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Campaigners against Frodsham Marshes wind farm give evidence at public inquiry

Wind turbines on the edge of Runcorn would destroy views for 33,000 residents, dominate the skyline, and be totally ‘inescapable’ and ‘detrimental’ to day-to-day Frodsham life, campaigners have claimed.

Speaking at the public inquiry into Frodsham wind farm at the Holiday Inn, Runcorn, campaigners against Peel Energy’s application to build 19 turbines on Frodsham Marshes said the development would turn the picturesque town into ‘a theatre with the turbines set as a stage’.

After months of preparation members of campaign group Residents Against the Wind Farm (Raw) presented their case against the turbines, which they said would be as high as Helsby Hill and be seen by 33,000 people living in properties up to 3km away.

Clapping and murmurs of support came from residents as the campaigners revealed their still and moving photomontages to the inspector, showing the turbines ‘looming’ over cricket pitches, pubs, supermarket car parks and farms.

Speaking for Raw, John Hulse, of Helsby, said the turbines would have a detrimental impact on the lives of thousands of people.

“The number of properties in close proximity to the turbines, and the fact that many are on raising ground and orientated to maximise views of the marshes, would combine to create a severe loss of visual amenity to the communities of Frodsham and Helsby,” said Mr Hulse.

“In everyday life residents will be unable to escape the impact of the turbines and that is really quite unacceptable.”

Mr Hulse argued it would not just be properties that would be ‘detrimentally damaged’ by the turbines, but the area’s heritage and history, which so many visitors, residents and tourists enjoyed every day.

He said: “I, like many other residents, like to stand on the viewpoint on Helsby Hill. I am standing where our Iron Age ancestors stood, and I find that very exciting. But the turbines would be moving and be impossible to see through.”

Mr Hulse said that because many of the properties faced the marshes it would make the area ‘a theatre with the turbines set as a stage’ which would affect the Sandstone Trail, Helsby and Frodsham Hills as well as thousands of people driving along the motorway.

But representing developer Peel Energy, Vincent Fraser QC said the group’s photomontages were not accurate and he disputed their use.

Mr Fraser also disputed the figure reached by the campaigners which contradicted the number of affected properties reached by RSK Environment.

He said: “If you view one of yours and set it against one of ours you should get the same impression of scale for that turbine. If, in actual fact, we were to do that and there was a difference between them, given that ours are not disputed by the council you would have to accept that ours should be used by the inquiry.”

Helena Kelly of RSK , speaking for Peel Energy, recommended that the development be approved as it would not have a detrimental impact on the setting and character of scheduled monument of Helsby Hill Camp as the setting had already ‘changed extensively over time’.

The inquiry continues.