High Court supports West Norfolk wind farm plans

Example of an onshore wind turbine
Image caption Residents said wind turbines would spoil views

Two wind farms can now go ahead in West Norfolk after a High Court judge backed a government inspector's approval.

The wind farm plans for Bagthorpe and Stanhoe were originally thrown out by West Norfolk Borough Council in 2011 but later approved by the inspector.

Campaigners claimed an expert witness changed his view between writing a report and giving evidence, and requested the ruling be quashed.

Mrs Justice Lang rejected claims the 11 turbines would spoil views.

In May, the government's planning inspector granted permission for both wind farms, despite opposition from residents and conservation bodies including English Heritage.

The inspector's report said the benefits of both schemes "clearly outweigh" any "identified harm".

Two action groups - Against Turbines At Chiplow (ATAC) and Creakes Action for Protecting the Environment (CAPE) - sought permission to force the secretary of state for communities and local government to reconsider the two applications.

'Insufficient evidence'

The groups said the turbines - which will be either 100m (328ft) or 125m (410ft) high - would be visible from Bloodgate Hill Fort, a nearby protected ancient monument.

They claimed the inspector failed to take into account key expert Dr Jonathan Edis's oral testimony that the harm would be greater than he first indicated in his written evidence.

Residents argued the inspector reached his conclusion based solely on Dr Edis's written evidence.

The judge rejected that claim, and said: "The evidence is insufficient to enable me to accept the claimants' submission."

Dr Edis had said the Chiplow turbines would be "noticeable" from the fort but the judge ruled this was not the same as "a noticeable change" in the landscape.

She said Dr Edis had clearly made this distinction in his written evidence.

"The revision for which the claimants contend would be a very significant change from his written evidence," she said.

"The evidence before me is insufficient for me to conclude that he made such a significant change to his evidence."

She also rejected the claim that the inspector failed to give adequate reasons for his decision.

The energy companies behind the plans are E.On Climate Change Renewables and RES UK and Ireland Ltd.

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