The EH Legal Director has tweeted….


Great idea. It has been said that “genius is the ability to act rightly without precedent” but it’s self-evident that most planning inspectors and most people aren’t geniuses and need to be guided by precedents. For instance, one inspector recently judged, without obvious reference to precedents, that a wind turbine that was 485 ft high from ground to blade tip was “unlikely to be visually oppressive or overbearing”. He had to be having a laugh. Except that he wasn’t. That’s about the same height as the Lighthouse of Alexandria – whose core function was to be visually oppressive and overbearing!

A searchable database of heritage planning and court cases might have led him to a less random assessment. And democratised the process by giving the public access to tools to challenge opinions rather than having to just accept them. In addition, although it’s probably not practical, photographs would clearly be worth a thousand planning specialists’ words, especially as the Government has just signalled a change of tune, with the new energy minister saying:  “The salience of aesthetics to discussions about renewables has often been neglected”.

One of a number of “unlikely to be visually oppressive or overbearing” wind turbines currently being erected at Mynydd y Betws – Image Credit, Sandy Gerrard. (For scale, see the pony at the base.)