have a new government that may alter the situation again.”
An Ecotricity spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with the decision. There’s no doubt in our minds that the Black Ditch site is absolutely an appropriate location for four wind turbines and meets all of the planning criteria, as evidenced by the recommendation for approval by the Planning Inspector.
“We believe Eric Pickles decision was flawed and his intervention in the planning process, not just for this project but for so many others too, to be politically motivated and that it brings the planning process into disrepute.”
The Weekly News could not obtain a statement from EDF before going to press.
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