Wind turbines marching across the countryside are not to everyone’s taste and are a constant source of controversy. However, it was concerns about aircraft safety, not the visual impact on the landscape, which resulted in planning permission being refused for two 100 metre high turbines in rural Norfolk.
The local authority had refused consent for the project contrary to the advice of its own planning officers. The would-be developer, a power generation company, later had its appeal dismissed by a government inspector. He found that, given the site’s proximity to an aerodrome used by a private flying club, the turbines would pose a material risk to aviation safety.
In challenging the inspector’s ruling at the High Court, the company argued that it was irrational and procedurally unfair. The council had refused consent purely on visual impact grounds and the company complained that it was taken by surprise when aviation safety became the focus of the inspector’s attention.
However, in upholding the inspector’s decision, the Court noted that the company was aware of the flying club’s objection prior to the public inquiry and the need to address the aircraft safety issue should have been obvious. The inspector had reached his conclusions squarely on the evidence before him.