|Dear Supporters of Community Energy,
Many of you were tremendously generous to support the legal costs for defending this action against community energy in the High Court, a Judicial Review action brought by one individual against the Resilient Energy Severndale project. No doubt you’ll be pleased to hear we put your donations to good use and appointed Martin Kingston QC, one of the UKs leading barristers on Planning and Environment.
You’ll be pleased to hear that Martin did a fabulous job for us all on the day and was respectful yet forceful in his defense of community energy and the principles of the wide range and significance of community benefits and ownership. It seemed at times that the claimants legal counsel were grasping at straws to try and make a case that by quantifying benefits arising from community owned energy into financial terms (something Government policy now forces applicants to do) these should be construed as no more than a bribe to buy the planning consent. However ridiculous this argument may seem the judge did appear at times to have some sympathy with this reasoning.
Martin Kingston was very clear as we have been all through the planning process that this is not just about money, its about the wider social, environmental and local economic benefits. He was also clear to defend the St Briavels projects track record on community funding that also came under sustained attack from the claimants.
What was satisfying on the day was that the opposition had to concede that the project had overwhelming community support, that there were far more supporters than objectors locally and that overall the project would have significant benefit to their community. It was clear that the case boils down to a few people who for whatever reason dislike wind turbines and couldn’t find any other reason to have the decision overturned.
By attacking the fundamental principles of community energy the claimant has made this into a test case for all community owned projects in the UK. The gravity of which was not lost on the judge, Justice Dove who decided he could not make a decision on the day and confirmed he would need 2-6 weeks to come to a decision. To paraphrase Martin who put this more eloquently as we filed out of the courtroom, “Some days you don’t its worth coming into work here, today was most definitely not one of those days”.
We will let you all know as soon as we hear anything. Thank you all once again for your support and encouragement.
Source: Resilient Energy Severndale Ltd
This page is also available in: Welsh