One of the questions that Cllr Lynn Riley and I get asked most frequently is 'is there any update on the windfarm?'
Well yesterday we both met with Steven Snowdon from Peel Energy for an update.
First some key dates. The 'drop dead date' for the project being commissioned is 1 April 2017. This is the date on which the ROCs - in other words the government funding mechanism for this site - cease to be available. We were told that the turbines are likely to be erected in 2016 with those in front of Helsby being erected ahead of those near Frodsham.
At the moment Peel are working through the various planning conditions imposed by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. There are many conditions they have to satisfy before they can start works. There are also practical issues they need to resolve such as what are the ground conditions? In September this year they will be doing exploratory work on this.
Peel are also having to work on resolving issues for the radar at Liverpool Airport. As you would anticipate this has to be done before any wind turbines are erected.
We stressed to Mr Snowdon that whilst most of the local community had been, and no doubt continue to be opposed to the windfarm, we accepted that a decision had been made. Like it or not Peel were set to become a very important part of our local community - and we wanted them to be a good neighbour for us and to work with us.
In that vein we asked Mr Snowdon to go back to his colleagues as see if there was any chance to move the turbine set to be closest to Frodsham (under 600m from the nearest house) to be relocated at 'the other end of the line' - in other words furthest away from Frodsham. He agreed that Peel would look into this for us.
We talked about other issues such as the drainage of the marshes (bearing in mind the Environment Agency is to cease maintaining the pumps in 2015) and local employment and business opportunities for Frodsham people and businesses. I have to say the initial discussions were productive - on these sorts of issues we probably share the same interests with them. I do hope this is something that can bear fruit going forward - but it is early days yet.
We also touched on the issue of the Community Benefit Fund - and agreed that this was something that needed much more work going forward - so watch this space.