On January 23 a wind farm company is bringing a legal test case which is expected to set a precedent on how much protection stately homes and historic sites have from people wanting to build turbines. (See here).

Arguably that’s a very good thing as there seems to be a lot of inconsistency in decisions but on the other hand it’s a high-risk case. The issue is whether four 400ft-high turbines should be erected less than a mile away from Lyveden New Bield, a Grade I-listed, unfinished Elizabethan lodge and moated garden. When the original go-ahead was given Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said it was “a despicable & disastrous decision”.

If the developers win and the National Trust, English Heritage and East Northamptonshire Council lose, it theoretically leaves a vast number of ancient sites vulnerable to gross intrusion onto their visual settings.

Lyveden New Bield: the question to be finally resolved is whether four 126 metre high turbines less than a mile away would cause “less than substantial” damage to its setting.

Lyveden New Bield: the question to be finally resolved is whether four 126 metre high turbines less than a mile away would cause “less than substantial” damage to its setting.

On the other hand, if the developers lose it could be good news for heritage in general. Or will it be? When the decision went against them originally a spokesman for the developers said:  “It would be wrong to suggest that any kind of precedent has been set on this occasion, as each wind farm application is considered on a case-by-case basis” – which sounds a bit like ” it’s always worth a try, sometimes you get lucky!”