Monday, 19 March 2012

Paul Griffiths: When a Planning Inspector calls…


In England & Wales, even when the local population are dead set against the imposition of a windfarm next to their village, the Local Authorities are generally not very keen to turn down a planning application from a developer. Why is this?

Well, it’s all down to the Planning Inspector.

You can be pretty sure that once the developers has been refused permission, the first thing they will do is go to appeal. This appeal is decided by the Planning Inspector. Even though the local council kicks out the proposal, far more often than not Central Government’s Planning Inspector will overturn the decision and impose the windfarm on the local population anyway.

Invariably this means that the local authority that kicked out the proposal will end up footing the bill to oppose the project. This can run into tens of thousands of pounds.

I wondered how often this happened. A few days ago Paul Griffiths, a planning inspector, ruled that a controversial wind farm near Lyveden New Bield, an unfinished 16th century manor in Northamptonshire, containing one of the finest examples of an Elizabethan garden in Britain, could go ahead. (Dame Fiona Reynolds, Director General of the National Trust, said “It provides a clear indication that our cultural heritage is at great risk from inappropriately sited wind turbines and wind farms. If the impacts here are not such to amount to substantial harm on our nation’s heritage it is difficult to conceive where they would be.”)

So, here’s a Planning Inspector making a deeply unpopular decision. I wondered what his other planning decisions were like with regard to windfarms. That was easy enough to find out. I Googled “Paul Griffiths, Planning Inspector” and the following results tumbled from Google: In all the decisions listed below, Paul Griffiths overturned the local refusals!

Lyveden New Bield (as above)

The site of the Battle of Naseby and Kelmarsh Hall

Nettleton Hill

Teddar Hill, Yorkshire

Barnwell Manor, Northamptonshire

Clacton on Sea

Ashby Magna, Leicestershire

Roos Wind Farm, Yorkshire

Silloth, Cumbria

However, he did turn one down!

Cumwhinton, Carlisle But guess what? The developer hasn’t given up, and has submitted two more applications for the same place: Cumwhinton Again!

The above list is just one Planning Inspector’s decisions. There are loads more where he came from. It seems that the wind industry has the planning process in it’s pocket.


  1. What is the incentive for the planning inspector? Financial? Vocational?

    Or, is there some protocol or criteria that simply need to be checked off to allow a wind farm to be pushed through? Is the inspector a scapegoat for bankrolled political agenda?

    1. As I understand it, Paul Griffiths is 'only obeying orders.' Central Government states that renewable energy projects like wind should be given over-arching importance when making a decision.
      If you read the reasons given by Griffiths in each of his decisions he states this time and time again.

    2. Noble Cause Corruption! The Planning Inspector is instructed to approve applications to the common good. ie support the windies. Especially under Huhne the instructions were clear. Approve all applications or we will all die! We won't, but democracy did!

    3. Hi "Anonymous"
      That made me chuckle. I am sure that even the Masons don't have this amount of clout, although I am sure they would like to have.
      This is government policy that the inspectors are following. The government policy has been heavily skewed by the massive lobbying form the huge "green energy" companies. Governments are a soft target, as they mostly don't understand the economics of the engineering problems to do with wind and they need to be seen to be "doing something" about CO2 emission targets set by Europe.
      You can always leave your name at the end of your comment, by the way, so you don't need to remain anonymous.

    4. So he is just a yes man jobs worth towing the party line, and with no ethics. Or is there more to it than that?

    5. Ooh - Here you are. I'm assuming you are replying to my comment of a few moments ago at the bottom of this page
      Everyone has their own standards on ethics. Are Paul Griffiths' standards the same as ours?

      I wonder how he would answer that.

  2. Quite frankly though this research is enlightening, Alan it truly disgusts me on many levels. Makes my blood boil in fact.

    I'd like to know his qualifications, I'd like to know what kind of character he is and why he chose to make these decisions. There seems a lot of this sort of thing going on of late (OK it's been happening for years) but you'll get my drift (not wanting to kick off some political debate on here).

    What ever happened to bloody democracy? Why are most Brits so damn supine to all this crap bewilders me :(

    1. It does make me laugh when I read that the present government is telling us that they want to cut all the red tape in planning but at the same time they say that they are giving more planning decisions to local authorities.
      What they actually mean is that the are allowing local authorities to approve more planning applications but NOT to refuse them.

      Planning power is becoming more centralised so that these projects can be bull-dozed through against local opinion.

    2. I wouldn't waste too much energy blaming Griffiths. He's likely a fully qualified planner with years of experience. Perhaps, like many civil servants, he tows the line dictated by his superiors. Perhaps he has no room for exercising initiative, being his own man or actually even forming any personal opinion about the cases he decides. A bit like Lord Haw Haw William Joyce - if he didn't do it, they'd find someone else who would.

      Anyone really think a planning inspector would have the balls to form an opinion of his own rather than adopt the one directed to him by his elected superiors?

      Afraid this in all probability IS democracy in action, and it's the nation as a whole that voted in this plague of pestilential pessimism-inducing misguided politicians.

    3. Hi John
      If you read all my replies to the comments you will see that that is exactly what I have been saying. It's not this lad's fault - it's the guidelines given to him by Central Government.
      Read on, Sir!

    4. Hey Folks you too can be a planning inspector. You only need experience in a land based discipline. How about professional hill walker. I presume they mean surveyor or solicitor or land agent. I rather think we may have a sticky time with the interview. "Do you believe in Climate Change and our Route map to Renewable Energy?" "Er, No" "Next please"

    5. Maybe we should all apply for jobs with them?
      It would be fun while it lasted..

  3. And i thought we lived in a democratic country! Obviously the democratic process only matters when it goes the way of the developers.
    It may have something to do with who sits on the board of these companies, especially the ones who are also advisers to our government.
    It's all very sickening to read when the majority are overruled by the rich few.
    Who's on the board of the Inspectors i wonder.
    Very interesting Al. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    1. For years the Greens, the Left and the government-funded climate-scientists have been telling us that we need Wind Power. The problem is that they have swallowed the message hook line and sinker. None of the buggers (mostly PPE graduates) realise that it delivers virtually zero CO2 savings but that it is delivered at enormous cost in terms of money and environmental damage.
      We are losing our wild spaces at an alarming rate, all in the name of "saving the planet". Well with wind farms sprouting up all over the lace, there'll be no planet worth saving.

  4. The man is plainly an arse!
    Obviously that is just my opinion.
    And I suspect many more!

    1. Whether or not the man is an "arse," he is a chap with huge powers. As I said earlier, his remit is to deliver what the government has clearly laid out in it's guidelines to the Planning Inspectorate.

      It's these guidelines that need to be changed if the Planning Inspectors views are to be altered. And that will only come from politicians having the facts presented to them, brutally and repeatedly by businesses that are being affected by their decisions.

      It's all very well producing "green" energy, but if companies go bust because of high energy prices and tourism suffers because people don't want to walk amongst wind turbines, then and only then will politicians listen.

      Whilst they think that everything is rosy, nothing will change.

  5. Al
    Thank you so much indeed for such a lot of info in this area which I have always read and all the links which you put together, a great education. I have been coming to the conclusion, and having read Alex Salmond's vision article in the ECONOMIST 'World in 2012' wind turbines are something he brags about beating England on it is surprisingly high on his agenda. There is a huge political impetus behind them but no real rationale.
    I have developed a set of ideas, call it a strategy if you will to deal with applications but will only do it in private because you Al are being monitored well I am sure.
    'not blind resistance but resistance to blind change.'

    1. Interesting that you say that Mike. This evening (at 10:40pm) the blog was visited by IP Address: - which is a GSi SIG (Government Secure Intranet). See HERE for the details for that (right near the bottom of the page)

      The IP address comes up as "" and my IP tracker does the rest.

      Today, they came looking after Googling "paul griffiths planning inspector" - so someone's ears are burning!

      It's a regular visitor. I don't know why they don't say "Hi!" and leave a comment really...

    2. By the way Al, how did you find the visiting IP addresses and also track them down?

  6. Curses, so now the politico's will have me in their sites for
    likening one of their brethren to the far end of the alimentary tract.
    Indeed these inspectors, may well be following the directives of their political masters, but riding roughshod over our land on the basis of a flawed and misplaced ideology smacks of jobsworth!
    Even in our democratic land we have very very little real say.

    BUT... the tide is turning on Windfarms.
    Sadly it may all be too little too late.

    1. There's about 3,500 onshore wind turbines already built. Government targest suggest that there will be 10,000 turbines onshore. There is still time to stop these.
      The problem comes down to first getting refusal al a local level, but then, winning against the planning inspector.

      It seems odd to say "against" the Panning Inspector, but this is the reality, as they have strict guidelines from Central Government.

      Madness, eh?

  7. Desperate situation. It is difficult to see how this madness can be stopped - it feels hopeless at times :(

    1. We have to look at the wind projects that the Planning Inspectors have turned down and learn from these. The developers have a slick operation, with piles of money to get the best possible advice. The opposition, on the other hand, are generally doing this for the first time and have no money for legal representation.
      It IS possible to appeal against a Planning Inspector's decision, but this is massively expensive and of course highly risky.
      The trouble is, we have to exhaust the UK process before going to the European Court. Of course, the Developers know this and so are laughing all the way to the bank.

      Sickening. And all this time, our wild land is being destroyed.

    2. Records of applications to the High Court to overturn Planning Inspector's decisions, whilst not numerous,have proved reasonably successful. The problem is that the applications must be on a point of law. My own, non legal, view is that when a planning officer concludes that his decision is purely in the national interest, he is in breach of his remit which is to re-consider the local council's refusal. You may not agree but I am the eternal optimist!

  8. Just so the buggers camp on my doorstep.
    The man is basically a lacky of the Government and the Energy companies

    Here is an extract from the Mail regarding Northampton site.

    Paul "Cultural Assassin" Griffiths allegedly quoted
    'Paul Griffiths, on behalf of the planning inspectorate, said there would be a visual impact on the area but said the goverment guidelines were aimed at promoting green energy.'

    I despair.

  9. Very, very interesting!

    3 of the schemes you cited that Paul Griffiths has been "involved" with are in Northamptonshire. 1 of them, Naseby, will be visible from my village - the site is around 5 miles away as the crow flies.

    The interesting thing is there is already a 10 turbine scheme at Kettering - again about 5 miles away, and last year we (as in the local residents and council) defeated a proposed scheme at Harrington, about 4 miles away.

    So what is it about this area that makes it so popular? I don't know, but it is annoying that we seem to be such a target for windfarms!

    It comes as no surprise that the check-and-balance mechanism is actually in place to simply endorse the Government policy rather than provide a safeguard. How we have come to be lorded over by such low life as we have at the top of our political tree is a subject for another post, suffice it to say I think there are insufficient words in the lexicon to describe just how utterly we are let down by them.

    The question is: what can we do? The power is all in the hands of those who would inflict these desecrations upon us.

    Thanks for bringing these points to light. It’s just a pity the prognosis appears a bit bleak.

    1. "Back in the Day" (as an old friend used to hate people saying) when I was an Engineer we used to design buildings against wind loads to take into account their geographical location (whereabouts in the country),then their topological location (ie on top of a hill) and lastly the sort of roughness surrounding the proposed structure (that's trees and buildings that slow wind speeds down)

      In general, the most important aspect of the three, by some margin, was the geographical location.

      As one would expect the north and west of the British Isles has seriously higher wind pressures to take into account. It has to be said, Northamptonshire was very nearly at the bottom of the list for mean and gust wind speeds.

      It makes you bleed, doesn't it?

    2. "It has to be said, Northamptonshire was very nearly at the bottom of the list for mean and gust wind speeds".

      So, in terms of wind farms, that is a help how?

      Makes you weep, doesn't it ....

  10. Here's another triumph of local democracy:

    And here's one more example of underhand tactics by the wind industry:

    They got approval for Lochluichart. Then they got approval for another wind plant on the opposite hill at Corriemollie. Then even before they've started digging for the first one, they apply for an extension, bringing the total number higher than the original application. It has been done on Lewis, it has been done at Calliachar, and other places too. Invariably, Holyrood gives way.

    Weeping is not the word that springs to mind. The one that springs to mind is not fit for publication in a family blog.

  11. Druim Ba just outside Beauly is about to go before the Reporter. They have a chance on this one for a number of reasons. On the other hand if this flawed application, already turned down by both the planner and the Highland Council Planning Committee, is rubber stamped by the Minister there will be the clear sign that nothing will be refused. Druim Ba have already invested heavily both in time and money with careers on hold and hours of work undertaken and are at Custer's Last stand at Little Big Horn. The barrel is running very dry and if anyone could support them with a few pounds it will allow them to cover the costs of the expert witnesses that they need. They can't afford QCs so will be fighting this themselves against the big guns of high finance. This may in fact prove a benefit as this is not a court of law and the Reporter has already fired across the bows of the developers QC. If you can help go to and you will find a donate button at the bottom of the page. If on the other hand you wish to donate £250,000 they can arrange dinner with Denise and her husband and a chance to influence policy!

    1. Denise.... Nope. You've got me there John... Salmond's mistress?

      The fact that the Council's own planner rejected the scheme, as well as the councillors, has to be good news. Over at AlltDuine, the council's planner approved the scheme, leaving it to the excellent councillors to reject it.

      It would, I agree, lend hope to the Reporter also not allowing the appeal as they can only go according to planning law.

      However, should it be lost, then the whole of the rest of Scotland would be up for grabs.

  12. Wow John - Denise will kill you! Salmond's mistress - OMG. Denise is my fighting colleague who has managed to be the thorn in Druim Ba Sustainable Energy's side for nearly two years. I came on board about 18 months ago and our aim has been to keep this atrocious application in the public's eye all the time via press, radio , leaflet drops, posters, blimp flying - whatever we have been able to do. An exhausting, all consuming effort. John is right we are nearly at the end of this and need one last push. We have now managed to secure some professionals to give us some well needed support at a reduced cost - but it is still not cheap. As one of them said ' if this goes through it will be open season in Scotland for the developers'. All we need is a bit of help and we will do our upmost to make sure this fails. Anything gratefully accepted!

  13. Thanks Alan, Now we are both in trouble. Salmond's mistress? Denise Davies is the lovely lady who has driven the Druim Ba objection with a singlemindedness that we should all admire. She is married to Mark, our local joiner, carpenter, jobbing builder who is the sort of guy that we have all become to rely on and who has built a good business in the area based on reputation and skill. Their house overlooks Blairmore Forest, the real name of Druim Ba, and has been lovingly crafted by Mark and Denise over many years. How do you just leave a house that you have built with your own hands as your home? Last year they were nearly burnt out by a gorse fire that came down on them as a wall of flame from the north. The cause has never been established but the area is uninhabited. The fire covered about four sq kilometers. The wind farm would be built, if approved within a kilometer and a half, right in front of them. However Denise has never made this a personal crusade but has fought this for the whole community. In doing she has earnt a great deal of respect from friend and foe alike. I am sure that she will still entertain you to dinner, despite your slurs, but both Mark and Denise are vegetarian, so pack your ham sardies. She is though an excellent veggie cook and has converted me to accepting that veggie food can be very good. However I am still a carnivore!

    1. Thanks for clearing up the mystery of Denise!
      She sounds like a wonderful woman! All power to her.
      Fighting the development at Druim Ba needs all the help it can get.

  14. She is great person Alan - all wind farm action groups need someone like her. Nothing has stopped her. Even when files have mysteriously gone missing from her home and her computer had all 'wind farm' files and references to them wiped off after a 'virus' struck - she has still kept going. Determined to stop this development that will shatter the lives of so many and the environment where they work and have their homes. We are up against it so if anyone out there wants to help - no matter how small - please do as John suggests and go to Thanks guys. When we beat this we may just set ourselves up as the Cagney and Lacey of wind farm fighters to take on developers everywhere - if we survive that is!

  15. Jeez, Lyndsey. Which are you, Cagney or Lacey?

    1. Lacey I think. Denise is definitely a Cagney - wouldn't you say?

  16. A MESSAGE TO "ANONYMOUS" who tried to post at 9:36pm today about Paul Griffiths:
    Please could you get in touch with me by email:
    alan dot sloman at gmail dot com
    Thank you

    1. The Planning Inspectorate have been busy recently, mostly visiting the blog.
      Today: Half an hour or so reading this post.
      Why don't you say "Hello," Paul?
      Straight afterwards a firm of lawyers, Bond Pearce, visited from Bristol (the home of the Planning Inspectorate & Paul Griffiths) Hello chaps! Can I help you with anything?

  17. This might be of interest, Alan.

    They've mounted a legal challenge against Paul Griffith's decision. Interestingly, they mention other planning inspectors who have been far less keen than the estimable Mr Griffith (who's surely in line for an OBE for services to the renewable industry) and have turned down applications in similar situations.

    We shall see what the High Court makes of it all. After all, they're specialists in hot air, aren't they...

    1. Thanks for that link, Andy
      The Challenge is interesting - if that works it will set a glorious precedent.

  18. Griffiths regularly comments as follows in his decisions

    ‘Obviously, 25 years is a long time in relation to the human lifespan, spanning, roughly, a generation, but in terms of the age of the designated heritage assets affected, and the period that they can reasonably be expected to endure, it is relatively insignificant. As set out, harm would be caused to the setting of a number of designated heritage assets. However, that the harm would not be permanent must reduce the degree of harm that would be caused, overall.’

    Furthermore in a more recent decision he also commented as follows

    “There is no specific guidance as to the level at which harm might become substantial but on a fair reading, it
    is clear that the author(s) must have regarded substantial harm as something approaching demolition or destruction.”

    This planning inspector clearly believes that heritage assets are irrelevant, unless there is an actual physical threat to them. If he is right then heritage assets should not be considered at all in the planning process (unless they are to be physically damaged in some way). If Griffiths is wrong, he should be sacked and all of his decisions declared void. I might add that other inspectors view the significance of 25 years very differently.
    APP/P0119/A/11/2154175 (Alan T Gray)
    APP/H0520/A/11/2146394 (Paul Jackson)

    1. A first class comment, Anon;
      For convenience I have pasted below Alan T Gray's feelings:

      "66. I have not reached this conclusion lightly and have considered the temporary nature of the development. However, in this case temporary means a two year construction period followed by 25 operational years. That is a very long time and I am not therefore persuaded that the temporary nature of the development would greatly reduce the adverse impacts."

      Paul Jackson's feelings are "In this case, the harm that would occur to the attractive countryside in the Kym valley by reason of the location of turbines on the crest, in direct contravention of adopted supplementary guidance, is the most important factor and it is also the most serious contributing factor to the harm that would occur
      to the settings of heritage assets. In the light of adopted LP and CS policies and emerging DPD policies, it amounts to a very substantial objection. The harm to residential amenity also carries weight. Although permission would be for 25 years, after which the turbines would be removed, that is a very long time in which the sensitive character of this valley landscape would be seriously adversely affected, the enjoyment of the attractive valley landscape impaired and the settings of important heritage assets significantly harmed. For the
      above reasons, and having regard to all other matters raised, I conclude that the environmental and economic benefits of the scheme would be significantly outweighed; and the appeal must be dismissed."


  19. Here's some fascinating statistics taken from the Planning Inspectorate's own yearly reports.
    Let's take three Planning Inspectors, apparently at random: Let's choose
    Colin Ball, Jessica Graham and Paul Griffiths.

    These three unrelated (cough!) Inspectors' case results are in the public domain. For the first three quarters of 2011/12 they each handled a number of planning appeals and these are their results:

    Colin Ball (Daddy Bear?): Allowed (3) Dismissed (18)
    Jessica Graham (Baby Bear?) Allowed (23) Dismissed (46)
    Paul Griffiths (Boyfriend Bear?) Allowed (8) Dismissed (4)

    So, wind farm developers out there: From these very simple statistics it would appear you would want Paul Griffiths to handle your case.

    NOTE: In the interests of fairness, I have searched high & low to try to find statistics purely relating to wind farms, but the Inspectorate does not publish these.

  20. Someone seems to like this thread! This morning IP visited five times and spent a good hour reading this thread alone.
    I wonder whose ears are burning?
    Perhaps you would like to leave a comment?

  21. It is very rare that a Planning Inspector's decision is then taken to court, but The National Trust, English Heritage and East Northamptonshire Council have launched a joint legal challenge against Paul Griffiths' approval of four wind turbines within one mile of a Grade I listed building; Lyveden New Bield.
    More can be found about it HERE
    The best of luck to them. Then perhaps, there should be an inquiry into the rest of Griffiths' dreadful wind farm decisions.

  22. Here's another, more recent, stunning bit of logic from Griffiths

    Griffiths "accepted that the turbines would affect the setting of heritage assets, including a grade I listed manor house and a grade II registered park and garden. But he said that their 25-year lifetime would be relatively insignificant in terms of the age of the affected heritage assets."

  23. Here's another:

    "The inspector accepted that the scheme would lead to some adverse impact on landscape character and on the setting of heritage assets. However, he reasoned that the scheme's 25-year lifespan was relatively transient in terms of evolution of the landscape. Since the scheme did not entail demolition or destruction of any historic assets, he did not consider that they would suffer substantial harm.

    He noted that the government's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the development of renewable energy sources is unequivocal and legally binding. While the national pipeline of renewable energy projects might be healthy, he added, this depends to a large extent on proposals already in the planning process coming to fruition.

    The government's ambitions for green energy extend well beyond 2020 and if these are to be realised new projects will need to be brought forward to sustain supply, he reasoned. On that basis, he concluded that the scheme's adverse impacts were insufficient to outweigh its overall benefits.

    Inspector: Paul Griffiths; Inquiry"

    Griffiths seems to be destroying England's countryside single handed. The man is a complete arse.

  24. Parkhead Farm, Silloth
    Cooklands Farm, Old Snydale, Pontefract
    Earls Hall Farm, St John’s Road, Clacton-on-Sea
    Land South of Pilmar Lane, Roos
    Deans Hall, Hyde Mill Lane, Breward, Stafford
    Land South-East of Low Spinney Farm, Ashby Magna, Leicestershire
    Mars Complementary Petcare,
    Land adjoining Upper Prospect, Nettleton Hill, Golcar
    Land to the South of the A14 and North of Haselbech, Kelmarsh
    Area North of Catshead Woods, Brigstock Road, Sudborough, Northants.(OVERTURNED AT JUDICIAL REVIEW)
    Chelveston Renewable Energy Park,(NORTHANTS)
    Chelveston Renewable Energy Park,(BEDS)
    Land at Airfield Farm, Podington(JUDICIAL REVIEW THIS SUMMER)
    That's 13 approved

    Land at Newlands Farm, Cumwhinton, Carlisle
    Land to the North-West of Hawthorn Village and South of Murton and Cold Hesledon, Hawthorn
    That's 2 dismissed

    If you exclude small turbines (he has a 50:50 record on these) from May 09 to August 12 he allowed 10 and dismissed 2, that's 83:17. Apparently the average record for wind farm appeals is 60:40

    Unbelievably, he is presiding over another rubber stamping excercise almost as we speak

  25. I see Cornerstone Barristers came to have a sneaky peek today.
    IP address
    Hello Chaps! Can I help you with anything? Who's paying the bill for you to work on a Sunday?
    (Mark Lowe is a specialist in planning law, amongst other things)


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