English Heritage launches wind turbines legal challenge

English Heritage and the National Trust have launched a rare legal challenge to a scheme to install four large wind turbines near a “treasured” Elizabethan garden.

The two heritage bodies have joined East Northamptonshire Council, which originally refused planning permission for the 127-metre high turbines close to Lyveden New Bield, to oppose the planned wind farm.

They fear the turbines will be visible from virtually everywhere on the property, affecting the appreciation of one of England’s oldest garden landscapes, and the go-ahead for development could set a precedent for other heritage sites.

Last month the planning inspector backed an appeal by an energy company to let it install the turbines near the Grade I-listed heritage site, which is made up of an unfinished 17th century lodge and gardens, despite acknowledging it was “probably the finest surviving example of an Elizabethan garden”.

He also accepted that Lyveden New Bield had a “cultural value of national, if not international significance”.

But while he said the turbines would be a “distraction” which would harm the heritage site, he ruled the damage would not be substantial and was outweighed by the benefits of the scheme in meeting wider renewable energy targets.

The National Trust argued that the turbines would be prominent, modern and intrusive structures in a landscape which still evoked the site’s historic Rockingham Forest surroundings.

The decision also undermined protection for heritage around the country, the trust warned.

The trust, English Heritage and the local authority said they had started legal proceedings under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, in a bid to get the courts to examine the way in which the planning inspector made his decision.