Villager searching for justice over turbines

FIGHT FOR SOUTH NORTHANTS: Are the days of this landscape numbered?. 120912M-A538
FIGHT FOR SOUTH NORTHANTS: Are the days of this landscape numbered?. 120912M-A538

The fight to protect the character and landscape of south Northants is about to be taken to the second highest appeal court in the land.

Greatworth resident and former magistrate Veronica Ward is a co-claimant along with South Northants Council in a High Court challenge against plans by Broadview Energy to build five 125m wind turbines between the villages of Helmdon, Stuchbury and Greatworth.

After hearing a week of evidence planning inspector Elizabeth Fieldhouse upheld an appeal by Broadview in July, reversing an early decision by SNC to refuse planning permission for the Spring Farm Ridge site, just off the B4525 Welsh Lane.

Mrs Ward said not only do the proposals represent a threat to the landscape, and are a waste of public money, but they were also creating divisions within the community between land owners and other residents.

She said: “I cannot accept it is just that industrial sized turbines, which the inspector describes as unpleasant, imposing and pervasive, can be built 750m from a small working farm. They are going to be absolutely everywhere, all the time.”

Mrs Ward said it was common sense that being in the middle of the country, Northants would be one of the least windy regions, and believes approval of the Spring Farm Ridge plans would set a precedent for the rest of the district. She added: “We have to fight for south Northants. If this goes ahead the district will be carpeted with turbines.”

Mrs Ward said they would now be fundraising to ensure court costs are covered should they lose the challenge.

In a statement councillor Stephen Clarke, chairman of SNC planning committee, said wind energy was important but it should not have a negative impact on the community or the countryside, and that their view was the inspector disregarded policies which protect heritage in favour of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which promotes renewables. He added: “We believe the inspector did not follow the provision of the law when considering the balance between heritage and 
renewable energy, and failed to have ‘special regard’ for the desirability of preserving the listed buildings and conservation areas which the law requires. Instead only the provisions of the NPPF were applied.”

Broadview’s managing director Jeffrey Corrigan said the inquiry found the site was suitable and added: “Mrs Ward and the council are now challenging the decision on points of law. Whilst we are confident of the outcome, the challenge will create delays and uncertainty along with significant costs for all parties.”