Wind turbines refused due impact on 5 listed buildings

A recovered appeal for 4 wind turbines in Buckinghamshire open countryside has been refused, in line with an inspector's recommendation, due to a failure to preserve the settings of five listed buildings and a less than substantial harm caused by this.

The proposed wind farm had the potential to deliver between 20,400 and 23,240 MWh of energy per year, with the potential to supply energy to between 4,650 and 5,250 homes, providing CO savings of up to 89,200 tonnes over the 25 year lifetime of the wind farm. The secretary of state commented on the usefulness of evidence and witnesses and followed a methodology of assessment of the evidence, which adopted an approach used by three landscape witnesses at the inquiry by looking at landscape impact first, followed by visual impact and then heritage assets. He found that the proposal would harm the character and appearance of the landscape, but that there were mitigating factors which combined to reduce the overall degree of harm. The proposal would have harmful visual impacts at locations up to 5km from the appeal site, but some mitigating factors would reduce the overall harm. He further found that the visual impacts would be so unpleasant at a nearby farm as to render that dwelling an unsatisfactory place to live and this was a consideration that had a very great adverse weight.

In reaching the heritage asset conclusion regard was had to government advice which explained that onshore wind turbines were generally consented on the basis that they will be time-limited in operation. It goes on to say that account should therefore be taken, when considering any indirect effect on the historic environment such as the effects on the setting of designated heritage assets, of the length of time for which consent is sought. The change in the setting of heritage assets caused by the presence of wind turbines is both reversible and time-limited. While this consideration did not reduce the magnitude of the harm caused for the duration of their operational life, it did reduce the significance of that harm in any assessment of acceptability. However the proposal would cause less than substantial harm to the significance of designated heritage assets and the proposal was refused.

Inspector: Jessica Graham; Inquiry

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