Campaigners have welcomed new Government plans which they believe will end the threat of wind turbines being built in Shropshire countryside.
The Stop Bridgnorth Wind Farm group says plans to give town and parish councils more say over future wind turbine applications would stop what they call an attack on district’s rural heritage.
The Conservatives say the changes to planning rules would give greater protection to an area’s “valued countryside”.
South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne has backed the idea, which would see a future Conservative government end public subsidies for newly planned onshore wind projects and give local councils a decisive say.
But renewable energy company, Sharenergy, a not-for-profit organisation, which backed proposals by Sustainable Bridgnorth for two wind turbines in Meadowley, in Upton Cressett, said the idea would go against Conservatives claims it was “the greenest Government ever”.
Plans for one 250ft turbine on The Hills in The Down and two 150ft turbines north of Sydnall Farm, in Middleton Priors, were rejected by Shropshire Council in March.
An application for land in Bourton, near Much Wenlock, was also withdrawn.
Mr Dunne said enough onshore wind has been planned to meet the Government’s legally-binding renewable target for 2020.
He said changes to planning rules law would mean any plans not already in the pipeline for new onshore wind projects would need to pay for themselves and get local support.
He said: “These changes would be delivered by a Conservative Government within six months of the next election.
“I am sure many people in Shropshire will join me in welcoming this announcement that the next Conservative Government will take steps to protect our countryside.”
William Cash, of Upton Cressett Hall, chairman of Stop Bridgnorth Wind Farm, said: “Tourism is critical to the Shropshire economy and the last thing the people of Shropshire want is for the landscape to be blighted by turbines.
“We also welcome the Government finally giving clarity to the issue of turbines and cultural heritage.
“Various recent appeal court decisions have clarified that it is against national planning policy to have turbines close to Grade 1 heritage assets and unspoilt countryside that is essential for tourism.”
Jon Halle, a founder director and staff member ay Sharenergy, said the Government’s own research showed onshore wind was the most cost-effective low carbon technology available for generating electricity.
“As a medium term energy strategy it has a significant place because wind leads to lower energy bills,” he said.
“Recent reports make it abundantly clear we need to pursue a policy of decarbonisation, which goes further than the current European targets.
“Community-owned wind turbines such as those supported by Sharenergy are bringing income to rural communities and putting power back in local hands.
“Mr Dunne’s policy perversely plays back into the hands of the big energy companies who can offer only more fossil fuels and fracking, destroying the wider environment in the name of protecting the countryside.”
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