Pickles overrules inspector to block Yorkshire wind farm

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has overruled a planning inspector and blocked plans for a wind farm of up to ten turbines near Ryedale in North Yorkshire after attaching 'very significant weight' to the scheme's impact on the landscape.

Developer RWE Npower Renewables Ltd has appealed Ryedale District Council’s refusal of the scheme in 2011.

The application was for permission to construct up to ten wind turbines with a maximum height of 126 metres, along with associated infrastructure including access tracks and a sub-station at land at east Heslerton Wold, East Heslerton.

Following a public inquiry, inspector Paul Jackson had recommended that the development be approved.

But a decision letter issued on a behalf of Pickles this week said the secretary of state disagreed with the inspector’s conclusion.

The letter said Pickles agreed "that there is no dispute that the proposal would make a very significant and useful contribution to renewable energy in Ryedale".

It said he also agreed that "the contribution it would make to renewable energy production and CO2 savings attract very significant weight in favour of the proposal".

But the letter said Pickles agreed with the assessment of the director of planning at the neighbouring North York Moors National Park "that the proposal would introduce a highly intrusive form of development which owing to its scale, vertical emphasis, the number of turbines, their elevated siting, movement and prominence on the horizon would seriously undermine these landscape features".

The letter said: "Though there are no specifically identified special qualities of the National Park which comprise distant views towards the Wolds, the secretary of state accepts the director’s view that the relationship between the various component parts of the wider landscape is such that the proposal would impact adversely upon the public enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Park within its south-eastern edge area.

"The secretary of state attaches significant weight to the adverse impact on public enjoyment of the Park".

Elsewhere, the letter said Pickles had concluded that the inspector’s description of harm to the setting of the Grade I listed church of St Andrew’s in East Heslerton as ‘minor’ "underplays the degree of harm".

"The secretary of state considers that the development would conflict with [local planning policy] due to the adverse impact on historical interests", the letter said.

Overall, the letter said Pickles concluded that the proposal "conflicts with the development plan and, having had particular regard to paragraph 98 of the [National Planning Policy] Framework, the secretary of state considers that the sum of environmental impacts of the proposal are not and cannot be made acceptable".

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