Plans to increase the size of ‘giant’ turbines on Frodsham Marshes will ‘blot out the landscape’ and ‘cast a shadow across hundreds of homes’, say campaigners.
The changes to Peel Energy’s application came as campaigners, residents and developers met at a pre-inquiry meeting last night (Wednesday) at the Holiday Inn in Runcorn to register their interests before the upcoming public inquiry.
Campaigners battling the wind farm are outraged with changes to the original application, which could see the size of the individual turbines increase from a width of 90m to 100m.
In the amendments recently published on the developer’s website, Peel Energy removed one of the 20 turbines – the one closest to Weston Point and Weston Village – after concerns were raised by the RSPB and Natural England.
Peel is also considering changing the type of turbine following a noise survey in 2010 when CWaC suggested that the developers chose The Alstom Wind ECO 100 3MW. This is a quieter turbine, but would increase the turbine rotor diameter from 90m to 100m and reduce the hub height from 80m to 75m.
But campaigners say that these changes are just to ‘sweeten’ planning officers before the public inquiry and are in direct conflict with the concerns, views and wishes of residents living in the shadow of the turbines.
Spokesperson for Residents Against the Windfarm (Raw) Tony Hinkins said that the proposed changes were like ‘a slap in the face’ of the local residents as the turbines would be ‘bigger than ever before’.
“They have done it to work around a noise objection from CWaC which they have decided to overcome by fitting a bigger turbine which doesn’t have the same noise levels,” he said.
“They have removed one of the turbines to address concerns raised by the RSPB, but this is the one which is furthest away from residents. They have done nothing to address residents issues regarding the other turbines and are actually making things worse than ever for them.”
But David Hardman, co-chairman of pro-wind farm pressure group Residents Encouraging the Use of Sustainable Energy (Reuse) said residents should be focusing on the reduction in height, not the widening of the turbines.
“The reduction in height is a very positive change if the amendments come about. It is obviously a better thing,” said Mr Hardman.
“The bottom line is if the turbines are lower they should be more acceptable to people.”
A spokesperson for Peel Energy said: “The turbine at the confluence of the Weaver and Manchester Ship Canal was removed from the scheme following extensive discussions and site visits with Natural England and RSPB, as well as other local ecological groups.”
But the developers denied that the dimensions of the turbines would change saying: “A turbine with a larger rotor diameter was considered in the noise modelling to support the discussions with CWaC’s environmental health officers but consent for these turbines is not being sought.”