If a wind farm could have had a different design with reduced noise impact should planning consent have been refused?

The answer was no in a recent High Court case where a planning decision was challenged on various counts relating to the noise impact on surrounding properties, including a fort and listed chapel.

Planning Policy statement 22 sets out the Government's policies for renewable energy, to which planning authorities should refer when taking planning decisions. It includes the principle that:

"Development proposals should demonstrate any environmental, economic and social benefits as well as how any environmental and social impacts have been minimised through careful consideration of location, scale, design and other measures."

In this case it was decided that the planning officer had duly taken account of noise impact and how it could be minimised, and there was no basis for a proposal to be refused because an alternative design would have had less noise implications.