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Proposed Substation for Network Rail

Substation Action Group

News Media Page (2004 - 5)

SAG Logo by Tony Daffern

Revision 33 of 25. May 2005
Press coverage of our campaign has been remarkably sustained, so in order to make the News Media pages more manageable, we've packed off the older material to a 2003 news archive page.

The current page has a selection of newspaper coverage of our campaign from 2004 and 2005 (with acknowledgements to the publishers). There have also been several letters printed on the subject.

Click for SAG's Press Releases, or the main Nopylon.co.uk campaign page.

Copyright NG 2005 The Northwich Guardian picked up the story on 25. May 2005 (p12, left), quoting Network Rail, Glen Gidley and Steve Pardoe, with a photo from the Substation Action Group's display at Weaverham Show last year, when we collected thousands of signatures on the petition inaugurated by Cllr Nora Dolphin.
The Northwich Chronicle of 18. May 2005 devoted most of its front page to the campaign, with the banner headline "SUBSTATION IS DEFEATED".

Editor Paul Brown reported that Network Rail had announced that they and National Grid Transco would not now appeal against Vale Royal Borough Council's unanimous refusal of their planning applications for a substation and trackside feeder in Acton Bridge and Weaverham. Assuming that the Network Rail spokesman was acting authoritatively, it does seem that our long campaign has succeeded.

The article quoted Network Rail's Steven Turner as saying : "We are currently looking at other alternatives in the Frodsham and Crewe areas. If we wanted to look at a site in Acton Bridge and Weaverham, however, we would have to come back with a fresh proposal".

The article also quoted Steve Pardoe, who said that SAG had consistently argued that Crewe and Frodsham would be more acceptable locations, and that the applicants seriously misjudged the determination of local people when they picked this convenient spot on the map.

Copyright NC 2005
Copyright NC 2005 On page 3, a colour photo accompanied an article about the Substation Action Group, and remarked that the campaign had received support from across the political spectrum.

Copyright NG 2005 The local newspapers featured brief articles on Wednesday 23. February 2005 about the newly-extended period for an Appeal by Network Rail and / or National Grid, which means that the developers' decision may not be known until May. Both papers quoted Steve Pardoe in saying that SAG's campaign and research would continue.

The Guardian (p11, left, headlined 'Protesters fear a new fight') reminded readers that in the event of an appeal SAG and local bodies would be working together with Vale Royal to oppose the development.

The Chronicle (p5, right, headlined 'Group would seek to speak') pointed out that SAG would request special permission to talk at a public inquiry by seeking 'third party rights' as independents.

Copyright NC 2005

In The Northwich Chronicle (p7, right, headlined 'NR undecided on substation appeal') Helen Cartwright reported that a change in the law means that Network Rail and National Grid now had until May to decide whether to appeal. Her article quoted Network Rail's Lesia Kozlowsky as saying : "We are still open to appeal but we are looking at a number of options as to what we can do if we don't build it at Weaverham. This will include whether it is possible to make the connection we need to the West Coast Main Line at any other sites and the cost implications".

The article also quoted Steve Pardoe, who said that SAG still hoped to persuade the applicants to look elsewhere.

Copyright NC 2005

Copyright NC 2004 The Chronicle built on last week's theme (p7, left, headlined 'Victory - Substation application is rejected') and described the campaign as a David and Goliath battle. Helen Cartwright quoted several spokespeople from SAG and the two Parish Councils, as well as from NGT and NR. The article included a "Timeline" of the campaign, with notable dates and stages, which was so useful that we are publishing a longer version on a new web page here.

The Guardian (p7, right, headlined 'Planners give thumbs down to substation') quoted Steve Pardoe in saying that all the campaigners were delighted by the planners' decision.

Copyright NG 2004

Copyright NG 2004 Vale Royal Borough Council's Planning Officer's report on the substation and TFS was published on Thursday 11. November, and both local papers reported on the 17th that his recommendation was for Refusal of both planning applications. The papers went to press just as the Planning Committee was sitting, so they were not able to report the unanimous result of the vote until the following week's editions.

The Guardian (p15, left, headlined 'Planners say no good reason for substation') quoted Colin Williams's opinion that there were no special circumstances to justify the development, and listed objections, including the 2,000-signature petition and 55 letters.

The Chronicle (p3, right, headlined 'Substation campaign wired up for victory') quoted Steve Pardoe in saying that SAG was relying on the Planning Committee to demonstrate that there is a higher power than National Grid, and uphold their own local plan.

Copyright NC 2004

Both Northwich newspapers covered SAG's Public Planning Meeting in Acton Bridge, laid on for for Vale Royal Borough Council on Monday 8. November, in their 10. November editions.

The Chronicle (p24, below left, headlined 'Substation proposal will go to inquiry'), referred to the planning process beyond Vale Royal's own Planning Committee next week, which had been discussed by their Planning Control Manager, Colin Williams, during the meeting. The Chronicle plans to print a longer article next week, once Mr Williams's recommendation to the Committee is made public.

The Guardian (p15, below right, headlined 'Final rallying call in sub-station campaign') also referred to the remarks from IPSA Power's representative, Dr Graeme Bathurst, and quoted both SAG Chair Glen Gidley's and ABPC [vice-] Chairman Steve Pardoe's comments from the meeting.

Copyright NC 2004 Copyright NG 2004

Both local papers covered SAG's presentation of a 2,117-signature petition to Vale Royal Borough Council in their 3. November editions.

Copyright NG 2004 The Guardian (p19, left, headlined 'Petition aims to put the heat on planners') had a colour photo, and covered most of the page.

The Chronicle carried a b/w photo and had a smaller article (p7, below, headlined 'Substation protesters petition councillors with 2,117 names'), but further forward in the paper. Both articles quoted SAG Chair Glen Gidley and mentioned the public planning meeting in Acton Bridge on Monday 8. November.

Copyright NC 2004

The Northwich Chronicle of 20. October 2004 (p5, headlined '2,000 fight substation') reported on SAG's petition against the substation, which has now collected over 2,000 signatures. Steve Pardoe was quoted as saying "I think this is a remarkable achievement, and shows the strength of local opposition to the plans."

Some Borough Councillors would be jolly glad to achieve a turnout like that in local elections!

Referring to Network Rail's and National Grid's comments on the independent IPSA Power report which Vale Royal Borough Council commissioned, he said "We are surprised that the applicants feel that the IPSA report adds little to the arguments so far developed. On the contrary, SAG believes that IPSA's even-handed and expert assessment of the technical issues has been helpful in showing that there is no fundamental reason for National Grid to insist on a 400kV supply, and that alternative substation and trackside feeder sites, which would have a lower environmental impact than the monstrosity they propose for Acton Bridge and Weaverham, are technically viable".

A similar article appeared in the Northwich Guardian the following week (27. October, p21, headlined 'Action group support grows), reporting on the petition and VRBC's announcement of the planning date of 16. November.

Copyright NC 2004 Both local papers published prominent illustrated articles on 13. October 2004 featuring the Banner Event which SAG organised at the proposed site on Station Road.

The Northwich Chronicle (p3, headlined 'Protesters unite in a Show of strength') reported on the visit to the site by Mike Hall MP, County Councillor Nora Dolphin, and Borough Councillor Richard Gorrill.

A colour photo showed the three VIPs with the farmer, Brian Wilson, on whose land the substation is proposed to be built, and a crowd of SAG supporters with one of their three banners in the background.

The Northwich Guardian (p20, headlined 'Substation opponents make point') also quoted Steve Pardoe's remarks about the importance of defeating the applications, so as to deter other developers from opportunist and inappropriate attacks on the Green Belt, and help to safeguard the future of a sensitive and irreplaceable part of rural Cheshire.

The article also mentioned the 2000-signature petition against the development, which SAG plans to hand over to Vale Royal Borough Council.

Copyright NG 2004
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Copyright NG 2004 Both local papers published articles on 6. October 2004 featuring the banners which SAG has erected at the proposed site on Station Road.

The Guardian (p14, headlined 'Look how damaging substation could be') also reported on the petition inaugurated by Cllr Nora Dolphin, which has already achieved 1,600 signatures from the two villages, a turnout comparable to a local election.

The Northwich Chronicle (p7, headlined 'Protesters raise standards at site') also mentioned the IPSA Power report, and its resounding endorsement of many of SAG's arguments. IPSA stated categorically that there is no technical reason for Network Rail to demand connection to a 400kV supply. Copyright NC 2004
Copyright NG 2004 The Northwich Guardian of 22. September (p19, headlined 'Another slice of rural England will be lost') offered a balanced reply to the previous week's letter from "Commuter" and showed that SAG was not anti-rail, but was merely trying to preserve the rural heritage by showing that alternative sites existed.

The Northwich Guardian printed a letter (15. September, p23, below right) from Brian Wilson, the farmer on whose land the proposed substation would be built. He points out that the development would blight a significant and contiguous area of Green Belt, and set a precedent for further damage to the local environment.

An alternative view is expressed pseudonymously by "Commuter", who makes sweeping generalisations about the protest and the protestors, while arguing that a modern country needs a modern rail network. Had "Commuter" studied our campaign, she or he would realise that we are not anti-rail (witness the efforts to renovate the local station, which recently resulted in an Award); and were the writer indeed a commuter, she or he would already be aware that the faster trains for which the new development is claimed to be needed won't be stopping in the area, while existing local services have already been cut back to make way for them! Copyright NG 2004

The Northwich Guardian of 1. September (p3, headlined 'We are right, say power protesters') discussed the IPSA Power report, which 'overwhelmingly supported many of [SAG's] arguments', according to Steve Pardoe. In particular, IPSA confirmed that there was no technical reason for Network Rail to demand connection to a 400kV supply, which leads SAG once again to ask the developers - 'what is their hidden agenda for Acton Bridge and Weaverham?'.

The Northwich Chronicle of 25. August (p5, headlined 'Location of substation questioned') described the IPSA Power report into the technical details of the substation, which endorsed many of SAG's arguments about its location and design. A spokesman for Vale Royal Borough Council said: 'We commissioned this report to give us an independent appraisal of the planning application'. The proposal is likely to go before the planning committee in October.

Copyright NG 2004 Both local newspapers again featured the story on 18. August. The Guardian (p21, headlined 'Let's show the council how village really feels') had a colour photo taken at the launch of the petition at Weaverham show. SAG secretary Albert Till was quoted as being confident that the group will get more than 1,000 names on the petition. He said: "We hope it will be seen not as the voice of a single community but as the voice of two communities, supported by politicians and councillors".
The Northwich Chronicle (p3, headlined 'Petition gathers pace') also reported on the excellent progress of the petition, with almost 900 signatures from Weaverham, and those from Acton Bridge expected to take the total beyond 1,000. The report also mentioned the independent consultation commissioned by Vale Royal Borough Council into the substation proposals.

Both local newspapers featured the story on 11. August. The Guardian (p16, headlined 'Councillor joins green belt fight') reported that Cllr Nora Dolphin had spoken out about the threat to the Green Belt, describing is as a "triple whammy" and probably the biggest threat the community had faced, and one they had to win. Referring to the Transport Ministers remarks in the Commons, she added, "We have heard that Weaverham is considered to be the most 'convenient' place for it. However, it is more important than ever to make the right decision about where the site will be in view of the effects it will have on the environment and people's lives".

The Northwich Chronicle featured a prominent report on page 7 with a photo of people signing a Petition at Weaverham Show. This was suggested at the Public Meeting which SAG held on 20. July, and signatures are being gathered from both affected villages. The same paper published a two-page spread (pp 8-9) with a photo of the substation field and protesters, and a feature article by Cllr Nora Dolphin. Cllr Dolphin criticised the developers' choice of site and expressed concern that the Deputy Prime Minister had been unwilling to protect the Green Belt in recent cases. As she put it, "how much more of our Green Belt can we afford to lose?".

Copyright NG 2004 Both local newspapers featured the story on 28. July. The Chronicle reported on SAG's public meeting on the 21st and quoted Albert Till's remarks about the success of the meeting and the developers' revised proposals.

The Guardian's article (shown at left, headlined 'Petition considered against substation') carried a photograph of the meeting. Richard Babington's report mentioned that almost 100 people packed into the parish rooms to hear about the latest plans, and quoted both Albert Till and Glen Gidley.

The Northwich Chronicle published a prominent article on 16. June 2004 (p7, headlined 'Substation update 'not satisfactory''), reporting on SAG's concerns about the revised Supplementary Report from the developers. The article was illustrated by an old photo of the protest gathering at the proposed site last autumn.

Helen Cartwright quoted Steve Pardoe's comments about our "need to investigate the implications of these changes in detail, and in the wider context of the recent, but little-publicised, scaling-back of the Strategic Rail Authority's proposals for the West Coast Main Line Upgrade. We shall then see whether we can work together with the developers and the planning authorities to achieve improvements to the WCML electrical supply in a manner which does least harm to local amenity".

Copyright NC 2004

The paper also published NGT's News Release, which lists the key changes in their proposals and also has a "Q&A" section, with their own choice of easily-answered questions, and rather facile answers.

The Northwich Guardian also featured the story, on page 14, with a discussion based on our and NGT's recent Press Releases. Steve Pardoe was quoted as saying that although the new submission went into much further detail than previously regarding the possibility of a connection from the existing NGT substation at Frodsham, "much of the argument comes down to the relative environmental considerations, from a strict interpretation of local planning guidelines. This misses the key point that the visual impact of a slight increase in the area of the existing Frodsham substation, which is within an already heavily-industrialised area, would be negligible compared with the intrusive and insensitive location which the developers have chosen on the entirely rural Acton Bridge / Weaverham boundary".

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Both local newspapers also featured the Substation campaign during the week of 9. June.

Northwich Guardian Billboard The Northwich Guardian (p18) referred mainly to the recent cuts in rail services at Acton Bridge Station, especially the loss of the tea-time return from Liverpool, which has rendered weekday commuting impossible. A spokesman for Central Trains said he did not know why the service no longer stopped at Acton Bridge. There was an oblique reference to the substation campaign; more on this is expected next week.

The Northwich Chronicle (p3) mentioned that the Developers' revised proposals had been submitted to Vale Royal Borough Council, and referred to SAG's campaign, promising a full story next week.

The Northwich Chronicle (12. May 2004, p6, headlined 'Substation revision yet to be submitted') reported that, despite an expectation that their revised plans would be with Vale Royal Borough Council by the end of April, this has not yet happened. A spokesman for National Grid Transco was quoted as saying : "We are still in the process of putting together a detailed document which will be submitted to Vale Royal Borough Council in support of the original planning applications. This will describe the changes we have made to the proposed design and layout of the substation on Station Road". Steve Pardoe remarked that "Perhaps the technical arguments we have put forward as to why the development does not need to be on this land are proving too difficult for them to dispute".

The Northwich Guardian published a prominent article on 24. March 2004 (p9, headlined 'Seeing light at the end of the tunnel'), with a great photo of the fluorescent tube "Vigil" which SAG supporters had staged on Monday night.

The carefully-illuminated shot showed two SAG officers in the foreground with tubes crossed in a symbolic rejection of the developers' proposals, and just part of the army of supporters behind, with their tubes glowing alarmingly under the 400kV supergrid cables. There will be a lot more cables, much nearer the ground, if the substation goes ahead.

Richard Babington referred to our 'spectacular protest' and quoted Steve Pardoe's comments about the continued determination of the campaign, and the developers' changed plans. He also quoted Richard Ellison of VRBC, and also the developers, who confirmed that they were studying the feasibility of providing a connection from the existing Frodsham substation.

Copyright NG 2004
Copyright NC 2004 The Northwich Chronicle (p7, headlined 'Substation plans could move on') reported that, despite claiming the site between Acton Bridge and Weaverham was their preferred choice, the two companies have admitted they are looking at expanding an existing site at Frodsham instead. A spokesman for the developers said that further information concerning the feasibility of providing the electricity supply for the WCML upgrade from Frodsham substation will be available when investigations are complete.

Steve Pardoe was quoted as welcoming this, and voiced his concern that it will be difficult for the local authority to have any credibility in more mundane planning matters, such as the height of a garden fence, if the substation is permitted on this Green Belt land.

The Northwich Guardian published a prominent article on 18. February 2004 (p7, headlined 'Substation would be environment disaster'), reporting on SAG's submission of its formal response to Vale Royal Borough Council.

Joel Sawyer quoted Steve Pardoe's comments about our presenting a balanced argument rather than a 'nimby' reaction, and the thoroughness of our 75-page documentation.

Copyright NG 2004
Copyright NC 2004 The Northwich Chronicle reported the reaching of a milestone by SAG (p5, headlined 'Formal protest by group'), quoting extensively from our press release, and reminded readers of this website. The article referred to the proposed replacement pylon and the 'hidden agenda' which its design betrays.

In a feature article almost filling the page, the Northwich Guardian of 21. January (p23, headlined 'Residents vent their feelings over substation') reported on the Weaverham Parish Council meeting on Monday. Joel Sawyer wrote that 'people power was in force' and that around 150 people had attended the meeting, some challenging the developers on technical matters. He mentioned the responses on behalf of the Council by Cllr John Freeman and Cllr Richard Gorrill, the latter referring to the fall in house values that might result if the substation were to be built.

The article included a photograph from the Public Information Event in Acton Bridge the previous week.

You can read about the meetings here.

Copyright NG
Copyright NC
			2004 The Northwich Chronicle on 21. January (p24, headlined 'Substation consultation in final stage') reported on the Weaverham Parish Council meeting on Monday, and quoted Steve Pardoe's comments that residents gave developers a rough ride. He added: 'We have to show - and we believe we can show - that this area is not the best choice for the substation, but it became clear on Monday night that Acton Bridge and Weaverham have been chosen on grounds of cost - it is the most economical solution for the two companies'.

The Northwich Guardian published a long article on 14. January 2004 (p26, headlined 'Meeting over land plans'), publicising the Weaverham Parish Council meeting on Monday 19. January, and setting out the context of the proposed substation. The article also referred to the Acton Bridge Parish Council meeting held on 5. January, repeating a quotation from Steve Pardoe.

Copyright NC 2004 The Northwich Chronicle of 14. January (p3, headlined 'Residents take stock of substation', reported briefly on the National Grid Public Information Event in Acton Bridge on 12. January, and quoted Steve Pardoe's comments that "Network Rail in particular was acutely sensitive to accusations that this blatantly inappropriate site had been chosen simply on grounds of cost and convenience, but admitted that the location was based on computer projections of traffic which were forecast by the Strategic Rail Authority".

Copyright NG 2004 The Northwich Chronicle and The Northwich Guardian both published articles on 7. January 2004 about the Acton Bridge Parish Council meeting held on 5. January, commenting on the excellent attendance, and announcing the public information event in Acton Bridge on 12. January 2004.

You can read more about these events here.

Copyright NC 2004

The Guardian (p15, above) described the 'vigorous debate' and some local residents' challenges regarding the size and position of the development.


Headlined 'Anger is voiced in meeting', the Chronicle (p16, right) quoted both chairman Bob Holt's and vice-chairman Steve Pardoe's comments about the proposed development.

To make the News Media pages more manageable, we've packed off the older material to a 2003 news archive page.

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This content of this web page is the responsibility of its editor, Steve Pardoe, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Acton Bridge Parish Council or any other organisation
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