Treading Wind Farm, Lincolnshire 

This was a recovered decision by the Secretary of State following a lengthy and hard-fought inquiry. Two local planning authorities resisted the appeal in light of the fact that the proposed development straddled the boundaries of each.

Jack Smyth represented South Holland District. It advanced a narrow case based upon a single reason for refusal on the ground that the wind turbines were located so close to a dwelling (“the Birches”) that it would cause an oppressive and overwhelming impact on the residents’ amenity. The Inspector found that the overwhelming visual effects would be so severe as to make the dwelling an unattractive place to live, which would not be in the public interest. The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector’s conclusion. He went on to note that even if the proposed mitigation planting that was proposed could be assured for the lifetime of the scheme, it would not be effective for about 10 years and then would provide only partial screening.

The Secretary of State determined that the effect on living conditions in respect of the Birches and 2 other properties in the other local authority’s patch, alone significantly outweighed the benefits of the proposal and would not be offset by a more general package of benefits to the community.

Interestingly, the Secretary of State noted expressly that he entirely agreed with the Inspector that, where the impact on living conditions is a main concern, it is not right to give a great deal of weight to the factor that any permission would be for 25 years. He also agreed with the Inspector that the proposals conflict with paragraph 17 of the Framework which seeks a good standard of amenity for all existing and future occupants of land and buildings.

It seems likely that this decision will be quoted approvingly by those practitioners seeking to resist wind farm development on the grounds of harm to residential amenity. The Inspector provides a useful discussion and deep analysis of how decision makers ought to approach the issue of what many describe as “Lavender harm”.

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