Editor's pick: Turbine decision quashed due to information flaws

A tenant farmer in Northumberland has persuaded the High Court to quash the council's decision to grant permission for a wind farm on the grounds that it failed to make a noise assessment publicly available or to set appropriate noise limits.

The claimant argued that the council had failed to publish an acoustic report on its website in a timely manner and the public had then been given insufficient time to comment upon it. He also claimed that the council had allowed higher noise levels to be experienced at properties occupied by a number of tenant farmers, on the erroneous assumption that they had a direct financial interest in the project

Mr Justice Cranston agreed that the challenge should succeed. He found that the council had backdated publication of the noise assessment to the date when it was received and this had potential to mislead members of the public. In his view, there had been a clear breach of the public’s right to know what the report contained, contrary to section 110D of the Local Government Act 1972. The claimant had the right to have the decision quashed unless it would inevitably have been the same, he held. 

The judge also accepted that tenants on the farm holding did not have a financial interest in the scheme and found the council had failed to deal adequately with this aspect of the development when setting noise limits at affected properties. It had not appreciated that more stringent noise limits could be legitimately applied to properties where occupiers did not have a financial involvement in the proposed development, he ruled.

Joicey v Northumberland County Council;

Date: 7 November 2014;

Ref: CO/347/2014

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