In dismissing a challenge to wind farm proposals, the High Court emphasised that government policy generally favours renewable energy developments and rejected arguments that a planning inspector failed in his obligation to give ‘great weight’ to the project’s impact on a nearby area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
Purbeck Windfarm LLP. had been refused planning consent for the four-turbine wind farm on a site 800 metres outside the Dorset AONB by Purbeck District Council. However, a government planning inspector subsequently upheld the developer’s appeal after a nine-day public inquiry and granted planning permission.
The court rejected a local resident’s primary complaint that the inspector had failed to give adequate weight to the development’s harmful impact on the character and appearance of the AONB. Submissions that the inspector failed to correctly weigh the advantages of the wind farm against the harm it would cause were also dismissed, as were claims that he did not take enough account of the safety aspects of the development, including its proximity to a road and its potential distracting effect on motorists.
The court observed that the inspector was not taking ‘an examination paper’ and was not obliged to formulaically recite every relevant planning policy. It also noted that the government’s national planning policy framework generally favours renewable energy developments and requires local authorities to promote energy generation from renewable and low carbon sources.