A community wind energy project involving benefits for local people has been blocked by the High Court.
The ruling against the Resilient Energy Severndale project is expected to have repercussions for similar renewable energy schemes across the UK.
The project was given the go-ahead by Forest of Dean District Council last September and involved the installation of a single 500kW wind turbine which has a maximum blade height of 87m.
It was to be developed on land at Severndale Farm, Tidenham, Gloucestershire, through a community scheme, with local people being invited to invest in the project and an annual donation based
on about 4% of turnover generated by the turbine going to local causes.
But a judge has ruled the grant of planning permission “unlawful” because the district council was not entitled to take into account the community donation “as a material consideration in the planning decision”.
Mr Justice Dove said: “It is difficult to see how the provision of waterproof clothing for a play group or lunches for senior citizens has any proper bearing on the issues relevant to land use
and control of development which are at stake when considering whether or not to grant planning permission for a wind turbine.”
The project’s promoters estimated that its community donations could have averaged £15,000-£25,000 each year for its 25 years of operation “for current and future community needs”.
The project involves a partnership between the farm owner and the Resilient Centre.
An appeal against the High Court ruling is under consideration