Clark refuses Staffordshire wind turbines

Communities secretary Greg Clark has refused planning permission for two wind turbines at a farm in Staffordshire, despite a planning inspector's recommendation that the scheme be approved.

Onshore wind: tougher planning rules announced earlier this year
Onshore wind: tougher planning rules announced earlier this year

The decision is the latest example of Clark applying tough new standards introduced in a written ministerial statement (WMS) in June aimed fulfilling the Conservative Pary election manifesto pledge to halt the spread of onshore wind turbines.

The WMS said that where a wind power scheme was already in the planning system, and no suitable sites were identified in the relevant development plan, a scheme could only be approved if planning authorities were "satisfied it has addressed the planning impacts identified by local communities and therefore has their backing".

Stafford Borough Council had rejected the proposals for the 45 metre tall turbines that would have sited on agricultural land near Stone in August 2013. It said the proposals would be at odds with the local landscape and have a negative impact on a nearby conservation area.

Applicant Andrew Barnett appealed the decision and after an inquiry earlier this year, planning inspector David Pinner wrote to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) recommending the appeal be allowed on the grounds that it represented sustainable development and would have a limited impact on the locality.

But a decision letter written on Clark’s behalf dismissed the inspector’s advice and upheld Stafford Borough Council’s decision.

The letter said that due to the provisions set out in the WMS, the secretary of state was "not satisfied" that local concerns had been addressed.

It said: "In their responses to [Clark's] letter of 19 June, a number of members of the affected community repeated the concerns which they had previously expressed about the planning impacts of the scheme. These include the effects on the landscape and townscape quality.

"He finds that the proposed scheme would not meet the transitional arrangements set out in the WMS of 18 June 2015.

"Having weighed up all relevant considerations, the secretary of state concludes that the factors which weigh in favour of the proposed development do not outweigh its shortcomings and the conflict identified with national policy.

"He considers that there are material considerations of sufficient weight which would indicate that the appeal should be dismissed."

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