Monday, 20 September 2021

Council to pursue appeal on weir ruling

A HIGH Court judge’s decision to allow a hydro-electric power plant to be built at Goring weir could be challenged.

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

The judge accepted that the district council followed incorrect procedure but said the outcome would have been the same even if it had not done so.

But he declined to award the district council its costs, saying the parish council had “expertly exposed” flaws in the process.

The parish council wants to appeal on the basis that the judge, having accepted the process was flawed, should have overturned the decision and forced the district council to consider the application again.

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 building conservation area.

Mr Justice Cranston said the district didn’t give enough weight to 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.

Parish councillor Bryan Urbick said: “It’s very unusual that we weren’t asked to pay costs and that’s part of our argument. If the decision was that bad, why didn’t he quash it?”

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