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Fresh wind farm plan sparks row over public support  

Credit:  By Andy Morris | Rugby Observer | 05 December 2013 | www.therugbyobserver.co.uk ~~

Revised plans for a wind farm on land near Churchover and Cotesbach have drawn accusations of misleading spin from opponents.

The application by energy company RES outlines details of the long-anticipated four-turbine Swift Wind Farm for land at Bransford Bridge.

In 2011, the borough council rejected a proposal by power company SSE to build nine wind turbines in Bransford Bridge on grounds it would damage the surrounding landscape, heritage and residences.

RES claims it could still generate enough electricity to power 6,400 houses – 13 per cent of homes in the Rugby area – and said the new bid addressed the key reasons for the rejection of the previous proposal.

But the company’s assertions about public support have come under fire from protest group Against Subsidised Windfarms Around Rugby (ASWAR).

In the planning documents the firm suggested modest levels of attendance to public consultations meant people have no strong opinions.

It adds: “Of the 109 people who attended the public exhibitions, 21 (19 per cent) took the opportunity to record their views by filling in a feedback form. It is therefore likely the views given in the exhibition feedback represent just 0.1 per cent of the target audience of people living and working within 4km of the proposed development.”

It also claims 56 per cent of respondents in Churchover were slightly or strongly in favour of the proposed development.

But ASWAR co-ordinator Lorne Smith claims his own figures told a different story. He said members attended all 11 hours of the exhibitions and talked to nearly everyone of the attendees as they came out and of 114 people 90 per cent were against, six per cent in favour and four per cent not sure.

ASWAR also challenged the company’s assertion there is no conclusive evidence that the presence of a wind farm has any long term effect on property prices.

A study into the potential for renewable energy development in the borough, commissioned by the council in 2010, described the potential impact of a one to five turbine wind farm as “medium/low sensitivity”.

Mr Smith said: “ASWAR believes it is in all our interests to stop both the desecration of one of Warwickshire’s heritage beauty spots, and the financial scam associated with inefficient and expensively subsidised onshore wind turbines.”

Shortly before we went to press, plans were announced by the government to cut subsidies for onshore wind farms because developers were finding ways to install them more cheaply. It is not known if the change will affect plans for Swift Wind Farm.

Source:  By Andy Morris | Rugby Observer | 05 December 2013 | www.therugbyobserver.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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