National Wind Power (NWP), the company which had planned to build the wind farm, claims the case has highlighted the planning issues surrounding such installations.

NWP had challenged Environment Minister Michael Meacher in the High Court after he backed Teesdale District Council’s refusal of consent to the wind farm in Yorkshire. The company claimed Meacher had not taken into account the energy contribution from the wind farm.

NWP believes the High Court case has raised the profile of planning issues surrounding the development of wind farms in the UK. “Since the public inquiry at which High Moor wind farm was refused consent, successive statements by planning minister Richard Caborn and by Michael Meacher have addressed issues raised by the High Moor decision, and have stated categorically the need for renewables including wind,” NWP said in a statement.

NWP says the High Court was not able to address the planning merits of the proposed wind farm, but could only examine the legal validity of the decision making process. “NWP is disappointed that the High Court has not quashed the decision to refuse planning consent, but given the limited scope for intervention by the High Court NWP is not surprised by the decision,” the company said.

The company drew comfort from the fact that the High Court judgement distanced itself from the Planning Inspector’s conclusion that the clean energy benefits of the proposal would be “insignificant”.

Michael Meacher has indicated that government planning policy is taking a more positive view of renewable energy schemes since the High Moor public inquiry in June 1998. Speaking earlier this year he said: “Renewables schemes are by their nature smaller than conventional power stations. But we must not fall into the trap of dismissing them on the grounds that an individual scheme can only supply a tiny fraction of UK energy needs.”

Further evidence of this came recently when the UK Government, in its response to a House of Lord’s Select Committee report, stated that: “substantial contributions [to renewable energy generation] from both onshore and offshore wind energy will be needed and this implies a significant increase in growth rate.”

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