An objector’s last-ditch bid to to scrap plans for a wind turbine “taller than St Paul’s Cathedral” being built on his doorstep has now spilled over into the Court of Appeal.
Benji Howell, who lives with his wife in Barsham, near Beccles, has been fighting the controversial plans for the erection of the 125m turbine ever since a government planning inspector gave it the green light in April 2014.
Mr Howell lives just 500m away from the site at Laurel’s Farm and says the turbine would dominate the landscape and damage the charm of the surrounding area.
The dispute reached the High Court in November last year when Mr Justice Cranston rejected Mr Howell’s challenge, although expressing reservations about the scale of the project.
The judge said he was “troubled by a turbine which will be taller than St Paul’s Cathedral”, but could find no error in the planning inspector’s approach.
However, Mr Howell is now battling on in the Court of Appeal, arguing his case before three of the country’s most senior judges.
One of the core issues in the case is the question of the “visual impact” the towering structure would have on the landscape of the Norfolk Broads.
Mr Justice Cranston last year ruled that the secretary of state’s planning inspector had “carefully assessed” that issue.
The inspector had concluded that, although the turbine would be large and unusual, there was no aesthetic reason to prevent its construction.
Mr Howell’s home is the closest residence to the proposed turbine and his lawyers say the “insidious” noise and whirr of the machine would disrupt his peace and quiet.
If nothing else, the planning inspector should have considered imposing a condition requiring the turbine to be operated at a modified speed during daylight, they argued. But lawyers for the secretary of state for communities and local government are defending the planning permission.
Andrew Tait QC told the court: “As to the Broads in particular, the inspector concluded that there would be no adverse effects.”
Lords Justice Richards and Briggs, sitting with Sir David Keene, have now reserved their decision on Mr Howell’s appeal and will give their ruling at a later date.
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