Communities Secretary rejects wind farm appeal

Communities Secretary Greg Clark has overruled the recommendations of the Planning Inspector and dismissed an appeal to build two wind turbines at a farm in Staffordshire.

In his report, the Planning Inspector recommended that the appeal by Hallmark Power be upheld and planning permission granted for the 250KW wind turbines, but in a decision letter published on 22 October, the Secretary of State rejected his conclusions and cited the Government’s tough new rules around wind farms, which were introduced in June.

Quoting the Secretary of State’s written ministerial statement from June, the letter states local authorities can only approve wind farms if “they are satisfied it has addressed the planning impacts identified by affected local communities and therefore has their backing”.

Stafford Borough Council rejected the original application by Hallmark Power in 2013, which led to the subsequent appeal, which was then called in by the Communities Secretary.

In the decision letter, the Secretary of State agrees with the Planning Inspector that the visual impact of the proposed turbines would not harm the living conditions of nearby residents and the noise of the turbines would not have an “unacceptable impact on local residents”. 

“Having weighed up all relevant considerations, the Secretary of State concludes that the factors, which weigh in favour of the proposed development do not outweigh its shortcomings and the conflict identified with national policy,” the letter concludes.

“He considers that there are material considerations of sufficient weight, which would indicate that the appeal should be dismissed.” 

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues