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JUDGE ENDORSES PLANNING INSPECTORS REFUSAL OF WINDFARM

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case no: CO/2572/94 ...
case no: CO/2572/94

The high court has upheld the decision of a planning inspector to endorse the refusal of planning permission by Devon DC for two wind turbine electricity generating 'farms' on the North Devon coast.

Judge Nigel McLeod said he could find no legal error in an environment ministry planning inspector's refusal to grant planning permission to West Coast Wind Farms Limited.

The judge's ruling was a victory for the West Down and Bittadon Anti-Wind Turbine Group, the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Ilfracombe Town Council and others who objected to the company's scheme.

West Coast Wind Farms had complained that the inspector had 'misinterpreted and misapplied' Government policy in favour of the exploitation of renewable energy sources.

And the company claimed the inspector, had 'over-emphasised the adverse effects in respect of noise'.

But Judge McLeod said the inspector had found that the wind farms would have an 'unacceptable impact' on the local landscape.

They would cause 'serious harm to the residential amenities of occupiers in the vicinity by reason of visual dominance and noise', the inspector had ruled.

The wind farms would be 'wholly unacceptable in their landscape effects on middle distance views' and the Inspector found that they would be contrary to the 'conservation objectives' of local planning strategy.

West Coast Wind Farms claimed the inspector had failed to follow Government guidelines that it was 'absolutely essential to develop and exploit as much as possible all sources of renewable energy'.

He had failed to carry out the correct 'balancing exercise' between the compelling need for the wind farms and harm to the local landscape.

But Judge McLeod told the court: 'given the inspector's finding that the proposal was unacceptable, it is difficult to see how he could have allowed the company's appeal even if he had attached greater weight to need'.

The Inspector had also given 'careful and detailed analysis' of the controversial noise issue.

'He considered evidence which indicated that many people find turbine noise to be acceptable.

'But his overall conclusion was that the appeal site occupied a generally peaceful rural area which in his judgement would become a less pleasant place in which to live as a result of noise from these proposals adversely effecting residents during some daylight hours.

'I have concluded that the inspector did not make errors in dealing with the issue of noise in the way that has been alleged', concluded the judge.

West Coast Wind Farms had planned to construct 17 wind turbines on Fullabrook Farm, near West Down, and another nine at Crackaway Barton, 1.5 Kilometres away.

The company's planning appeal was dismissed by the judge and it was ordered to pay the environment ministry's legal costs.

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