Clark rules that wind appeal fails to satisfy new community backing test

Communities secretary Greg Clark has refused permission for a scheme comprising ten wind turbines in Lincolnshire, ruling that the project had failed to comply with strict new rules requiring such proposals to address the planning impacts identified by affected local communities.

Onshore wind: new written statement rules applied in recovered appeal decision (picture by Vieve Forward, Geograph)
Onshore wind: new written statement rules applied in recovered appeal decision (picture by Vieve Forward, Geograph)

Energy firm RWE Innogy had appealed against the decision of West Lindsey District Council to in November 2013 refuse to grant permission for the application to build ten wind turbines on land north of Hemswell Cliff, Lincolnshire.

In a decision letter issued this week, Clark agreed with the conclusions and recommendation of inspector Paul Jackson, who recommended that the appeal be dismissed. An alternative scheme comprising eight turbines was also rejected.

In his decision letter, Clark said that he had attached "substantial weight" to a written ministerial statement issued in June, which set out new tests for local authorities to apply when determining applications for wind energy development involving one or more turbines.

The written statement said that local planning authorities should only grant permission if the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a local or neighbourhood plan, and following consultation, "it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing".

In his decision on the Lincolnshire appeal, Clark applied transitional arrangements for where a wind application had already been submitted to a local planning authority at the date on which the statement was made and the development plan does not identify suitable sites.

In such instances, the letter said, local authorities can find proposals acceptable if they are satisfied that planning impacts identified by local communities have been addressed, and that therefore the proposal has their backing.

Clark’s letter said that. having applied the transitional arrangements to the Lincolnshire scheme, he "is not satisfied that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been addressed".

The letter said that there had been "extensive involvement" of the local population throughout the process. Affected communities had expressed concerns about harm to the landscape, visual amenity and the setting of heritage assets, "and it is clear from the inspector’s report that those planning impacts have not been addressed", Clark’s letter added.

It said: "As those planning impacts as identified by the affected communities have not been addressed, the proposed scheme would not meet the transitional arrangements set out in the written ministerial statement, and the secretary of state gives significant weight to this."

Clark’s letter concluded that the "combined adverse impacts" of the scheme would "significantly and demonstrably outweigh" its benefits.


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