Chance of Hemsby windfarm returns

A LEGAL challenge over a controversial four-turbine windfarm at Hemsby has been submitted to the High Court of Justice in London, it emerged this week.

Peter Warner, head of planning policy at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, confirmed the action by Sea and Land Energy primarily against the secretary of state for communities and local government, and also the borough council as a second defendant.

The four turbine scheme involves agricultural land on the doorstep of Hemsby and Ormesby, close to the Broads, and has been at the centre of controversy for three years over whether it will harm the landscape or help the environment.

The challenge comes just weeks after a government inspector threw out an appeal against borough planners’ refusal of the scheme which they said would dominate the scenic, sensitive landscape – supposedly putting an end to the saga.

Mr Warner said the action was lodged on December 22, but the borough council did not receive notification until January 7.

Sea, Land and Energy is asserting three grounds of claim against the secretary of state and his inspector which revolve around borough council policies and how the inspector used them to come to her decision.

It means residents who thought they had won the turbine battle now face more anxiety awaiting a high court contest and a decision.

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In the event of the appeal decision being quashed by the judge it is understood the case would have to be re-opened with a different inspector and reconsidered in the light of the court’s ruling.

Mr Warner added: “The borough council learned about it early in the new year and recognise that it is principally a claim between Sea and Land Energy and the secretary of state.

“It is a pity they have decided to go down this route giving residents in the parishes more anxiety until the matter is settled in the high court.”

Borough solicitor Chris Skinner said adding to the complexity was a question over whether some national planning policies – which the claimants say were not given due weight – were valid or not.

He said: “They have served the papers and the secretary of state has an opportunity to respond.

“It’s really about legal argument as opposed to evidence.

“The borough will liaise with the treasury solicitor to have an input. If we were to get involved it would be at our cost and it is really unnecessary.”

He estimated the crucial decision would be known in around six months.