Judge rules against village wind turbine plans

By stoplenchwickwindfarm | April 14, 2009

 

ELAINE MASLIN 12 April 2009 17:51

Original posting here:  EDP24 – Judge rules against village wind turbine plans

Villagers who have spent £50,000 on a six-year battle against a proposed wind farm on their doorstep look to have finally won their fight.

A high court judge has ruled that the "considerable rural charm" of the area of Guestwick, between Fakenham and Aylsham, is reason enough to refuse plans for a group of wind turbines there.

The decision has been greeted with relief for local residents who first faced energy firm Enertrag’s plans in 2003.

Guestwick parish meeting, which also represented other villages in the area, was at the front of the battle, part paid for by local fundraising, alongside Broadland Council.

Robin Back, chairman, said last night: "There is a sense of relief. The system has been proven to work.

"We have striven over six years to be reasonable and not to overreact. We looked at what was offered and saw the damage which could ensue to the local environment."

He said about £50,000 had been raised locally, most spent on legal fees, and people had given their time and skills too.

Some £1,200 was awarded in costs by the high court to the parish meeting.

Enertrag’s plans for six wind turbines, up to 125m high, with 45m-long blades at Skitfield Road, Guestwick, were first refused by Broadland Council in March 2005.

That decision was appealed but the appeal was dismissed. But that dismissal was then subject to a legal challenge which quashed it.

To decide the matter, an inquiry was set up and held in July 2007 and it ruled last year. This was then contested in the high court by Enertrag this year on March 9.

The main areas of contention were the visual impact of the proposal, noise and the extent to which air safety would be affected. Enertrag argued the inspector failed to show why there was a serious effect on listed buildings, there were no essential safety concerns relating to operations at Norwich Airport and the inspector had been wrong in suggesting the scheme could not be up and running by 2010.

Now deputy high court judge Frances Patterson QC, in the Royal Courts of Justice, has ruled against the plans. She said:

"Because of the strong and increasing need for renewable energy, I have found this to be a finely balanced case.

"But I have come to the final conclusion that the serious harm to the landscape and to the settings of some fine listed buildings outweighs the benefit in terms of sustainable energy production.

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