Thursday, 13 December 2018

Opponents may quit fight over weir plant

A DECISION by a judge to allow a hydro-electric power plant to be built at Goring weir may not be challenged.

Goring Parish Council has been denied the right to appeal against Mr Justice Ross Cranston’s ruling, following a hearing last year, that South Oxfordshire District Council was right to grant the scheme planning permission.

The Court of Appeal has backed Mr Justice Cranston’s conclusion that, although the district council made procedural errors, this did not significantly affect the final decision.

The parish council had argued that the judge, having accepted the process was flawed, should simply have quashed the decision and forced the district council to re-evaluate the application.

It is now seeking legal advice on its next step.

The Goring and Streatley Sustainability Group plans to build three 12ft wide Archimedes screws near Goring bridge with additional plant off Goring lock island, which it says could power about 300 homes in a year.

The energy would be sold to the National Grid and a share of proceeds would go towards community projects.

The parish council opposed the application but the district council said it wouldn’t harm the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and would only cause “minor” harm to Goring’s conservation area.

Mr Justice Cranston said the district council didn’t properly consider the impact on the conservation area and should have conducted an appraisal of the buildings within it.

He said it should have sought opinion on whether an independent landscape impact assessment was needed.

He declined to award the authority’s costs, saying the parish council had “expertly exposed” its flaws.

Parish councillor Bryan Urbick said this week: “We can’t discuss it publicly but we’re looking at many different options.

“Our concerns about the scheme remain unchanged and those issues must be addressed.”

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