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In a clear indication that the visual and other impacts of the ever-increasing number of wind farms have become a matter of Central Government concern, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government overruled one of his own planning inspectors in scotching plans for a six-turbine development in East Yorkshire.
Local planners refused consent for the project but the inspector advised approval following an appeal by the would-be developer. However, the Secretary of State went his own way and refused to grant planning permission. He took a different view from his inspector on key issues, including the effect on the surrounding landscape and the cumulative impact on residential amenity in an area which already had a high density of wind farms.
The developer mounted a High Court challenge to the Secretary of State’s ruling, arguing that he had failed to give adequate reasons for differing from the inspector. In dismissing the appeal, however, the Court found no evidence that his decision was affected by anything other than proper planning reasons, with which the developer ‘happened to disagree’.
The Secretary of State had not considered any new evidence in respect of which he would have been required to give all sides an opportunity to make further representations. The cumulative impact of the number of wind farms in the area had been an issue throughout the planning process and all parties had had a fair opportunity to comment upon it.