A blow for wind power?
A LEGAL battle over a proposed wind turbine in the Forest could have major implications for similar projects across England.
The scheme for a 500-kilowatt ‘community energy project’ at Severndale Farm at Stroat, which was given the go-ahead by the Forest Council last summer, is now subject to judicial review.
The action has been brought by Mr Peter Wright who lives close to the proposed site of the turbine which would be 87-metres tall at the tip of the blade.
He says he and many of his neighbours are concerned about a series of single wind turbines being created along the Severn estuary.
A High Court hearing is due to take place next month at which a key argument will be about the ‘community benefits’ that such developments bring to an area.
But supporters of community turbines are concerned that if the court backs Mr Wright it could make it more difficult for the public to get involved in backing renewable energy projects.
Both sides agree the judgement will set a clear legal precedent for determining applications for turbine.
Each has used “crowd-funding” websites to raise money to meet the cost of legal advice.
In a statement on
the website www.crowd
justice.co.uk, Mr Wright said: “I am one of some 100 local residents living near the Severn Estuary in the Forest of Dean, who are concerned about the proliferation of single wind turbines being installed in the Severn Estuary, damaging the lovely rural landscape.
“Whilst I, and many others, accept the benefits of wind turbines in the right place, a series of single turbines, backed by the same developer, all within the same rural setting, is totally unjustified.
“It is creating a wind farm landscape by stealth.
“If successful, this challenge will ensure that no other council can act with such impunity in the face of the overwhelming views of the local community and in breach of planning guidelines regarding alleged community benefits.”
The Woolaston-based Resilience Centre, which is developing the Severndale turbine has used the website www.crowd
funder.co.uk to raise support.
In a statement on the site it says: “The judgement that will arise from this case is very likely to be important in establishing case law and clear guidelines on what can be offered in the way of community participation and what can be taken as positive community benefits by councillors when making a decision.
“The threat to the community energy sector is that a ruling could emerge which places additional constraints on the ability of the public to participate in renewable energy generation or renders the sector even more uncertain that promoters, public and decision makers are all deterred from participating in or supporting the sector.
“A succesful outcome would establish a key new legal precedent for the community energy sector in the UK, allowing planning authorities to give clear positive weight to projects with overriding local community benefits.”
The case is due to be heard by a judge on Thursday, April 21.
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