High court blocks north Norfolk wind turbine bid

Judge rules earlier consent failed to comply with planning law relating to landscape and heritage sites

A decision to erect a wind turbine "in unspoilt landscape" has been blocked by the high court.

North Norfolk district council won a court order quashing the go-ahead for the turbine at Pond Farm, Bodham, Norfolk.

Deputy high court judge Robin Purchas QC, sitting in London, ruled that an inquiry inspector who gave the go-ahead had failed to comply with planning law relating to landscape and heritage sites.

The turbine was to be sited near Cromer Ridge, one of the highest points in north Norfolk, which has a number of listed buildings in the area.

They include the Grade I listed Barningham Hall, which is of Jacobean origin; Baconsthorpe Castle, also Grade I, and a number of Grade II* churches.

The council, which refused planning permission in August 2012, had argued the inspector's decision in favour of the turbine "flies in the face of the will of the local community".

Roger Howe, the authority's planning legal manager, said the application had generated 1,800 letters, emails and other representations from people, 1,450 of which had been against the turbine plan.

Council members expressed the fear that allowing the turbine could have wider implications for north Norfolk's economy by opening the gates to more onshore wind turbine applications, damaging the district's vital tourism industry.

The 86.5m (284ft) turbine would be seen from over five kilometres away creating an intrusion in an unspoilt landscape near the north Norfolk coast.

But developer David Mack, who operates Pond Farm with his family under the name Genatec, argued the turbine would generate energy for 665 homes and be "a good asset to the community".

In April last year, the planning inspector overturned on appeal a decision by the council's development committee unanimously refusing the turbine application.

But today Judge Purchas ruled the inspector did not comply with section 66(1) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act, which required him to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the settings of listed buildings.

The judge said that, had the inspector complied with the section, he could still have come to the same overall decision, but it was not possible to say that he would have "inevitably" have done so and his decision must be quashed.

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