Powys County Council Backs Down In Wind Turbine Court Battle

Judicial Review Success As Lawyers Help Local Campaigners Challenge Upper Pengarth Development


Legal experts have helped Powys campaigners, concerned by the impact that a proposed wind turbine could have on the landscape and the local economy, to successfully challenge a council decision to give the development the go-ahead.

Powys County Council originally approved the plans for a 40-metre high wind turbine to be erected in Upper Pengarth in the Radnor Hills – which are renowned for their undeveloped landscape.

However, the decision has been challenged by local campaigner Graham Williams, 70, who runs a horse-riding holiday business Free Rein in the area, after he warned of the potentially damaging impact that the construction of the turbine would have on the local landscape and economy.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law team helped Mr Williams to successfully challenge the decision in a judicial review at the High Court in Cardiff, arguing against the plans on grounds including that the council failed to properly consider the development in conjunction with applications for other turbines to be installed nearby.

First proposed in October 2013, the plans for the construction of the new wind turbine were subsequently given planning permission by Powys County Council in December 2013.

Discussing his concerns regarding the plans, Mr Williams said: “People who come to the Radnor Hills do so because they are undeveloped and the scenery is world class. They see these turbines as intrusions in a landscape described by Landmap as “Outstanding” which will put them off coming.

“We are just one of dozens of very small businesses here in the hills which depend almost solely on the quality of the landscape. Our riders come here to ride trails of 2 to 7 days in duration, staying each night at farms, inns and hotels along their chosen trails where they spend, annually, around £120,000.”

Irwin Mitchell argued that the council had not fully considered several key factors in making its decision, including the terms of its own Unitary Development Plan, which states windfarm applications will only be approved where “they do not unacceptably affect the environmental and landscape quality” of the area – either on their own or in combination with other developments.

In addition, although Natural Resources Wales – the country’s environmental agency – had not objected to the plans, the body had assumed there were no other applications nearby and had written to the council regarding specific concerns regarding the impact on the landscape.

Before the issues were considered by a judge, the council accepted proper consideration may not have been given to the policy and agreed to a quashing order from the court.