I am one of some 100 local residents living near the Severn Estuary in the Forest of Dean, who are concerned about the proliferation of single wind turbines being installed in the Severn Estuary, damaging the lovely rural landscape.
Save the Severn Estuary from the developers
I am one of some 100 local residents living near the Severn Estuary in the Forest of Dean, who are concerned about the proliferation of single wind turbines being installed in the Severn Estuary, damaging the lovely rural landscape. Whilst I, and many others, accept the benefits of wind turbines in the right place, a series of single turbines, backed by the same developer, all within the same rural setting, is totally unjustified. It is creating a wind farm landscape by stealth.
We also observe that the Severn Estuary is a sensitive animal and bird breeding area. (See e.g. Wikipedia entry on the Severn Estuary, section on Conservation and SSSI status; and the Severn Estuary Partnership website.)
Protecting the Severn Estuary
For over 2000 years, the Severn Estuary has been a rural landscape and natural habitat for wildlife. 2 single wind turbines have been granted planning permission and at least 5 additional single wind turbines are seeking planning permission within a 10 mile stretch of the estuary all supported by the same developer, the Resilience Centre.
In the present case, the planning applicant's wife, Councillor Maria Edwards, was elected to the Council and appointed to the planning committee whilst the planning application was under consideration.
A clear majority of the affected local community are now firmly opposed to this development. In accordance with the Planning Practice Guidance, the community’s valid planning objections should have been taken into account and the Council should have rejected the Severndale application as the developer was not able to address the objections. Instead, the councillors placed undue weight and consideration to unspecified 'community benefits' (financed by the proceeds of the turbine).
The Senior Planning Case Officer on two occasions advised the Planning Committee that they should not take into account these ‘community benefits’ and should refuse planning permission, but the Councillors ignored this completely in reaching their decision citing the 'community benefits' as one of the main reasons for granting planning permission. Financial considerations which are not linked to the proposed development should be ignored in determining planning applications in accordance with law and government guidelines, as to take them into account would allow applicants to effectively ‘buy’ a planning permission. I have therefore applied to the High Court to judicially review this decision and to quash it to prevent further unjustifiable damage being inflicted on the landscape as a result of this decision.
A short timeline of my case
- Planning application submitted in March 2015.
- Local residents were notified of the planning application in late April 2015 with response required by end of May. The applicant submitted additional information in June 2015 following receipt of objections from statutory consultees, the Council’s officers, the Parish Council and local residents who opposed the scheme for a wide variety of reasons including harm to wildlife, the landscape and the setting of a number of heritage assets.
- The application was due to be considered by the planning committee in July 2015, but due to last minute submissions by the applicant following receipt of the planning officer’s report which recommended refusing planning permission, consideration of the application was postponed to September.
- The applicant then realised that they might miss the deadline to guarantee the higher rate Feed in Tariff and for this reason alone asked for the application to be heard in August. Despite protests from Peter Wright and others, the FODDC Planning Manager agreed to this expedition. Critically the Planning Officer who had recommended it be refused was then on holiday so could not attend this meeting.
- On 11th August, contrary to the advice of the Planning Officer and contrary to the objections of the Parish Council and the majority of local residents, the councillors decided to grant planning permission to the proposal.
- The local residents then asked the Secretary of State to “call in” the application and make a decision himself in mid-August. After some 5 weeks, on 29th September 2015 the Secretary of State decided not to call in the application for his own determination and the application was formally granted planning permission by the Council on 30th September 2015 – the very last date on which a developer could apply to secure the current higher Feed in tariffs.
I only had 6 weeks from this date to file an application for a Judicial review in the High Court to try and quash this improper decision. The application for judicial review was filed on 11 November 2015.
Why should people help?
The Planning Application was approved in clear conflict with the law regarding financial considerations being taken into account when considering planning applications, contrary to the recently implemented amendments to the Planning Practice Guidance on wind turbines which give the local community the ‘final say’ and contrary to Government Guidance regarding the weight to be attached to purported community benefits.
The Councillors in this case appear to have allowed themselves, in making their decision, to be unduly influenced by the developer’s promise to finance community benefits and may do so again in other cases unless I act now. They have effectively allowed the developer to buy this planning permission and they must not be allowed to buy further developments.
If successful, this challenge will ensure that no other Council can act with such impunity in the face of the overwhelming views of the local community and in breach of planning guidelines regarding alleged community benefits.In the Forest of Dean, there are at least 5 similar planning applications pending consideration and no doubt potentially hundreds across the UK. If I am successful, clear guidance will be available for other local communities to ensure that their Councils act fairly, with due regard to their constituents’ views.
Comparison of wind turbine to height of homes and other buildings
What am I raising and what is it for?
I have instructed Susan Ring and Harry Campbell of Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law and Zack Simons of Landmark Chambers to apply to the High Court to judicially review and hopefully quash the decision to grant planning permission.The costs of the Judicial Review will be in the order of £25k-£30k + VAT. I am raising £10k to begin with but I need to raise approximately £15k-£20K in total to ensure I have sufficient funding to instruct Counsel and cover the likely costs to enable me to proceed.
About the claimant
Peter Wright is one of some 100 local residents living near the Severn Estuary in the Forest of Dean, who by a clear majority of the local community have consistently opposed this scheme. Whilst Wind Turbines in the right place in the Estuary are acceptable, e.g. local ports and industrial sites; a series of single turbines all backed by the same developer is totally unacceptable
## Name of case Severndale Wind Turbine Judicial Review - Peter Wright v. Forest of Dean District Council ## What’s at stake I am seeking to overturn the Council’s Planning Approval for this and other pending Single Wind Turbine Planning Applications, which will potentially destroy the beautiful rural landscape of the Severn Estuary and turn it into an industrial wind turbine alley. The Planning Application was approved in clear conflict with recent UK Government Guidelines on wind turbines and existing planning guidelines regarding the weight to be attached to community benefits. The Councillors appear to have allowed undue influence to non-planning matters in reaching their decision and may do so again in other cases unless I act now. ## What’s the next step To apply to the High Court for a Judicial Review within the next few weeks. ## My legal representatives I am working with Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law, and Landmark Chambers.
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