23rd Jul 2014
Duddo Stones June 2014
PRESS RELEASE FROM PENMAR FARMING LIMITED
26 JUNE 2014
Campaigners against a wind farm development which would overshadow the Duddo Stone Circle are celebrating an important victory. The ancient Stones have once again worked their magic to convince the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles MP, that the appeal decision to allow a 74m wind turbine at Shoreswood Farm, which it was acknowledged would damage the setting of the monument, was defective.
With the support of people across Northumberland and the Borders, Penmar Farming Limited, the owner of the Duddo Stones, had issued a statutory appeal in the High Court challenging the legality of the decision by a planning inspector to overturn the refusal of the scheme by Northumberland County Council. The Council’s planning committee had followed the advice of officers and heritage experts in unanimously refusing planning permission for the proposed turbine.
Clare Dakin, of Penmar Farming, explained that they had received legal advice that they had a strong case and had raised 5 grounds upon which the appeal decision should be quashed. The court proceedings had been served on the Minister, the Council and the applicant. It was open to the Minister to agree to the claim requesting that the Inspector's decision be quashed by reason of it having been made erroneously. If this could be agreed before the case went to trial there would be a substantial saving in legal costs for whoever was the eventual loser of the case.
The proliferation of wind farms, as well as large farm turbines, in the Northumbrian landscape is causing concern in the corridors of power. The issue was raised at a recent meeting with government ministers when a cross party delegation from the House of Lords led by Baroness Joyce Quin met with Kris Hopkins, the junior minister responsible for monitoring wind farm development on behalf of Eric Pickles, to voice their dismay at the damage being done to Northumberland’s iconic tourist landscapes.
As a regular visitor to the Stones, Joyce Quin was horrified at the prospect of a large wind turbine dominating the setting and approach to the monument and she raised the issue of Duddo in the meeting and undertook to write to the Minister with details. She subsequently did so, along with Viscount Ridley, to request that the Minister intervene and agree to the Claim.
"It has been a nerve-wracking time", said Clare Dakin. "The costs implications of taking this action were very daunting but we felt we could not stand by and watch the turbine being built without challenging what we knew to be a bad decision. A number of local people felt so strongly about this that they pledged to help underwrite the legal costs if the case did not go our way, and so we decided to take the plunge."
The case was due to be heard on 25 June, but, having received the Claimant’s skeleton argument, the Treasury Solicitor made contact with Penmar's lawyers on 9 June to say that he was instructed to agree the claim. This was on the basis of one of the grounds which they felt could not be contested, namely that the Inspector had failed, in considering the appeal, to give "great weight" to the conservation of designated heritage assets and to the fact that any harm to such assets "should require clear and convincing justification".
"We will continue to fight this proposal for as long as we have to", said Clare Dakin. “The people of Northumberland care passionately about these ancient stones and we will continue to fight for the right of local people and visitors who come from all over the UK and the world to continue to enjoy them in their extraordinary landscape setting.”
Joyce Quin added: “I am delighted that Ministers responded to our concerns and hope that this decision will herald a much needed change in policy so that Northumberland’s wonderful landscape, so important to residents and tourists alike, is protected against these intrusive and harmful windfarm developments”.
For more information contact Clare Dakin: 07711 710436 - email@example.com
Joyce Quin: 07802 709823 - firstname.lastname@example.org