Wind farm victory for Lyveden New Bield campaigners

Lyveden New Bield
Lyveden New Bield

The Court of Appeal has upheld the previous decision of the High Court to quash a Planning Inspector’s approval for a wind turbine development close to Lyveden New Bield.

Campaigners said turbines would have been harmful to Lyveden’s Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house, lodge and garden in Northamptonshire because of the substantial impact on the setting and significance of these heritage assets of the highest order.

The National Trust, English Heritage and East Northamptonshire Council worked jointly to oppose the appeal brought by Barnwell Manor Wind Energy Ltd.

The development had been approved by the Planning Inspector on appeal after planning permission was initially refused by East Northamptonshire Council.

The result means that the appeal against the original planning decision will need to be considered afresh.

Ward councillor Sylvia Hughes said: “This is a great result for Lyveden New Bield and for the district.

“Whilst we support the development of green energy, it must not be to the detriment of our valuable heritage sites.

“I think that the impact on the landscape is a crucial factor when considering a wind farm site and we know that the Lyveden landscape is highly valued by residents and visitors.”

Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: “We are very pleased that the Court of Appeal has underlined the vital principle of preserving important historic places like Lyveden New Bield – one of the most beautiful and unspoilt Elizabethan landscapes in England.

“We have continued to argue that the original decision by East Northamptonshire Council to refuse the application was absolutely right.

“The subsequent reasoning of the planning inspector did not pay enough attention to the significance of this exotic jewel in the landscape; to allow turbines here would have had an appalling impact on a very special place.

“This judgement reinforces the standards of decision-making that must be applied when balancing the need for sustainable energy alongside the commitment to preserve the most important aspects of the nation’s heritage.”

The National Trust’s director general Helen Ghosh said: “We are committed to renewable energy but it has to work in the landscape.

“The trust aims to source 50 per cent of its energy from renewables, including wind, by 2020, but this shouldn’t be at any cost.

“Our core purpose as a conservation charity means we have a duty to protect beautiful places like Lyveden and each wind proposal should be of a scale and location that works with the special qualities of its setting.”

MP for the area, Andy Sawford, said he was pleased with the ruling.

“The area around Lyveden New Bield is a very special landscape known for its history and nature that people here want to preserve,” he said. “The developers’ plans were inappropriate in this setting and I am pleased that the Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court’s decision.”

Derek Clark, MEP for the East Midlands, said: “This is excellent news – these windfarms are useless, a waste of money and desecrate our countryside.”

Margot Parker, a candidate in the forthcoming European elections who also stood in the Corby and East Northamptonshire by-election, added: “I’m delighted at the news of the failed appeal to build windfarms on the historic site of land adjacent to Lyveden New Bield.

“UKIP is pleased to have been able to lend its support to local residents – it is a victory for local people.”

Timeline of the Lyveden wind turbine battle:

January 2010: West Coast Energy (WCE) applied to build a wind farm on land belonging to the Duke of Gloucester in Sudborough parish, Northamptonshire

January 2011: Planning permission was refused by East Northamptonshire Council. This was later appealed by WCE and in November and December of 2011 a public inquiry was held

March 2012: The appeal was upheld

January 2013: East Northamptonshire Council, along with the National Trust and English Heritage went to the High Court to appeal the planning inspector’s decision to giving permission for the wind farm

March 2013: The High Court overturned the Inspector’s approval

January 2014: West Coast Energy granted permission from the Court of Appeal to contest the High Court decision