Wind farms can be seen for miles around and their visual impact on nearby heritage assets can frequently prove decisive in planning terms. That was certainly so in one case in which proposals for five wind turbines within sight of a listed church were scotched by the High Court.

The church stood in a village which had been abandoned for more than 20 years following a catastrophic explosion at a nearby oil refinery. Although no longer serving a parish, the church was carefully maintained by a charity and was Grade I listed, along with a cross and schoolhouse within its grounds.

A company’s application to build five 100-metre high turbines nearby was rejected by the local authority and by a government planning inspector after a public inquiry. Although the relevant site was close to the refinery and within an enterprise zone, the inspector found that the development would cause substantial harm to the setting of the listed buildings.

In dismissing the company’s challenge to that decision, the Court found that it had been given a fair opportunity to put forward its arguments. The inspector had carried out a proper balancing exercise and it was for him, not the Court, to assess the level of harm to the listed buildings.


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