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Community Wind Farm Appeal Refused Because Of Heritage Impacts

The Secretary of State has dismissed an appeal against the refusal by Bolsover District Council to grant planning permission for one of the largest ever community run windfarms in England. The case is of particular interest as it grapples with, in the context of planning decision making, the weight to be given to community 'not for profit' renewable energy schemes as well as the importance of harm to heritage assets. Some of the assets (esp Hardwick New Hall, one of the most impressive houses built in the Tudor period) were agreed to be of international importance.

Roseland Community Windfarm LLP had appealed the Council's refusal and the case was recovered for decision by the Secretary of State by a direction, made under section 79 and paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, on 20 June 2014. The decision follows a major multi-party inquiry in November 2014. The Secretary of State agreed with the subsequent recommendation by the Inspector that the proposal should not be allowed to go ahead.

In particular, the Secretary of State agreed that the renewable energy benefits of the scheme attracted significant weight. He also considered that some weight should be attached to the community led aspects of the scheme. However, he considered the extensive harm that would be caused to heritage assets was considerably greater than that acknowledged by the appellant. In an interesting application of NPPF policy (including paragraphs 14, 97 and 131-135) allied to consideration of statutory duties in s66 of the LB Act, the Secretary of State attached considerable importance and weight to the desirability of preserving the setting of the various important heritage assets that would be affected by the proposed development. Overall, the Secretary of State found that the adverse impacts of the proposal on the settings significantly and demonstrably outweighed the benefits of the proposal.

Tom Cosgrove appeared for the Council. A copy of the Decision can be found here.