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Barsham wind turbine opponents will have to continue fight in the courts, minister says

PUBLISHED: 16:59 03 September 2014 | UPDATED: 16:59 03 September 2014

Waveney MP Peter Aldous.
February 2014.

Picture: James Bass

Waveney MP Peter Aldous. February 2014. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

Opponents to a Barsham wind turbine will have to continue fight their case in the courts, a minister said yesterday amid calls by a local MP to quash the decision to give it the green light.

Local government minister Stephen Williams, who refused to be drawn on the merits of the 125m turbine, which could be built near Beccles, said the decision of a planning inspector was final, claiming it was a “quasi judicial” process and he was unable to comment on the merits of the case.

An application for the scheme was turned down by a planning committee, but was given the green light after an appeal by developers.

It is now being challenged in the high court by members of the local community opposed to the turbine.

The comments were made in a Westminster debate secured by Waveney MP Peter Aldous who said that the concerns of the community had not been listened to, urging cabinet minister Eric Pickles to consider the case under his power to look at a planning decision himself.

Mr Williams said: “I understand local frustration when a planning inspector gives the go-ahead for a locally opposed proposal. The inspector’s decision, however, is made on behalf of the secretary of state, and in that sense the decision is final unless it is challenged in the High Court.”

Challenged on why Mr Pickles had not used his power to overturn the planning inspector’s decision by Mr Aldous, Mr Williams said: “The secretary of state has a variety of tools at his disposal under planning law, including the ability to recover appeals and make the decision in person, but that decision is still based on advice from officials in accordance with the council’s local plan, the national planning policy framework and existing planning law and casework.”

But while Mr Williams would not give an overall assurance that the decision would be quashed, he said that he would take Mr Aldous’ concerns to Mr Pickles.

Mr Aldous said; “The renewable energy industry needs to have confidence in the system so that it can make investment decisions with a degree of certainty. Local communities need to know that they will be given a fair hearing. They need to know that their views will be properly considered and not ridden over roughshod, as I fear has been the case at Barsham.”

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