RESIDENTS affected by a giant wind farm proposed for Frodsham and Helsby Marshes will be asked what they think about Peel Energy’s £1.5m package of community projects if its controversial plan is approved.
A steering group representing town and parish councils, including Frodsham, Helsby, Elton, Ince, Dunham Hill and Alvanley is planning public consultations to support its ongoing negotiations with Peel over the potential Community Benefit Fund (CBF)
The steering group, facilitated by Cheshire West and Chester Council and formed at Peel’s request, has secured support from the independent Community Foundation for Merseyside to assist in CBF negotiations and lead consultation events in May/June in Frodsham, Helsby and Elton.
The foundation says it will work to ‘ensure the best understanding and options for the community’ by engaging with as many residents as possible, not just the organised protest and support groups, about securing a CBF and how it should be spent.
The £1.5m grants will be released over the wind farm’s 25-year lifespan.
It will also run an online consultation about any deal associated with Peel’s plan for 20 turbines, each 125 metres tall, that would form the second largest onshore wind farm in the country.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s objection to the scheme has triggered a public inquiry to be held in July/August.
Steering group member Cllr Andrew Dawson said: “It’s important everyone gets involved, because only by people speaking their minds will Peel understand exactly where the community is coming from and the people tasked with these negotiations fully understand what the community wants to happen.”
However, he stressed the CBF steering group remained united in their opposition to the wind farm scheme and he was very conscious that a community benefit fund could be seen as an attempt by Peel to sway public opinion – and people may say they don’t want to touch this money at all.
“I’m happy to support this democratic process, but I don’t like what’s going on,” he added.
Cllr Dawson claimed Peel had suggested the size of the community benefit would be restricted because the wind farm involves the extra cost of installing a second radar at Liverpool Airport.
“That’s just outrageous. I believe the offer is poor recompense for the loss of landscape and impact the wind farm would have on 14,000 people living within 4km of it.”