Protestors against a huge wind turbine in Woodborough suffered another legal defeat at the hands of three of the country’s top judges in London today (February 16).
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, and Lords Justices Sales and Flaux unanimously threw out the latest challenge aimed at blocking the plan for 67.6 metre high turbine at Woodborough to provide power for a local farm which stands in the Green Belt.
Today’s highly complex judgment at London’s Appeal Court came as the latest decision in a legal battle which goes back years.
In a judgment running to 4,500 words Lord Burnett said that Christopher James Holder, one of the opponents of the turbine had argued that Gedling Borough Council were misled by one of their officers prior to granting permission for the scheme.
He said Mr Holder was a member of a local group of objectors – Woodborough and Calverton Against Turbines (WACAT) and that he had previously taken a seven point challenge over the scheme to the High Court.
However, the High Court judge had dismissed the challenge rejecting all points raised in it.
In the latest round of the battle, however, Mr Holder took the case to the Appeal Court arguing against the judge’s ruling on just one of the points rejected by the High Court judge.
Lord Burnett said Mr Holder had only been granted permission to appeal in relation to that a single ground relating to interpretation of a 2015 statement by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government setting out new considerations relating to planning permission for wind turbines.
He said: “The issue in this appeal is whether in granting planning permission for a wind turbine Gedling Borough Council misinterpreted the statement.
“The appellant contends that the officer in his report misinterpreted the statement and hence gave incorrect advice that the planning committee was entitled to conclude that the development complied with its guidance.”
However, after a detailed probe into the wording of the statement and the interpretation that should be put on it Lord Burnett, in dismissing the appeal, said that if Mr Holder’s view was right the statement would “come into conflict with national policy and local policy in favour of renewable energy”.
“This would have the effect of undermining national and local policies to a significantly greater degree than the Secretary of State can have intended,” he said.
The court instead backed the interpretation put on the policy by the Council and in rejecting Mr Holder’s challenge the judge said Richard Harwood QC who had acted for Mr Holder had accepted that if Mr Holder’s interpretation was wrong the appeal must fail.
The court considered his interpretation was wrong and the judge said: “In the result the appeal will be dismissed.
Councillor John Clarke is the leader of Gedling Borough Council, and represents the Netherfield Ward for Labour.
He said: “We welcome the decision made by the High Court. This has been a very lengthy legal case that has taken up many officers’ time preparing the defence of the original decision, which the High Court agrees was correct.
“We hope this will now draw a line under the matter.”