Judges have thrown out a bid to overturn a decision to refuse plans for a £38million windfarm in the Glenkens.
Developers 2020 Renewables appealed to the Court of Session after claiming the Scottish Government’s move to reject the 11-turbine proposal at Loch Hill near Dalry was “irrational, illogical and incoherent”.
However, judges disagreed and upheld the decision made by both the council and the government reporter.
Anti-windfarm campaigners protested outside the council’s offices in September 2013, prompting the planning committee to reject the proposals even though they had been recommended for approval.
And after that decision was backed by the Scottish Government last summer, 2020 Renewables appealed to the Court of Session.
They felt the reporter had not applied planning policy S21 – concerning the impact of turbines on the landscape – correctly.
The court judgement states that in 2020 Renewables’ view: “The reporter focused on whether the environmental and cumulative impacts were within acceptable bounds. However, this test does not appear in either policy S21 or the council’s interim guidance.
“The sole reason for refusal was cumulative harm to visual amenity but there was no assessment as to the degree or extent of this harm.”
As the reporter could find “no significant adverse impact” against the policy, his considerations were deemed “unintelligible” by the firm.
Their lawyer, Mr J Campbell QC, felt it was “illogical” the reporter had concerns about the harm to visual amenity due to his findings and called the decision “irrational”.
However, in their decision, Lord Menzies, Lord Bracadale and Lord Malcolm said: “We have to accept the statement that neither Mr Campbell nor his clients can understand why the appeal was lost. For ourselves, we have no such difficulty.
“Echoing Lord Gill’s comment on the reporter’s decision in the case before him, we consider this decision letter to be a ‘well-constructed document in which the reporter’s reasoning is lucid and well expressed’.
“We reject the criticisms that the decision was irrational, illogical and incoherent – and that any ‘lazy shorthand’ was used.
“It is not necessary to pray in aid the many decisions which emphasise that it is sufficient if the reasonable informed reader can understand the reasoning and the nature of the material considerations taken into account in respect of the determining issues.”
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