High court blasts turbines

Campaigners in Northamptonshire are celebrating after the High Court upheld their legal challenge to planning permission for an ‘appalling’ wind farm that would have cast a shadow over one of Britain’s last remaining Elizabethan landscapes (see next week’s issue for a special feature on wind farms).

The four 295ft turbines that were due to be built on farmland at Barn-well Manor, near Oundle, looked set to dominate the view at Lyveden New Bield, which is home to a Grade I-listed house and gardens.

Local opponents, together with the National Trust and English Heritage, argued this would permanently spoil a site ‘of national significance’, but the planning inspector approved the proposal on appeal after permission was initially refused by East Northamptonshire Council. The organisations then teamed up to take the inspector to court, where Mrs Justice Lang ruled that he had failed to fulfil his statutory duty to ‘have special regard to the desirability of preserving a listed building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest’. A fresh inquiry will now be held to reassess the appeal against the original planning decision.

‘Justice has been done, and it’s a vast relief to a good many people,’ says Peter Stephens, chairman of the Stop Barnwell Manor Wind Farm campaign. The National Trust has welcomed the decision, but says it will continue to assess wind farm proposals on a case-by-case basis. Its director general, Helen Ghosh, says she is ‘delighted that our visitors’ experience of [Lydeven’s] beautiful setting is now one step closer to being safeguarded’.

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