National Trust and English Heritage launch legal challenge against Northants wind farm approval

The National Trust, English Heritage and East Northamptonshire Council have launched a joint legal challenge against a planning inspector’s approval of four wind turbines within one mile of a Grade I listed building.

Inspector Paul Griffiths granted approval for the scheme at Sudborough in Northamptonshire in March. He said that the benefits of the project – which would include four 125-metre high turbines – in terms of the renewable energy it would produce would “outweigh the less than substantial harm it would cause to the setting of designated heritage assets”.

East Northamptonshire District Council had refused permission for the West Coast Energy scheme – which would be built within one mile of Lyveden New Bield, a National Trust site – in January 2011.

The developer then appealed the decision and a public inquiry was held in November and December last year, before the inspector granted permission in March 2012.

Today, in a joint statement, the National Trust, English Heritage and East Northamptonshire Council said that they had started legal proceedings against the decision under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Section 288 provides a legal right for people who are affected by planning permission to apply to the courts for redress if they can show that the decision-maker made an erroneous decision in law.

The statement said that the wind turbines would be “prominent, modern, intrusive structures” and would “severely affect the appreciation of this wonderful place”.

In their statement the organisations said it is “extremely rare” for English Heritage and the National Trust to pursue legal action and it is the first time that East Northamptonshire Council has ever taken a case to this level.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, director-general of the National Trust, said: “The decision to allow a development of this size so close to one of the country’s most treasured historic places is both damaging to Lyveden New Bield and could have serious implications for other heritage sites across the UK.”

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