CAMPAIGNERS battling a giant wind farm north of Winchester have been given fresh hope by changes in renewable energy subsidies.

The Government is to cut support for onshore and solar energy but give more to offshore wind power.

EDF Energy Renewables has submitted a planning application to build 14 126-metre masts on farmland at Bullington. Council planners are due to decide on the plan in April 2014.

Douglas Paterson, chairman of Keep Hampshire Green, described the shift in subsidy as “very good news” for the countryside but added it would be more expensive for taxpayers.

Mr Paterson said the news gave protestors a “glimmer of hope” that EDF might now drop the scheme.

He said: “It is like trying to stop a juggernaut. If we can get the planning application turned down in April, EDF may not now go to appeal.”

But EDF Energy said it was “business as usual” and would not make any difference to the Bullington scheme.

The set prices for onshore wind power and solar energy will be cut from 2015, while those for onshore will be increased.

Mr Paterson said: “I welcome the shift in emphasis. If we are going to have wind farms, at least they won’t destroy the countryside.”

But he added: “Onshore wind farms are 10 per cent more expensive than nuclear but offshore are 70 per cent more expensive than nuclear. It is still a very expensive form of electricity.”

But commenting on the changes, a EDF Energy spokesman said: “It is business as usual. It does not make any difference to our plans for Bullington. We need to see the detail but we are continuing to progress with our plans.”

Martin Heath, director of Hampshire Energy Group, said government had consulted on the changes over the summer.

He said: “There is nothing in the 110-page report from DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) that is a huge surprise. It seems a bit of a red herring.

“I don’t think it will make a significant difference unless EDF decides it wants to do more offshore than onshore wind farms.”

Hampshire Energy Group has negotiated a 10 per cent community share in the Bullington wind farm if gets the go-ahead.

“Our co-operative has already included these new numbers in our calculation, so there is no change from our point of view.”