Devon

Den Brook wind turbine challenge rejected by High Court

Wind turbine
Image caption RES said it was relieved to be able to "move on and build the wind farm"

The latest legal challenge against plans for a wind farm in Devon has been rejected by the High Court.

Mike Hulme, from Crediton, wanted the court to overturn planning permission for nine turbines in the Den Brook Valley.

Mr Hulme is a member of the Den Brook Judicial Review group which has been fighting the plan for five years.

He was challenging the government's decision to allow Renewable Energy Systems (RES) to erect the turbines.

Judge Frances Patterson QC rejected all 10 grounds of Mr Hulme's challenge.

'Thorough and responsible'

He had challenged the decision by the Communities and Local Government Secretary to grant permission for the wind farm, consisting of nine 120m (390ft) high turbines, on land near the villages of North Tawton and Bow.

Mr Hulme, whose home is a short distance from the closest proposed wind turbine, had previously succeeded in having planning permission made subject to certain conditions to control potential noise pollution.

One of the grounds put forward during the latest court hearing - which was contested by RES - was the argument that the wording of the conditions was so defective as to make them "useless for our protection".

Dismissing the action, the judge refused permission to appeal, but it is open to Mr Hulme to approach the Court of Appeal directly in a bid to take the case further.

RES said it was delighted with Judge Patterson's ruling, which proved it had been "thorough and responsible" in its development and design and had worked hard to minimise any potential impact.

Image caption Opponents says the wind turbines will "devastate a beautiful valley"

Helen Hall, the company's project manager for Den Brook, said: "We are really pleased that a line has finally been drawn, at the highest level, under any doubts about this wind farm.

"The project has been given planning consent twice after two detailed public inquiries and has also been the subject of two High Court challenges.

"We are relieved that we can now move on and build the wind farm."

Construction, which will take about 12 months, is expected to begin next year.

RES will provide £36,000 a year for the lifetime of the wind farm to be spent by the local communities on local projects.

It has also set up a community liaison group which will meet every few months throughout the construction process to keep local people appraised of progress.

When complete, the turbines should produce enough power for 16,000 homes on an average output of eight to 10 megawatts, although this figure has been questioned by opponents of the scheme.

Their main objection, however, has been the "devastation to a beautiful valley" they claim the wind farm will cause.

Mr Hulme said: "We will scrutinise the judgement and then decide if we need to take it forward and appeal the review.

"We still have major concerns because RES are on the one hand saying there will be no noise nuisance and yet they have proposed a means of dealing with the noise condition which actually permits more noise."

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