A planning application to erect a wind monitoring mast in Bickerton has whipped up a storm of protest from country lovers.
The borough council’s planning department received 350 letters of protest, expressing fears that if permission is granted for the mast, then it will be followed by an application for the construction of industrial wind turbines.
The planning application was by a Durham-based land developer and comes before the borough’s Development Control Committee on February 7.
The action group, Stop Bickerton Wind Turbines believes that the proposal, if granted, could lead to the destruction of one of Cheshire’s most valued landscapes.
The proposed site lies adjacent to the Bickerton Hill and Cholmondeley Park, both designated by Cheshire County Council as Areas of Special County Value for Landscape.
Members worry that approval for the mast and any following turbines, could hit tourism and local businesses in an area which attracts more than 40,000 visitors a year.
The group is also concerned that wildlife would suffer, as Cholmondeley Park is home to many unusual native and migrating birds.
The National Trust, custodian of a major part of Bickerton Hill and Cholmondeley Estate, has expressed concerns about the proposed development.
Letters of opposition have also come from the Chester branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Mid Cheshire Footpath Society, Nantwich Natural History Society, Broxton Barn Owl Group and several parish councils.
The action group is now questioning an apparent shift in the supporting statements for the planning application.
Developers originally stated the proposed wind monitoring mast would enable wind speed data to be collected, to help determine whether the site would be suitable for a wind energy development.
However, in a more recent letter submitted to the borough council, it was stipulated that the purpose of the mast was not to assess the presence of a wind resource, but more to assess the form of the wind resource and how this can dictate the design of any subsequent wind farm.
Action Group Secretary, Mr Charles Hobson said: “It would appear the developers have moved from whether’ to how’, and whereas the original application suggested that the mast is required for 36 months to gather data at the site, it would now appear an application for the construction of industrial wind turbines could follow quite soon.”
Stop Bickerton Wind Turbines plans to hold a second meeting on February 13 at Bickerton Village Hall, when results of the planning application will be made known.
The action group is urging supporters to continue writing or emailing objections to Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council quoting PO7/1432 and to register at www.stopbickertonwindturbines.co.uk.
By Alexis Thompson
30 January 2008
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