Campaigners lose legal fight against controversial Princes Gate turbines plan
Updated 11:21am Tuesday 11th March 2014 in News
The controversial proposal for south Pembrokeshire’s tallest wind turbines looks set to be going ahead after the failure of the latest legal challenge by objectors.
In May, Pembrokeshire County Council approved the plan by Princes Gate Spring Water for a pair of 86.5m high, 800kw turbines, which led protestors to apply for a judicial review against the decision.
However, the council’s handling of the application for land at Middleton Top, near Ludchurch, has now been backed by a High Court judge who has dismissed the claim.
The ruling - with no leave to appeal - has left local residents ‘devastated’, said Mary Sinclair, chairman of the Pembrokeshire branch for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW).
She said that homes only 400m from the site will have direct views of the turbines, and the future of the Belle Vue Equestrian Centre - whose horses have enjoyed national and international success - would be in jeopardy.
Added Mrs Sinclair: “Residents had previously supported Princes Gate Spring Water and their investment in renewable energy, and requested that they locate their turbines on ground they own, adjacent to their water-bottling plant.
“The only response from the planners was to pretend that residents wanted the turbines in the factory car park.”
The problems caused to horses by moving shadows from turbine blades had been highlighted by the turbine developers, said Mrs Sinclair.
“Yet the planning authority has set no condition to protect the centre, nor was any background noise monitoring undertaken there, nor at any other home directly affected by the development.”
The judicial review challenge had been mounted by the objectors on two grounds.
They claimed that the officer’s report to the committee was flawed, as it did not find the proposal contrary to the Local Development Plan (LDP).
They also claimed that the Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Opinion was defective.
The High Court hearing took place in Cardiff, where Judge Hickenbottom dismissed both grounds. He noted that in assessing the potential impact on the historic environment, the committee report had been prepared with ‘patent care’ and that it weighed and balanced the competing policies within the LDP.
He ordered costs in favour of the council.
The authority’s planning committee agreed to the development last year on the basis that the benefits of terms of the contribution to the generation of renewable energy outweighed any adverse impacts.
This was the second time that the proposal had been given the go-ahead by the committee. In November 2012, residents threatened a judicial review, and in February 2013, the plan was quashed after the council decided not to contest the challenge.
Princes Gate Spring Water plans to use the energy generated by the turbines to help power its new, state-of-the-art bottle blowing plant.
Operations director, Endaf Edwards, said on Monday that the company did not want to comment at the moment, as they felt that the matter was between the objectors and Pembrokeshire County Council.
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