Lords block cuts to onshore wind subsidies

Reports that peers have been accused of 'holding the government to ransom' after blocking plans to scrap subsidies for onshore wind farms feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Telegraph reports that peers on Wednesday "voted in favour of a Labour amendment which scrapped government plans to end onshore wind subsidies a year early."

The Guardian reports that work on the first new nuclear power plant in the UK for 20 years "is set to begin within weeks" after the French energy company EDF and China’s main nuclear operator agreed a deal on building the project. The newspaper says that the agreement was hailed by "Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, at a joint press conference in London, with Xi describing the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset as the ‘flagship project of cooperation’ in a new era for China and Britain."

Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins says that "England’s churches can survive – but the religion will have to go". Jenkins writes: "The reality is that the network of parish churches must be the nation’s grandest unexploited social resource. This network may be failing in its original purpose, but that does not obscure its potential. The essence of most churches is their beauty and physical prominence. They are the physical embodiment of local England and should recover their status as the community’s social and cultural focus. This will never happen while they retain their aura of religious exclusivity."

Telegraph columnist Allister Heath says that the government must make a decision on airport expansion in the South East. He says: "The government must take a decision – be it another runway at Heathrow, the clear winner from Davies’s report; an expansion at Gatwick; or even (and this is unlikely now, not least given the mayor’s rivalry with Mr Osborne) a Boris Island on the Thames Estuary in Kent – before the end of the year. It must then invest as much of its post-election capital as necessary to achieve a historic breakthrough. More capacity, wherever it happens, is infinitely preferable to another 20 or 30 years of economically suicidal bickering."

The artist Damien Hirst has "won a fraught planning battle to give his multi-million pound" art collection a home, the Telegraph reports. The newspaper says that Hirst intends to build "an enormous subterranean extension beneath his garden, in North London". The project "was recommended for rejection by conservationists because of the number of trees that would be chopped down. But the world's wealthiest artist got his way at planning committee meeting on Tuesday and will now be able to ahead with the huge project", the newspaper adds.

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