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United Kingdom

United Kingdom

UK High Court rules against project on Queen's cousin's land

UK: UK developer West Coast Energy has lost a High Court battle against East Northamptonshire District Council over plans to build a 10MW wind farm on land owned by the Queen's cousin.

Campaigning... from an anti-Barnwell site
Campaigning... from an anti-Barnwell site

The Barnwell Manor wind farm would have used four 2.5MW turbines. West Coast's planning application was first refused in January last year.

The developer then appealed the decision in July later that year and won the appeal. This was subsequently challenged in the High Court by the council, which was supported by conservation charities the National Trust and English Heritage.

A High Court judge ruled the decision to proceed was legally flawed. A decision on the project was due last year. However shortly before the decision it was revealed the judge was also a member of English Heritage and The National Trust, and West Coast asked for another judge.

Opponents argue that the land, which is owned by the Duke of Gloucester and contains a number of historical landmarks such as Lyveden New Bield, an unfinished 17th-century summer house, would be damaged by the presence of the four wind turbines.

Speaking in response to the judgement and claims that it sets a legal precedent, trade body RenewableUK deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: "It would be wrong to suggest that any kind of precedent has been set on this occasion, as each wind farm application is considered on a case-by-case basis.

"The fact that this application went to the High Court shows that, at times, decisions are finely balanced and difficult to reach. The very same High Court judge, Mrs Justice Lang, upheld applications for two wind farms in Norfolk in January — even though campaigners against renewable energy had tried to cite heritage issues in that particular case. 

"So any attempt to claim that one single judgment sets an unchangeable pattern is incorrect. Any case can go either way, depending on the exact circumstances".

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