Hefty bill after Hethel turbine defeat
South Norfolk Council is facing a hefty bill in the wake of its legal defeat against campaigners battling to stop a wind farm.Court of Appeal judges last week ordered the district council to pay up to �30,000 in legal costs, following a ruling last month which quashed a planning decision by the authority to approve an application for three turbines at the Lotus car factory at Hethel.
South Norfolk Council is facing a hefty bill in the wake of its legal defeat against campaigners battling to stop a wind farm.
Court of Appeal judges last week ordered the district council to pay up to �30,000 in legal costs, following a ruling last month which quashed a planning decision by the authority to approve an application for three turbines at the Lotus car factory at Hethel.
Three judges had allowed an appeal by the campaign group, The Friends of Hethel, against a High Court ruling last November dismissing their case.
In his written judgment, Lord Justice Sullivan, one of the country's most senior property law judges, said that the council had wrongly failed to consult English Heritage as it was required to do for a proposal potentially affecting the setting of a grade I or II listed building. He said that consultation with English Heritage could change the result when the matter is reconsidered.
The wind farm proposal was initially refused by the council on the basis of the visual impact it would have on the landscape and the effect it would have on air defence radar.
However, after the Ministry of Defence withdrew its radar objection, energy firm Ecotricity - which said that the turbines it intends to install are the quietest production turbines in the world - successfully reapplied for planning permission in March 2008.
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The Friends of Hethel claimed that the wind farm will damage the setting of listed buildings in the area, including the Church at Wreningham.
Welcoming the ruling, Colin Rudd, chairman of Bracon Ash and Hethel Parish Council, said: 'It justifies our position that we felt the decision was incorrect. We really do believe that Lotus have got some exciting plans for their site which can be good for the economy, but we feel there are better and greener ways in which they can power their plant.'
John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk District Council, said: 'Obviously we are disappointed, but wind turbines raise strong passions on either side. The key is to try to steer a neutral course neither for or against.'
'The effect of the judges' decision is that the planning application is now live again, and subject to an appeal being lodged, will be determined by the planning committee in due course.'
After publishing their ruling, the judges also ordered the council to pay all of the Friends of Hethel's legal costs for the appeal, as well as 80pc of their costs of the High Court hearing.