West Law Report

R (REDCAR & CLEVELAND BC) v SECRETARY OF STATE FOR BUSINESS ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY REFORM

Posted in Westlaw Reports by mrkooenglish on July 23, 2008

Queen’s Bench Division (Admin) Sullivan J July 11, 2008 Consent – Wind farms – Wind turbines – Electricity generated by wind farms – Invalidity of consent – s. 36 Electricity Act 1989

Last Updated: 6:42PM BST 23 Jul 2008

FACTS

The claimant local authority applied for judicial review of a decision of the defendant secretary of state granting consent for an offshore wind farm. The interested party had applied for consent for a wind farm with 30 wind turbines situated 1.5km offshore. The secretary of state gave notice of the application to various persons including the local authority. The local authority raised various objections including the proximity to the shoreline of the wind turbines and the visual impact, the effect on birds and the adverse effect of the regeneration of the local area. The secretary of state granted consent under the Electricity Act 1989 s. 36. The local authority contended that (1) the offshore turbines were not a generating station for the purpose of s. 36 of the Act as they were not capable of providing consumable power by themselves, and consent was therefore invalid; (2) the secretary of state should have exercised his discretion and ordered a public inquiry.

ISSUE

Whether the secretary of state’s consent for a wind farm was validly given.

HELD (application refused)

(1) There was no dispute that electrical power generated by wind turbines was of no use to the national grid unless transformed to usable voltage. However, the question for the purposes of s. 36 of the Act was not whether the electrical power was of use, but where the power was generated. The wind farm was clearly a generating station for the purposes of s. 36 of the Act. It was clear from the Act that Parliament envisaged that a generating station might comprise a wind farm and could be located offshore. The electricity would be generated offshore and then transmitted to shore.

(2) There was nothing in the local authority’s letter of objections that suggested that a public inquiry was necessary. The secretary of state was not required to rehearse trite generalities but had to decide whether the objections disclosed a conflict of evidence that could be resolved by a public inquiry. The objections of the local authority were general, and a public inquiry would have been of no benefit. Further, the secretary of state had not failed to have regard to any material considerations that he was required to consider when deciding whether to hold a public inquiry.

Geoffrey Stephenson and Kelvin Rutledge (instructed by in-house solicitor) for the claimant. John Litton (instructed by Treasury Solicitor) for the defendant. William Norris QC and Gordon Nardell (instructed by Bond Pearce) for the independent party.

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