Plans to construct a wind turbine over-shadowing the 4000-year-old Duddo Stone Circle have been blocked by a Government minister.
The ancient Stones have 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 was defective.
Baroness Joyce Quin, who led a cross-party campaign against the turbine being built, said: “I am delighted that the minister responded to our concerns and hope that this decision will herald a change of approach so that Northumberland’s precious landscape, which is so important to residents and tourists alike, is safeguarded against such developments in the future.”
Plans for a turbine on farmland at Duddo were given the green light in January by the Planning Inspectorate after an appeal by the applicant, 3R Energy Solution.
The company’s application had previously been turned down by Northumberland County Council’s planning committee, which followed the advice of officers and heritage experts in unanimously refusing planning permission for the proposed turbine at Shoreswood Farm, Ancroft.
Neighbours Frank and Claire Dakin of Penmar Farming mounted legal action, issuing a statutory appeal in the High Court challenging the inspectorate’s decision, which was due to be heard on Wednesday.
But before the hearing could take place, Communities and Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins, who is responsible for monitoring wind farm development on behalf of Eric Pickles, decided the Government was unable to legally defend the decision to allow the turbine, and withdrew from the case.
The Government conceded that, in considering the appeal, the Inspector had failed to give “great weight” to the conservation of designated heritage assets, and that any harm to such assets should require “clear and convincing” justification.
“It has been a nerve-wracking time,” Clare Dakin admitted.
“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 June 25, but Minister Hopkins withdrew the Government from defending itself in Mrs Dakin’s case on June 9, after initial arguments were put forward on a matter of heritage protection.
The appeal will now be sent back to the Planning Inspectorate for redetermination.
“We will continue to fight this proposal for as long as we have to” Mrs Dakin said.
“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.”