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Rugby campaign group ‘close to winning’ battle over Churchover wind farm

Victory has been all but declared in the campaign against a proposed windfarm near Churchover, after the government announced local communities will be given the right to veto windfarms.

The Conservatives also said subsidies to onshore windfarms, generated from levies on household bills, would end from April 2016 – a year earlier than set out in the previous Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition agreement.

Campaign group Against Subsidised Windfarms Around Rugby (ASWAR) said it was now “impossible to claim any meaningful local backing” for RES’s proposed four-turbine Swift Wind Farm.

Group coordinator Lorne Smith said: “We are close to winning against the vast strength of the wind subsidy speculator, the corporate giant RES.

“The new government planning policy changes have been introduced to finally put a stop to this endless worry for the local people this development would most affect.

“In light of the overwhelming local objection, the Rugby Borough Council Planners and Planning Committee cannot reasonably come to any decision other than respecting the views of the local community and refuse this latest application.

“Furthermore, any other outcome would seriously risk Rugby Borough Council being open to major scrutiny and challenge on why it ignored the new planning policy.”

Labour ministers claimed the announcement would jeopardise 1,000 wind turbines that are awaiting planning permission and cannot make a profit without a government subsidy – including Swift Wind Farm.

And the Rugby Green Party said cutting wind farm subsidies was bad news for the area.

Party spokesman Max Anstey said: “Renewable energy will supply the majority of Australia’s electricity by 2040 according to predictions by energy analysts and Germany has a target of 80% by 2050. When is the UK going to step up to the task?

“Just four wind turbines have the potential to generate enough clean energy to power 13% of all homes in Rugby with those within 1.4km of the turbines receiving a £180 annual discount towards their energy bills on top.

“Some are concerned that the view from their garden will be disturbed by the sight of a wind turbine, but what they must understand is that a wind turbine in the view of their garden is a dirty coal or nuclear power plant out of the view of another’s.

“With the added benefit of cheaper bills, reduced environmental impact, and economic benefit, the pros certainly do outweigh the cons.”

Last year, RES launched an appeal against the rejection of their planning application, which was turned down on grounds the turbines might interfere with air traffic communications systems.

The appeal was ‘called in’ for review by then communities minister Eric Pickles – normally only done if the application conflicts with national policy. The appeal has not yet reached a verdict.

There are currently over 5,000 onshore wind farms in the UK generating enough power per year to run five and a half million homes.