On 28th February the High Court considered RWE NPower Renewables Ltd’s judicial review of Milton Keynes Council’s recently adopted Supplementary Planning Document addressing wind energy developments in the Borough. The SPD requires that wind turbines be sited set distances away from residential property according to the height of the turbine, unless all those living within the separation distance agree to waive the requirement. By way of example, a turbine measuring 100m to the vertical tip of the blade would have to be sited at least 1,000m from the nearest residential property. The distance increases or decreases according to turbine height. The SPD also stipulates other fixed separation distances from, e.g., bridleways.

RWE NPower Renewables Ltd, supported by Ecotricity, complains that the SPD will effectively sterilise the Borough of Milton Keynes for further commercial wind energy development. It says that the adoption of the SPD was unlawful as it conflicts with the statutory development plan, that Milton Keynes Council had no proper regard to national policy and guidance and that the adopted policy could only lawfully have progressed if treated as a DPD and subjected to examination in public. Milton Keynes Council resists the challenge. It denies any conflict with the development plan and says that the SPD merely elaborates upon the Local Plan.

A number of other English local authorities are considering adopting similar policy and the outcome of the challenge is likely to have ramifications beyond Milton Keynes.