Legal / Procedural Challenges
Llangeitho (Caerllugest Farm)
Despite the bad news that a second turbine has now been approved in the area of Llangeitho, there is some good news to report regarding the first turbine to be approved there. This machine was erected some 38 M from the approved site, putting it closer to the property of at least one objector, and further from the property of the landowner. It is clearly against planning law to secure approval for a structure at a certain, pinpointed location and then build it elsewhere. However, for a while it seemed as if the developer and landowner might get away with it, by means of a retrospective application, which they then submitted in an attempt to gain permission for the machine at its new, and unlawful, location. Only the tireless work of people living close to the wrongly sited machine prevented this from succeeding. Here's the full story:
A small victory: Llangeitho turbine in ignominious retreat
The turbine installed and maintained by Aeolus Power and owned by Wefit Wind was built above the Aeron Valley, Ceredigion, without planning consent in Autumn 2012. Three years after it began operation and six months after a retrospective planning application was withdrawn work has begun to relocate the turbine to its `approved` location. Neighbours who proved the turbine was built in the wrong location have battled ceaselessly for the Developer and Owners to be held to account. Whether by simple error or deliberate act the reason why the contractors erected the turbine in the wrong location without consent will probably never be made known. However the relocation of the turbine represents a small victory against developers who seek to erect inappropriate turbines without regard for the environment and local opinion.
LAND AT WERN, PENCADER SA39 9AL
The two Planning Permissions the council has granted Seren Energy at this site are for the installation of a wind turbine of up to 67 metres (to blade tip) on a field on the northern slope of a hillside, 1.6 kilometres from Pencader.
Why two Planning Permissions?
The answer to this lies in a long and hard fought battle, in which an objector to the initial permission for this machine (granted on 3 Sept 2014) managed to secure a Judicial Review of the Approval decision on 4 separate grounds. However, before the matter could come before a judge, to decide the validity of these grounds, Seren Energy submitted a second, identical planning application. It seems clear that this was done on the basis that the new application, bearing a different Application Number would not - technically - be the subject of a JR, and could therefore be freely decided by CCC.
This second Application was fast-tracked through Planning and, despite some Councillor's misgivings regarding the legality of debating the second application, the Council made a further decision - on 13 January 2015 - to grant permission, whilst still defending the original planning permission.
The objector then lodged judicial review proceedings challenging that second decision on 23 February 2015, and it was ultimately permitted to be part of a two-day rolled-up hearing, alongside the hearing of the first judicial review.
Sadly, on 5 August 2015, when the case finally came before The Hon Mr Justice Cranston, he dismissed the claim for judicial review of the Council’s first grant of planning permission, except to instruct a small amendment to part of the wording of the Approval document. He also stated that the grounds challenging the second planning permission were not arguable.
It would be wrong, however, to view this as a total defeat for the hard won Judicial Review(s) - or to regard the basis on which they were initially applied for as flawed. The fact that they were granted for hearing in the first place is a major achievement because, for this to have occurred, the judge needed to be convinced there were valid grounds to proceed. Sadly, some of those grounds then became less valid, and overtaken by events, with Seren working hard in the background to overcome issues known to be under review. Key among these were parts of the Transport Plan, and issues with the proposed delivery route, which was then changed to circumvent problems of ownership of part of the land potentially affected by the original route
It is of little consolation to the residents of Wern, and in particular the objector who was brave enough to take this to judicial review in the first place, at considerable financial risk to himself, but there are lessons that can be learned from the outcome of this, which may help future legal challenges. We hope to bring you a more detailed list of these in the near future - to be posted on our site under Hot Topics.
Meantime, for the full story of the Wern Turbine, please visit this site: No Wern Turbine