Case Law >> Victory for wind industry?

12th October 2012

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Renewable ,
  • Construction



Hayley Tam and Colleen Theron from LexisPSL examine a recent Scottish appeal that rules the benefits of wind farms can outweigh their impacts

In September 2011, Dumfries and Galloway Council refused a planning application for a wind farm 7km northeast of Glenluce, which would cover 524 hectares of moorland.

The proposed 11 turbines would have a maximum height, including blades, of 126.5m and the site would also contain connecting tracks, a substation and an obstruction compound.

The council refused the application on the basis that it would have adverse landscape and visual impacts; impact negatively on the historic environment, particularly on scheduled monuments; and be detrimental to the safety of aircraft.

The scheme’s developers, wind energy company RES UK and Ireland, appealed the decision and their case turned on whether any adverse impacts would be outweighed by the benefits of the scheme.

In July, the directorate for planning and environment appeals in Scotland allowed the appeal and granted planning permission. Janet McNair, the reporter appointed by Scottish ministers, found that:

  • the wind farm would have a substantial, but localised, impact on the landscape character of the landscape character type (LCT);
  • visibility impacts on other LCTs would be confined to specific areas;
  • no designated landscapes or settlements would be significantly affected, and very few residents would have close or direct views;
  • cumulative impacts were acceptable – although there were a number of existing, approved and proposed wind farms in that part of Scotland, this project would not cause landscape capacity to be exceeded;
  • the proposal would have some adverse archaeological impacts, however, these did not justify refusing permission;
  • the proposal would not make the area less attractive for tourism or recreation; and
  • the proposal’s local economic benefits would be modest.

McNair allowed the appeal on the basis that the scheme’s contribution to the generation of renewable energy outweighed its adverse impact, taking into account the Scottish government’s commitment to increasing the generation of renewable energy. She also noted that the scheme would contribute to meeting UK targets.

Scottish planning policy states the landscape and visual impacts of wind farms should be minimised. However, McNair declared it is unrealistic to expect a wind farm to be developed without significant impacts and that such impacts are not necessarily unacceptable.

The impacts have to be weighed against the benefits of the scheme in deciding where the balance of advantage lies.


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