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No Need to Rule Out Alternatives to Wind Farm

Derbyshire Dales District Council & Peak District National Park Authority v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government & Carsington Wind Energy 
[2009] EWHC 1729 (Admin)

In a judgment delivered on 17 July 2009 Carnwath LJ rejected a challenge, by a local planning authority and a national park authority, to the decision of an Inspector who granted planning permission for development comprising four 102 metre-high wind turbines on land near Carsington Water, Matlock, Derbyshire. The site is located on a hillside above two conservation area villages, near to the boundary of the Peak District National Park.

The court held that, in the absence of any requirement in relevant Development Plan policies for a developer to demonstrate that there were no alternative sites for a proposed development, there was no such requirement either in law or in national policy (in this case, Planning Policy Statement 22 ‘Renewable Energy'). It was, the court found, a question for the Inspector's planning judgement in any given case whether potential alternatives, or a need to rule out the possibility of such alternatives existing, would be a relevant material consideration.

The court also rejected the Claimants' contention that the Inspector had erred in law by taking account of regional renewable energy targets, and the contribution which the proposed wind farm would make towards meeting those targets, in his decision. The Inspector had concluded that the Climate Change Supplement to Planning Policy Statement 1, when read in conjunction with PPS 22, did not preclude him from having regard to regional targets and current progress towards their attainment. The court held that the Inspector "understandably adopted what he regarded as a rational reconciliation of the apparent conflicts in the [national] policy statements".

Jeremy Pike appeared for the Second Defendant, Carsington Wind Energy Ltd (a subsidiary of West Coast Energy), both at the public inquiry, and in the High Court. He was instructed in the High Court litigation by Bond Pearce LLP.