Ed Miliband’s barrister wife fails to overturn court ruling banning wind …

February 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

English Heritage had warned that the effect of the turbines on the landscape
would be “appalling”.

The Appeal Court refused an application by West Coast Energy, which was
represented by Miss Thornton, a barrister specialising in environmental and
planning law, and Gordon Nardell QC, to quash the ruling.

The developer had said that the High Court was wrong to overrule an
inspector’s decision to allow the wind farm on land at Barnwell Manor.

It insisted the inspector had been right to conclude that visual harm that
would be inflicted by the turbines on Lyveden New Bield would be “less
than substantial”.

But on Tuesday the Court of Appeal rejected the developer’s application to
have the High Court ruling overturned. Three judges said they “largely
echo” the original decision.

Barnwell Manor Wind Energy Ltd initially applied for permission to build five
wind turbines after the Duke of Gloucester, who owns the land, agreed it
could be used for development.

But those requests were refused by East Northamptonshire District Council in
January 2011. That decision was then appealed and permission was granted by
Paul Griffiths, a planning inspector, in March 2012 for four wind turbines.

Mr Griffiths said “reasonable observers” would not be “confused”
by the juxtaposition of historic buildings and a modern wind farm.

Campaigners against wind farms have nicknamed Mr Griffiths “Inspector
Blight” after approving turbines in 19 of the 22 cases he has heard
since May 2009, overturning decisions made by local councillors.

Last year the High Court ruled that his decision to allow the turbines at
Barnwell Manor had been “flawed”. The Appeal Court’s reinforcement
of that decision is likely to increase criticism by campaigners of Mr
Griffith’s handling of wind applications.

The ruling comes after Mark Bradshaw, the local National Trust manager, warned
that if the wind farm company won the appeal it would make it easier for
turbine developers to overcome the legal protection enjoyed by heritage

The wind industry had denied that a single ruling could set a precedent as all
applications were considered on a case-by-case basis.

In the judgment Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Lord Justice Sullivan and Lord
Justice Rafferty said the inspector failed to “grapple with” the
arguments by conservationists that the unspoilt setting of Lyveden New Bield
was of “crucial importance” to its significant as a historical
site and would be “seriously harmed” by the visual impact of the

The judgment was welcomed by English Heritage and the National Trust. Simon
Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: “We are very
pleased that the Court of Appeal has underlined the vital principle of
preserving important historic places like Lyveden New Bield – one of the
most beautiful and unspoilt Elizabethan landscapes in England.

“We have continued to argue that the original decision by East
Northamptonshire Council to refuse the application was absolutely right.

“The subsequent reasoning of the planning inspector did not pay enough
attention to the significance of this exotic jewel in the landscape; to
allow turbines here would have had an appalling impact on a very special

“This judgement reinforces the standards of decision-making that must be
applied when balancing the need for sustainable energy alongside the
commitment to preserve the most important aspects of the nation’s heritage.”

Dame Helen Ghosh, director general of the National Trust, said: “We are
committed to renewable energy but it has to work in the landscape. The Trust
aims to source 50 per cent of its energy from renewables, including wind, by
2020, but this shouldn’t be at any cost.

“Our core purpose as a conservation charity means we have a duty to
protect beautiful places like Lyveden and each wind proposal should be of a
scale and location that works with the special qualities of its setting.”

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