Rugby council 'u-turn' rejects Churchover windfarm - The Rugby Observer

Rugby council 'u-turn' rejects Churchover windfarm

Rugby Editorial 5th Aug, 2015 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

A LAST-minute u-turn by Rugby Borough Council has scuppered the latest attempt to build a wind farm on land near Churchover.

A re-submitted application by energy firm RES to build the four-turbine Swift Wind Farm was declared invalid by the council just before it was due to be heard by the planning committee.

The council said the application – RES’ second attempt to get approval for the windfarm after the original application was turned down in 2013 – was invalid as the company had not carried out a public consultation.

A spokesman for Rugby Borough Council said: “Having taken expert legal advice, the council has taken the decision the planning application is now invalid as the applicant has failed to fully comply with the requirements for pre-application consultation.

“The applicant now has a variety of options available to them and, as with all applicants, the council will continue to positively engage with RES Limited on this matter.”

But RES argued that consultation carried out during the original application – which was identical to April’s re-submitted application – should suffice.

Dan Patterson, RES’ Development Manager for Swift Wind Farm, said: ““It is hugely disappointing that Rugby Borough Council has now decided that our pre-application consultation was insufficient, when we – and the community – have spent the past few months waiting for a committee date to be confirmed.

“This eleventh hour change of tack has deprived the application of a local decision, and has incurred unnecessary time and money for both RES and the council.”

He claimed there was public support for the proposed windfarm, adding that over 70% of people who participated in their public exhibitions in 2013 were in favour.

But the claim was strongly denied by local pressure group Against Subsidised Windfarms Around Rugby (ASWAR).

Spokesman Lorne Smith said: “By any measurement this local community is against.

“For example, 275 individuals have lodged objections and five supported the re-application, while 172 objected and 12 supported the original application. ASWAR has proved over and again for five years there has been consistently over 90% of local people against.”

He added the decision this week meant ASWAR had “won the third battle in our five year war to defend Churchover/Cotesbach from costly and environment-damaging renewable energy applications.”

RES’ original application was refused in 2013 on grounds that the turbines might interfere with air traffic control signals. The objection has since been withdrawn, prompting the second, re-submitted application in April this year.

RES has also launched an appeal against the refusal of the original application, which is due to be heard in September.

The company said it was considering its options – which include a further appeal against the new application being deemed invalid.

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