United Kingdom
Evidence, Licences, Wetlands, Air pollution, Biodiversity, Contract, Permits, Criminal, Property, Liability
The present case is a challenge to the decision of the Planning Inspectorate to allow the development of a 10-turbine wind farm in the heart of the mid Devonshire countryside, challenge is directed towards the noise and nine further grounds are also to be pursued. One of the grounds, which was contested by RES, was the argument that the wording of the conditions was so defective as to make them "useless for our protection". For the past 6 years Mr Hulme had quizzed developer, Renewable Energy Systems (RES), over issues concerning potential noise impacts from the proposed wind turbines. As a consequence, a number of significant changes have been made to the developer’s assessments, but the levels of potential noise pollution remained in dispute. RES continued to claim that there will be “no noise nuisance” from the Den Brook wind farm development, and that conditions to control excessive noise are unnecessary. On the other hand, evidence from DBJRG’s noise experts, following detailed analysis of RES’ own long-term wind speed data, convinced the Planning Inspector that a noise condition to control excessive noise was both “reasonable and necessary". The High Court examined for the first time the effectiveness of conditions designed to address the phenomenon of amplitude modulation, an aerodynamic noise characteristic of turbine blades that is capable of causing disturbance to nearby residents. Deputy Judge Patterson held that the conditions, which required local authority approval of a scheme before the turbines could generate power to the grid, were valid and enforceable. Although the conditions did not spell out exactly what the scheme was to achieve, they had to be read and applied in the context of the decision letter as a whole which made the inspector’s intentions clear. The Judge ruled that RES had been "thorough and responsible" in its development and design and had worked hard to minimise any potential impact. The Judge also dismissed a complaint that the inspector, in dealing with the possibility of disturbance to roosting bats, had failed to “engage with” Article 12 of the Habitats Directive.