DC Casebook: Appeal cases - Turbines agreed despite rejection history

The secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform has granted permission under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 and section 90 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for 22 wind turbines in Devon despite the failure of previous appeals involving the site.

Each turbine would generate 3MW of power, providing a total output of 66MW. The individual turbines would have a 65m hub height and support three-bladed rotors with a diameter of 90m. The scheme also involved the construction of an electricity substation, access tracks and an on-site batching plant to enable the construction of turbine bases.

The inspector noted that previous appeals for wind turbines on and adjacent to the site had been dismissed in 1992, 1994 and 2001. He acknowledged that his recommendation that consent should be granted departed from those of previous inspectors. However, he felt that circumstances has been altered by a "radically different" policy base driven by the twin priorities of cutting carbon dioxide emissions and maintaining reliable and competitive energy supplies, implemented through a "cascade" of targets.

He accepted that the scheme's landscape and visual impacts would be considerable, causing an adverse effect upon the North Devon area of outstanding natural beauty. However, he was satisfied that it would make a major contribution to meeting the county's renewable energy targets.

Without it, he opined that targets for 2010 were unlikely to be met. Climate change could also have a significant impact on the local landscape, he reasoned. While conceding that the precise nature of these was difficult to predict, he decided that this factor needed to be set against the adverse impacts of the turbines.

The secretary of state agreed with these conclusions. A late request from Defence Estates for the turbines to be lit at night and in foggy conditions did not justify reopening the inquiry to discuss the matter further, she held. She agreed that lighting would increase the visual impact of the turbines at night but concluded that this did not justify setting aside the inspector's recommendation.

DCS Number 100-051-201

Inspector Chris Gossop; Inquiry.

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