Pickles blocks three more wind energy projects

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has refused permission for three wind energy projects comprising 12 turbines, rejecting his inspectors' recommendations to allow two of the three recovered appeals.

Heritage asset: St Etheldreda’s Church at West Halton (picture: Wikimedia Commons)
Heritage asset: St Etheldreda’s Church at West Halton (picture: Wikimedia Commons)

In decision letters issued just before Christmas, the communities secretary refused permission for five wind turbines in South Northamptonshire, four in Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, and three in North Lincolnshire.

In the first of the three decisions, inspector John Woolcock had recommended that Broadview Energy's appeal against South Northamptonshire Council's decision to refuse to grant permission for five turbines between Greatworth and Helmdon be allowed.

But Pickles disagreed, dismissing the appeal. The secretary of state agreed with the inspector that the benefits and disadvantages of the proposal are "finely balanced".

But he concluded that the material considerations in favour of the proposal "are not sufficient to outweigh the likely adverse impacts, in particular the identified harm to heritage assets as well as the character and visual amenity of the area".

In the second of the three decisions, Pickles also disagreed with the conclusions of inspector Robert Mellor, who had recommended that FCC Environmental's appeal against North Lincolnshire Council's to refuse permission for three turbines at West Halton near Winterton should be allowed.

Pickles rejected the appeal, finding that the proposal "does not accord with the development plan taken as a whole". In the decision letter, Pickles gave "considerable importance and weight" to the need to preserve the setting of the Grade II* listed St Etheldreda’s Church at West Halton and gave "substantial weight to the identified minor harm to the setting and significance of the upstanding Bronze Age burial mound on West Halton village green".

In the third decision, Pickles agreed with the conclusions of inspector Jessica Graham, who had recommended that Force 9 Energy and EDF ER's appeal against Aylesbury Vale District Council's decision to refuse permission for four turbines should be refused.

In his note, Pickles concluded that the scheme "conflicts with the development plan" and "does not amount to sustainable development".

An analysis of 2014 secretary of state decisions carried out by Planning ahead of the publication of the three decision notes and published today found a sharp increase in the number of wind energy recovered appeal decisions compared to 2013.

The majority of wind energy appeals decided last year by Pickles were refused permission, with only three of nearly 30 wind energy recovered appeals being allowed by the secretary of state in 2014.

DCS Number (South Northamptonshire): 200-003-111

DCS Number (Aylesbury Vale): 200-003-112

DCS Number (North Lincolnshire): 200-003-113

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