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HIGH COURT BACKS REFUSAL OF LAKE DISTRICT WIND TURBINES

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court ref no: CO/0768/97 ...
court ref no: CO/0768/97

Developers' hopes of erecting ten 60-metre high wind turbines on windswept moorland close to the Lake District National Park were today finally dashed.

Deputy high court judge Christopher Lockhart-Mummery QC said an environment ministry planning inspector had been fully entitled to his view that to grant planning consent for the scheme would be an 'extremely damaging' precedent for the future.

And he rejected allegations by Wind Development UK Ltd, that the inspector had breached 'rules of natural justice' and not given it a fair hearing.

The company had planned to erect ten 61.5-metre high wind turbines to feed electricity into the national grid on what the judge described as 'windswept moorland' at Fairfield Farm, Pica, Distington, Cumbria.

Planning consent was first refused by Copeland BC and that decision was later upheld by a Ministry inspector on January 24 this year after a hard-fought public inquiry into the proposals.

Sebastian Head, for the developers, had attacked the inspector's decision, claiming a grant of planning permission in this case would make it less, nor more, likely that consent would be granted for other similar developments in the future.

The inspector, he claimed, had based his concerns about the precedent a grant of planning permission might set on the 'generalised' fears expressed in a number of letters from local residents.

And the company had never been given a proper opportunity to address the inspector on the precedent issue.

But the judge said the wind turbines would be 'extremely prominent' from certain view points and the inspector had clearly been of the view that wind farm developments would be more appropriate on the coastal plain than on higher ground.

The inspector had highlighted the 'harmful visual impact' of the development, finding it 'unacceptable on its own account quite apart from the precedent issue.'

The judge added: 'The inspector was entitled to reach the view that there was a likelihood that a grant of planning permission here would create pressure for developments of a similar nature on this elevated windswept moorland which stretches for many miles.

The inspector had been concerned by the potential 'cumulative impact' of a proliferation of wind farms and the judge ruled: 'I find he was justified by sufficient evidence in saying there was a likelihood such pressure would have a particularly damaging effect.'

'He was concerned with a swathe of countryside extending many miles at the foothills of the precious national park.'

Wind Development UK Ltd had its appeal against the inspector's decision dismissed and was ordered to pay the action's legal costs. The company did not seek leave to appeal.

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