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Heritage Site Wind Farm Planning Consent Quashed

Wind turbineWith the backing of English Heritage and the National Trust, a local authority has won a High Court challenge to plans for a wind farm that conservationists fear could result in substantial harm to a heritage area of national significance. The High Court overturned a planning inspector’s decision to approve the propoals and directed a reconsideration of the case.

Developers, West Coast Energy Limited, had submitted plans for four 300-feet-tall turbines on farmland at Barnwell Manor, in Sudborough, Northamptonshire. Planning consent was refused by East Northamptonshire District Council after concerns were raised in respect of the development’s impact on local panoramic views and the setting of Lyveden New Bield, a 17th-century lodge which has one of the finest surviving examples of an Elizabethan garden in the country.

The developer’s appeal was upheld by a government inspector who granted planning permission after a public inquiry. Overturning that decision, the court ruled that the inspector had failed ‘properly to interpret and apply the relevant planning policies on the effect of development on the setting of heritage sites, which meant that the balancing exercise was flawed’.

Conservationists had warned that if they lost the case the protection of other important historic sites around the country could be undermined. A National Trust representative said after the court’s decision: ‘We are delighted with the outcome. We hope that this brings to an end a five-year battle to preserve and protect the important setting of some of our most significant heritage assets. Lyveden is of international importance. The harm to heritage assets like Lyveden should be weighed against the benefits of wind farms.’