Wind turbines may be the future as far as the Government is concerned, but campaigners in one Cheshire beauty spot rejoiced last week when a proposal for such a development was scrapped. But BEN COULBECK reports that more battles may be on the cards as the search continues for sites across the county.
The battle for Bickerton is won but the wind turbine war in Cheshire is far from over.
Campaigners celebrated last week when Banks Developments scrapped plans to build a wind farm on picturesque land near the Sandstone Trail.
But with future proposals still in the pipeline at Rushton near Tarporley and at Frodsham, members of protest group Stop Bickerton Wind Turbines are not ready to relax just yet.
Banks told the public last week that they would continue to search for suitable wind farm locations in Cheshire, despite withdrawing interest in Bickerton.
Pressure may also grow on Cheshire West and Cheshire Council to grant permission to future applications from wind farm developers as part of the requirement to meet the county’s renewable energy targets.
SBWT chairman Mike Voisey says: “While we are obviously delighted and relieved that the immediate threat has gone away, we are not complacent.
“The experience of ChART and other groups tells us that these projects can be resurrected. Therefore we will retain our association, sufficient funding and our website so we can respond rapidly to any future threat to this beautiful and tranquil area.
“The potential effect on local villagers and their businesses could have been huge and flew directly in the face of Cheshire West and Chester Council’s policy to promote the area as a tourist attraction.”
Action group Cheshire Against Rural Turbines has been resurrected in light of Cornwall Light and Power’s plans at Oxheys Farm in the small rural village of Rushton.
SBWT and ChART are now joining forces to form an alliance against the developers who view Cheshire’s countryside as potential sites for huge metal turbines.
John Sellers, chairman of ChART, said: “We are very pleased about the partnership. We have been working together for some time and it’s very good news for Cheshire. The Bickerton group has worked intensely and very effectively and we are very grateful for their help. We will be working together again and we will look to use their wonderful presentation.”
A public meeting about Cornwall Light and Power’s plans is being held at Oulton Park Conference Centre on January 28 with invites being sent to wind turbine developers, council officials and campaigners.
Members of SBWT are expected to attend and reveal how they mounted a £100,000 campaign, which lasted for more than two years.
Eddisbury MP Stephen O’Brien, an active protestor against wind turbine plans in Cheshire, is also expected to be invited. He vowed: “I will continue to oppose the proposed wind turbine development at Oxhey’s Farm, Rushton, due to the inappropriate location, as well as the impact on the visual and residential amenity of local residents.
“I am very pleased that Banks Developments has decided not to proceed with their plans to erect up to five monster wind turbines at Bickerton Hill.This is a victory for common sense and people power.”
Mr O’Brien’s personal opposition to turbines will be tested however if Tory leader David Cameron, who is a keen supporter of wind technology as a renewable energy source, is voted into 10 Downing Street this summer.