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Knowsley communities could get power to block wind turbines

Knowsley communities could receive greater powers to block wind turbines under plans considered last night by the council’s cabinet.

The public are invited to give their views on the proposals during a one-month consultation, which will run from September 4 to October 2.

New planning rules introduced by central government mean wind farms should only get the go-ahead if clearly backed by local people.

Knowsley council’s consultation will consider various different ways the new rules could be fitted into its local plan, a blueprint for future development in the borough.

There has been a long-running debate about the plan, which has faced considerable opposition over proposals to let developers build on nine areas of greenbelt land.

Martin Pike, the government inspector tasked with signing it off, seemed to put the matter to rest in June by suggesting he would give the plan the green light.

But he then suggested new rules over wind energy should be added to the plan before he signs it off, after the government announced last month that concerns about turbines raised by local communities should be “fully addressed”.

A Knowsley council spokeswoman stressed that there are no proposals in the plan for wind energy in the borough.

She also said any consultation responses relating to other parts of the plan would not be accepted, with the council seeking to limit debate to only the most recent proposal on powers over turbines.

A council letter sent to a campaigner, seen by the ECHO, also suggested there would not be any drop-in events or discussions at parish/town council meetings because the consultation was only about “a single modification”.

But the council will make consultation materials available on its website, social media and locations across the borough including One Stop Shops and libraries, as well as writing to everyone who has previously given feedback on the plan.

Ray Davies, chair of Save Whiston’s Greenbelt, said: “Knowsley council has been forced to include public opinion when deciding on local wind farms.

“We want it to do the same for greenbelt development. Vast areas of housing development have a real negative effect on the day-to-day lives of ordinary people.”