Court of Appeal restores wind turbine appeal after landowner challenge

A decision of the High Court to strike down an inspector's decision (DCS No. 400-004-664) to grant planning permission for a single wind turbine in Northamptonshire was reversed, the Court of Appeal concluding that appropriate reasons had been provided on the issue of impact on heritage assets.

The inspector had found that the turbine would affect the setting of various listed buildings but this would be less than substantial in extent as set out in the NPPF. The benefits of the scheme were held to outweigh the harm caused. Subsequently the High Court in response to a challenge from a local opposition group, held that the inspector had failed to demonstrate that he had referred to and had due regard for the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This required the decision maker positively to demonstrate by the reasons given that considerable weight had been given to the desirability of preserving the setting of relevant listed buildings following the ruling in East Northamptonshire District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2014) and notwithstanding that it was contrary to the general position on reasons explained in Save Britain’s Heritage v Number 1 Poultry Ltd [1991].

In agreeing with the landowner who brought the appeal, Lord Justice Richards held that the High Court judge had read too much into the East Northamptonshire decision. The issue was whether the inspector had given adequate and intelligible reasons as set out in Save Britain’s Heritage v No 1 Poultry Ltd [1991] and South Bucks District Council v Porter (No.2) [2004] or whether there had been substantial prejudice. The reasons given by the inspector had to be read as a whole and if the High Court had applied the correct test, it could not be said that unintelligible reasons had been provided. On the contrary express reference had been made to paragraph 134 of the NPPF which was a strong indication that the inspector had had section 66(1) of the Act in mind. A decision made by reference to the NPPF would fulfil the statutory duty the court held and the decision was reinstated.

Jones v Mordue

Date: 3 December 2015

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