A High Court judge has decreed that energy firms can build giant wind turbines a mere 350 metres from peoples' homes.

Milton Keynes local council had tried to stop planning permission for RWE Npower Renewables Ltd from putting up 125 metre high turbines less than 1,217 metres away from homes. But Judge John Howells QC disagreed with the council.

This is a judgment that could be used across the country by power firms over what can be a divisive subject area.

The judge's decision appears to hinge on the council's emerging stance on this particular project, especially with regard to any separation distance, being 'plainly in conflict' with normal local policy.

The area local development plan recommends a minimum distance of 350 metres and the council wanted to impose a distance of 1,217 on this project.

The Leader of Milton Keynes Borough Council, Cllr Andrew Geary, is quoted in the Telegraph as saying that any council that does not have a separation distance between homes and turbines already in their policies should 'sit up and take notice' of this decision. He said that it would actually have been better if the council had no local policy on this at all because then their emerging policy would gave won through.

Friends of the earth Planning Campaigner Naomi Luhde-Thompson said:

“These short-sighted plans to restrict wind farm development would have dealt a significant blow to efforts to build a safe, clean and affordable energy system, not just in Milton Keynes but in other areas too.

Wind turbine

Wind Turbine by Taniae at em.wikipedia

“Numerous wind farms across the UK already have community backing – if we give local people a financial stake in their success, they could be more popular still.

“Ministers say the planning system should be used to tackle climate change – but more must be done to ensure local councils play their part in cutting emissions by reaping the benefits of clean British energy from the wind, waves and sun.”

Friends of the Earth Milton Keynes campaigner Rebecca McKinney said:

“We welcome today's decision. The council's attempts to introduce a buffer zone would have made most of the area a no-go location for wind turbines.

“Many local communities are embracing wind projects – seeing them as a clean, green alternative to expensive imports of gas.

“Wind power is a key part of the mix of renewable energy that we need to see grow in the UK if we want a chance to avoid catastrophic climate change.”

Image by Taniae at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

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