Planning Permissions Are Not for Sale!

wind turbinePlanning permissions cannot be bought and sold and financial benefits promised to local communities by a developer are irrelevant to issues of land use. In a ground-breaking ruling which proved the point, the High Court scotched plans for a wind turbine on agricultural land.

The would-be developer of the turbine had undertaken to pursue the project through a community benefit society registered under the Co-Operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. Local people would be given the opportunity to invest in the scheme and 4 per cent of the turnover from power generation would be donated to community projects. Those payments were expected to be between £500,000 and £1 million over the turbine’s 25-year lifespan.

The local authority granted planning consent for the turbine. However, in upholding a local objector’s challenge to that decision, the Court noted that it is fundamental that planning permissions are never for sale. The fact that the scheme was community led did not excuse the local authority from carrying out a full examination of its planning merits.

The donations served no planning purpose and did not fairly and reasonably relate to the development itself. No particular community benefits had been identified to which the donations would be applied and the latter were thus irrelevant to the council’s determination of land use and development control issues. The planning permission was quashed.

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