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Skelmersdale residents still worried over proposal for wind turbine on Walkers Factory

Residents are still worried over plans to create a new wind turbine on the Walkers Crisps factory despite meeting representatives of the firm.

Walkers want to build a 125-metre turbine at their base on Pimbo which they claim would generate approximately 30% of the site’s energy.

But people living in Skelmersdale are worried they will be disturbed by noise from the structure and that it could affect their health.

More than 20 people came to a meeting at the Fold Centre in Digmoor to bring their fears direct to company representatives.

They heard a presentation from Simon Ely, site leader at the Walkers site in Skelmersdale.

After the meeting one of the campaigners Alan Horridge said: “The company has done nothing to allay our fears. We hope the application will be rejected when it is submitted.”

Mr Ely told the meeting the company has been collecting wind data at the site for over 12 months through a temporary anemometer mast.

The company wants to establish how the wind turbine may look in the landscape, and find out noise levels likely to come from the site to ensure it complies with government guidelines.

Mr Horridge said: “You have said we would not be putting this proposal forward if there were any scientific evidence to suggest that it might have any adverse effect on the health of the local community. There is a lot of scientific evidence which shows the situation is not clear. Can you show me any scientific research that shows there’s no evidence that these turbines have health effects?

A Walkers representative mentioned some studies and said: “The Health Protection Agency publication Health Effects of Exposure to Ultrasound and Infrasound in 2010 concludes ‘there is no consistent evidence of any physiological or behavioural effect of acute exposure to infrasound in humans’”.

Mr Horridge said there was a bill going through parliament trying to ensure that wind turbines were sited a minimum of 2km from people’s homes. A representative of Walkers said this was a private members bill. something similar had been thrown out in 2008 and 2009.

Cllr Nicola Pryce-Roberts said: “You have told us you have done an ecological study for animals but have you done a human impact assessment?

“Can you also show us any towns you have done something similar where people had the same fears as residents here but you were able to allay them.”

Mr Ely said: “I don’t know what format that assessment would take. We will look into where there have been other sites that have had turbines and let you know what feedback there has been.”

Other residents were worried about noise levels from the turbine. One asked if the company would be giving any help to residents to improve their double glazing to help keep the noise out. The company said there would be no need to improve the double glazing because of the noise generated from the mast.

After the meeting Mr Horridge said: “We felt that they did not answer Cllr Pryce-Roberts’ question about the health study.”

Mr Ely said: “We welcomed this opportunity to discuss our proposals with the local community and were encouraged by the number of people who attended and made their views known. Generally, we have been heartened by the way in which local people have engaged with us on this issue. As expected, some have expressed their support and others have voiced concerns. All issues raised have been noted and will be taken into consideration before the final application is submitted. We will continue to consult with as many members of the community as possible, including our own workforce.”

A spokesman said: “There will be a technical report on TV reception.”