This article arrived today courtesy of our good friend Cathy Stafford, of the Action for Planning Transparency group, based in Scotland.
Proving once again that ignorance is industrial wind’s best friend, especially when it rests in a position of power, we find “a farming couple have lost their High Court challenge to plans for a wind farm near their land which they say will blight the landscape, cause noise nuisance, and put their three children at risk.”
According to the article written by the Court correspondent for the UK based Planning Resource journal, the project was initially denied by the South Lakeland District Council, but then permitted by an inspector for former communities minister John Denham. The couple, Rebecca and Brian Barnes, had asked a judge to quash a Government inspector’s decision because the turbines would be set only 105 meters away at its closest boundary. The inspector measured to their house, which is some 600 meters from the nearest turbine. The judge dismissed the potential for ice throw, collapse of the 100 meter plus turbines or failure which would toss blades and other debris well onto the farmer’s property. When the fact that the family’s children played and farm hands worked in the newly created “danger zone”, the judge was unwavering and stated, “”The inspector clearly did have regard to the impact on those working in the fields, although he regarded this as significantly less important than the impact in and around people’s homes. There is nothing to suggest that physical hazards to those in nearby fields was a likely significant effect.” Clearly regarded the impact but significantly less important? Does this judge really value the safety of these folks so little as to write the hazards off as not a “likely significant effect?”
Oh, but there’s more from the genius jurist. When the couple told ‘hizzoner’ that “they were refused vital wind speed data from HJ Banks (the developer) on the grounds that it was “commercially sensitive” and that such data concerned the wind speeds at a height of 60 metres – the hub of the turbines – which would often be much higher than the wind speed close to the ground,” it fell on deaf ears. They stated that “CPCSL was denied the opportunity to test evidence on this so-called “wind shear” and the impact it would have on residents.” The judge decided the failure to disclose the data did not constitute a “procedural irregularity.” Well, it seems to me after reading these proceedings that if anyone knows about “procedural irregularity,” it’s probably deputy judge George Bartlett QC.
So what do Mr. and Mrs. Barnes get for trying to protect their kids and the farm hands? First ol’ Judge (I hate the use the title Justice) Bartlett denies them permission to appeal his well-informed ruling and then orders them to pay £12,500 towards the Government’s legal costs and £2,500 towards HJ Bank’s costs.
The driving factor that swayed the Judge, by the way, was this, “The inspector’s overall conclusion was that the benefits of the proposal – ‘a considerable quantity of electricity from a renewable source,’ as he put it – outweighed the adverse impact. He cannot be said to have left out of account any material consideration.” That statement in itself qualifies the judge and the inspector for starring roles in the sequel to “Dumb and Dumber.”
And irony of ironies, look at the US web presentation of the article and note the rather prevalent advertisement on the right. Cool, huh?