HELMDON FACES MORE ANGST OVER TURBINES
Energy company makes further challenge over rejection
By Roseanne Edwards
Residents of Helmdon, Greatworth and neighbouring villages have been thrown into unexpected anxiety about yet another challenge to a High Court ruling against a windfarm on their doorstep.
The villagers thought they had finally won their battle against the ‘mini’ wind farm of five giant turbines – each 125m tall – when High Court judge Mr Justice Cranston dismissed an appeal against refusal of the project.
The plan was first introduced for Spring Farm Ridge between Helmdon and Greatworth over five years ago by Broadview Energy Ltd.
Helmdon, Greatworth and Stutchbury formed an action group chaired by businessman Keith Jones of Helmdon.
“Five-and-half years ago Broadview put in an application for five turbines along Welsh Lane. It was rejected by South Northants Council,” he said.
“Broadview appealed and the inspector’s inquiry found in favour of Broadview. So we and South Northants Council took it to the High Court and the consent was quashed.
“There was a new inquiry but before the result, Secretary of State Eric Pickles called it in. In December 2014 he declared permissions should not be given – and that should have been it.
“However Broadview appealed to the High Court on the basis that the case was prejudiced because our local MP Andrea Leadsom had made efforts on the action group’s behalf and Broadview saw this as being meetings they had been left out of. Judge Cranston dismissed the appeal.
“The action group has spent £250,000 fighting the plan – money donated by people who would have to live with the visual and noise effects of turbines.
“Residents are out of pocket. For Broadview the costs of their challenge can all be written off against tax,” said Mr Jones.
“People thought it was all behind them last Christmas. We will fight to the bitter end,” he said.
Mr Jones said the turbines would be unsightly, noisy and no solution to energy problems.
“They are so costly, so expensive and not reliable. They are one thing in wide open expanses or out in the sea but in our particular landscape where we have small fields they stand out like a sore thumb.”
In a statement after the first High Court defeat Broadview said: “Interestingly, this judgement comes on the day following an announcement by the government to give local people a much great say over wind farm applications in their area.
“We find the Tory fervour over localism with respect to wind farms incredibly hypocritical, given that local people are completely ignored on other planning issues such as HS2.”
Managing director Jeffry Corrigan said: “Broadview has decided to appeal Justice Cranston’s decision as it continues to believe Andrea Leadsom and Kris Hopkins (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the time) breached the Propriety Guidance ministers and MPs are meant to follow with planning decisions such as Spring Farm Ridge. We appreciate Ms Leadsom has a right to make representations on behalf of constituents but they should have been made in accordance with the rules.
“The contribution the Spring Farm Ridge project would make to the UK renewable energy supply, the visual and other impacts have been thoroughly examined by two planning inspectors at two public enquiries and in both cases the inspectors have ruled in favour of the project.
“Broadview believes the decision by Kris Hopkins to overturn the Independent Planning Inspectors decision was biased and unjust”.
Banbury Guardian - 27 August 2015