High court overturns planning consent for three Northumberland wind turbines

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Planning consents for three individual wind turbines in north Northumberland have been overturned by the high court after being challenged by a Cornhill farmer. The decision may force the county council to consider changing the way it assesses planning applications for wind turbines.

Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee approved applications for turbines at Wark Common, Brackenside and New Haggerston in February.

There were many detailed objections to the Wark Common (71 metres to blade tip) and nearby Brackenside (47 metres to blade tip) proposals from local people regarding the poor quality of these applications, which had been accepted by planning officers. Residents also felt there were issues with the way the applications were handled.

There were also concerns north of the border, particularly in relation to the Wark Common turbine, which would have been visible from parts of Berwickshire.

One objector, Cornhill farmer Andrew Joicey, who has campaigned for several years against “inappropriate” wind development in Northumberland, volunteered to head up a legal challenge by applying to the High Court for a judicial review of the decisions.

On receiving his claim, Northumberland County Council conceded that proper procedure had not been followed in a number of instances and agreed that “the only correct course of action would be for the court to quash all three of the decisions”.

The high court issued a consent Order on June 6 ordering that the three decisions to grant planning permission be quashed, and that the council should pay Mr Joicey’s costs, amounting to over £10,000.

Mr Joicey believes the decision will force the council to reasses the way it assess planning applications for wind turbines.

He said: “I take no real pleasure in having to challenge the county council over their procedure in regard to wind farm planning matters. However, I have been concerned for a long time about the adequacy of the council’s consideration of turbine schemes.

“It has been abundantly clear for some time that there have been systemic errors in their handling of wind turbine applications, both for large-scale wind farms and for individual so-called ‘farm-scale’ turbines.

“Unfortunately this has led to several permissions being granted which will, I believe, result in an undesirable impact on rural landscapes and communities.

“I hope that this case has helped to show that the officers of the council are not always as correct or ‘professional’ or ‘expert’ as they are often made out to be, and I hope that members will realise that, sometimes, objectors are prepared to stick their neck out and apply to the court where errors of procedure have been made.”

A council spokesperson added: “Northumberland County Council has agreed to consent to an application for judicial review, brought by the opponent to three wind turbines within North Northumberland.

“The judicial review was heard at the Administrative Court in London on June 6 where the judge confirmed that there had been some procedural errors in the way that the council had processed the applications for the wind turbines and accordingly the respective planning permissions should be quashed.

“The effect of the quashing of the planning permission is that the applications will be dealt with afresh and determined by the county council in accordance with statutory procedures, including consultation, and timescales.”

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