It’s Official – Wind Farms Are a Damned Nuisance

The Law is my Oyster

The Tort of Nuisance – basic principles

The law of (private) nuisance has been around for a long time but it has always been a poor neighbour to the more commonly litigated torts of negligence and trespass.

In a nutshell, a nuisance is “any continuous activity or state of affairs causing a substantial and unreasonable interference with a [claimant’s] land or his use or enjoyment of that land”(Bamford v Turnley [1860] 3 B&S 62).  Private nuisance is a tort or civil wrong, unlike public nuisance, which is a crime.

Something that farmers leasing their land to wind farms might not know is that a landlord can be liable where the lease is granted for a purpose which constitutes a nuisance, as in Tetley v Chitty [1986] 1 All ER 663.

For there to be a claim in private nuisance, the claimant must show that the defendant’s actions caused damage. This can be physical damage, or discomfort and inconvenience. The test for remoteness of damage in nuisance is reasonable foreseeability. In other words, was it foreseeable that a wind turbine will cause discomfort and inconvenience to nearby dwellings?  The test is an objective one: was the nuisance reasonably foreseeable? If it was, the defendant is expected to avoid it.

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