RESIDENTS fighting plans to build a massive substation the size of three rugby pitches on their doorsteps could win their campaign this week.
Vale Royal Borough Council's planning committee were due to meet last night (Tuesday) to decide on proposals to build a substation and track-side feeder station on greenbelt land between Acton Bridge and Weaverham. Network Rail and National Grid, who are behind the proposals, have claimed they needed it in order to power the next generation of trains using the West Coast Main Line.
However, the planning committee was recommended to turn the application down because the applicants had not demonstrated any special circumstances to justify building such a development on greenbelt land. The borough council brought in expert consultants to consider the application who found that there was no technical reason why track-side feeder stations at Crewe or Weaver Junction should not be used to upgrade the line. Planning officers for the council have also found aside from the impact on the greenbelt, the changes proposed to the landscape character of the area would be detrimental and the visual amenity of the area would be harmed.
If the planning committee sided with the recommendation, then it would be a massive victory for the residents who formed Substation Action Group to fight the plans.
Speaking before last night's meeting Steve Pardoe, from SAG said they were hoping the decision would go in their favour. He said: 'Whatever the outcome, I think we can take pride in the work which SAG and its many supporters have done, and I believe that we have carried out our task in a spirit of cooperation and integrity which I hope will serve as an example to others.
'Acton Bridge and Weaverham are two villages separated by the Green Belt, but united in cherishing it. The Applicants have found what the Minister of Transport called 'the most convenient spot for a substation'. This choice of location was clearly arbitrary, and it is equally clearly wrong.
'SAG and the two Parish Councils are naturally delighted that the Planning Officer's report recommends rejection of both remaining Planning Applications, and in such unequi-vocal terms. We feel that we have done all we could to challenge the Applicants' proposals, and show that there are valid alternatives.
'The meeting will be our final opportunity for making representations before the Committee, and we hope very much that the clear and forthright recommendations in their Officer's report will carry the day. We are relying on the Planning Committee to demonstrate that there is a higher power than National Grid, and uphold their own Local Plan.