Developer Streetwood Wind Farm Norfolk Limited had appealed against South Norfolk District Council’s non-determination of an application for the four wind turbines and associated development at land around Busseys Loke north of Bungay Road, Hempnall.
Subsequently, a planning inspector recommended that application be approved but a decision letter issued on behalf of Pickles has overturned this recommendation.
The letter said Pickles agreed with the inspector that the proposed turbines would have "a significant adverse effect on the character of the landscape ... and would undermine the tranquillity of the area".
But the letter said Pickles disagreed with the inspector over the weight which should be given to the harm the development would cause to local heritage assets.
It said the secretary of state disagreed with the inspector’s" balancing of considerations ... and concludes that the less than substantial harm that he has identified to the setting of St Margaret’s Church and to the character and appearance of Hempnall Conservation Area, together with the harm to the character of the landscape in the vicinity of the proposed three turbines, outweigh the benefits of wind energy development and of exploiting a renewable resource in the national interest".
The letter said Pickles concluded that the proposals would lead to "environmental benefits relating to offsetting the effects of climate change".
However "weighing against the proposals he has also identified a significant level of harm to the setting of St Margaret’s Church in Hempnall, harm to the character and appearance of Hempnall Conservation Area and harm to the character of the landscape in the vicinity of the proposed three turbines.
"The secretary of state concludes that the harm he has identified outweighs the benefits of the proposals. He considers that the proposals conflict with saved local plan policies ... and that, in respect of [the National Planning Policy Framework], the impacts of the proposals are not, and cannot be made, acceptable".