Frodsham windfarm plans concern locals
PUBLISHED: 01:16 21 October 2011 | UPDATED: 21:39 20 February 2013
The Cheshire countryside could be transformed by giant turbines producing clean green energy, as Paul Mackenzie reports
We are in the throes of a rural revolution. Forests are being created which soar into the clouds in some of the most beautiful parts of the county. These giants make use of one of the most abundant natural resources we have, the wind.
The huge turbines and their soft rhythmic thrum have become familiar sights and sounds and are instantly recognisable icons of the drive to create a cleaner, greener future.
The government has a commitment to generate 34 per cent of UK electricity from renewables by 2020 the figure is currently less than seven per cent but although there is widespread acceptance of the need to generate environmentally friendly power and to move away from our dependence on fossil fuels, with each newly proposed wind farm comes a protest.
In Frodsham, members of RAW - Residents Against the Windfarm - are fighting proposals for a giant wind farm which it is claimed would generate enough electricity to power 28,500 homes.
A public inquiry is to begin next month into Peel Energys proposal to build 20 125 metre tall turbines on Frodsham Marshes, on the outskirts of Runcorn.
Stephen Snowdon, Peel Energy Development Manager, said: There is an accepted planning need for the UK to develop more on-shore wind farms to tackle challenges in providing affordable renewable electricity and reducing greenhouse gas emission that, if unmet, could impact on us all.
There are many supporters of this scheme in the local community who recognise the importance of Cheshire playing its part in meeting national renewable energy obligations, securing energy supplies and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We look to build on this support and hope that we can deliver what would be Cheshires first significant wind farm.
But campaigners opposed to the plan say that giving the green light would result in toxic gas being released into the atmosphere during construction and the deaths of thousands of bats and birds. They also claim the turbines could induce migraines.
Tony Hinkins, a founder member of the campaign group, said: We are absolutely not against all wind farms, we are totally committed to reducing our carbon emissions. But there are lots of planning reasons why this is a very poor proposal. If you are going to build a wind farm you might as well build a good one. This one will be ineffective and inefficient.
It will be the second largest wind farm in England and it will be totally within the green belt between Ellesmere Port and Runcorn which is a very important area for wildlife. The landscape would be affected too, these turbines would be so big as to break the horizon when you look north from the top of Frodsham Hill, devastating the view.
Peel Energy say the proposed wind farm, which would stand on land between the Manchester Ship Canal and the M56, would help to deliver more than one-quarter of the 2020 renewable energy target for Cheshire.
And those in favour of wind energy argue that the power it produces is clean, reliable, affordable and safe.
Nick Medic, from Renewable UK, the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries, said: We are running out of fossil fuels and we need something urgently as replacement. UK Coal, the countrys largest producer estimates total UK coal reserves will last only another 20 years. If we dont act in time we will have to import all our coal within the next two decades in order to keep the lights on. We will also have to import much of our gas.
Wind turbines work when it is windy, which for an average turbine in the UK is around 80 per cent of the time. Of course we should continue to explore further ways to generate clean green energy, but why should we turn our backs on an abundant and free source, which is readily available within current technological capabilities.
The public inquiry is scheduled to begin at the Holiday Inn, Runcorn on November 22. Frodsham, Helsby and Cheshire West and Chester Council have all objected to the proposals.
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