Burges Salmon advises C&M Hall in wind turbine nuisance case

Environment and energy sector experts from Burges Salmon have advised C&M Hall Ltd in its High Court defence of a dispute in relation to sun glint from a wind turbine.

13 February 2015

Environment and energy sector experts from Burges Salmon have advised C&M Hall Ltd in its defence of a dispute in relation to sun glint from a wind turbine.

The High Court has today (Friday 13 February) handed down judgment in Siraj v C&M Hall Ltd, a dispute over whether the effects of a wind turbine on a neighbour constituted a nuisance at law and, if so, what was the appropriate remedy. The Claimant sought an injunction that the 50kW farm-scale turbine should be removed or relocated, and/or should stop operating during daylight hours. The Defendant, a family-run dairy farming business, resisted the proceedings and, following the recommendations in a joint report from an expert in visual amenity, offered to create a planting scheme within the curtilage of the Claimant’s property that would screen the turbine from view.

HHJ Raeside QC held that only the glinting from this turbine amounted to a nuisance, but nothing more. The Judge noted that visual interference is a very rare form of nuisance, but the effect of light from a property to an adjoining property can rise to a cause of nuisance at common law. in addition, the facts of the case were unusual due to a combination of (a) the speed of rotation of the blades; (b) the colour and finish of the blades; (c) the topography of the landscape (unusually, the Claimant’s house looked down on the turbine); and (d) the fact that the only aspect from the Claimant’s property was towards the turbine.

In a judgment that will be of interest to all those grappling with the question of appropriate remedies in nuisance cases following the Supreme Court decision in Coventry v Lawrence, the Judge declined to order an injunction. Instead, the Judge exercised his discretion in favour of awarding the costs of the planting scheme that had been offered by the Defendant. The Judge held that this was the appropriate answer in all fairness to both parties, given the reasonableness of the Defendant in offering planting, the unusual facts of this particular case, and the fact that the nuisance could be mitigated at modest cost. The Judge further held that the Claimant had not truly been the successful party because her primary case was for an injunction for the turbine's removal or relocation and ordered the parties to bear their own costs of the litigation.

Simon Tilling, a senior associate in the Environment and Energy teams at Burges Salmon, said: “The case is a useful demonstration that, just as the question of the existence of a nuisance is founded on principles of “give and take” between neighbouring landowners, so too are the remedies.”

Burges Salmon acted for C&M Hall Ltd in its defence of the injunction proceedings and instructed William Upton of 6 Pump Court.

Key contact

Simon-Tilling--250px x 250px 72dpi - web

Simon Tilling Partner

  • Head of Environment
  • REACH, Chemicals and Product Stewardship
  • Energy, Power and Utilities

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