The High Court held that a planning inspector had not erred in his decision to grant planning permission, on appeal, for a wind farm in Cumbria. The claimant, who resided within 600 metres of the nearest turbine, made an application to quash the inspector’s decision under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 on the grounds that:

  1.  the inspector failed to impose a condition limiting the size of the turbines;
  2. the inspector withheld information material to their objection;
  3. noise conditions imposed by the inspector were invalid;
  4. ETSU report recommendations were not followed in assessing noise;
  5. his conclusion failed to take a relevant factor into account; and
  6. safety issues were not addressed.

All six grounds failed and the application was refused. However, the judgment highlights potential challenges to planning decisions and the need for well-drafted conditions.

In the present case, the noise conditions were held to be valid despite that parameters to measure compliance were insufficiently defined. The High Court held that, while definite parameters were desirable, conditions must be interpreted benevolently when determining their validity, and given effect if possible. In the present case, the conditions could be applied by taking a reasonable view as to the parameters that should be used.

The judge added that, for wind farm developments, the lack of generic noise conditions contained in national planning guidance was unfortunate and the scope for inconsistency as a result of appeal decisions “obviously undesirable”.

The claimant may appeal the decision.