Adverse impacts on the local landscape and the setting of heritage assets have led the secretary of state to dismiss alternative plans for eight or ten wind turbines in Lincolnshire.
The site consisted of several large arable fields close to a village and a limestone escarpment area of great landscape value. The turbines would have a height to blade tip of almost 127 metres and a total installed capacity of up to 25 megawatts.
The appellants claimed that the district had great potential to accommodate onshore wind energy schemes. They argued that eight or ten turbines would operate within acceptable environmental limits and would have no adverse impact on protected landscapes, while the impact on the setting of heritage assets would be less than substantial.
The council, supported by local objectors, maintained that the presumption in favour of sustainable development in paragraph 14 of the National Planning Policy Framework did not apply because the development did not comply with the framework’s policies on heritage assets. The project did not comprise sustainable development because of the adverse impact on the landscape and sensitive receptors, it argued.
The secretary of state attached substantial weight to the June 2015 written ministerial statement on the new considerations applicable to wind energy developments. He agreed that neither scheme would have a substantial impact on the setting of heritage assets, but did not think that the harm caused should be given less than substantial weight. In his view, the landscape impact would be significantly adverse, although he accepted that no harm would arise for people with autism or for local tourism and businesses.
He was not convinced that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities, who had consistently voiced their concerns throughout the planning process, had been adequately addressed. Harm to the landscape, visual amenity and heritage assets outweighed the government’s commitment to securing more electricity from renewable sources, he concluded.
Inspector: Paul Jackson; Inquiry
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