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Proposed Substation for Network Rail

Substation Action Group

This is SAG Chair Glen Gidley's message on 17. May 2005 addressed to our many loyal supporters.

SAG Logo by Tony Daffern


I am delighted to say that our long campaign to stop the National Grid substation and the Network Rail trackside feeder on Station Road appears to have succeeded! Tomorrow you might like to read the Northwich Chronicle and see that NR and NGT have decided not to appeal against Vale Royal Borough Council's unanimous refusal of their planning applications in Acton Bridge and Weaverham. Instead they are concentrating their efforts on finding suitable sites for these monstrous developments in Crewe and the existing substation near Frodsham. This means that the plans they first put forward in August 2003 are now 'dead in the water'!

SAG is obviously pleased that the developers have seen the logic of our arguments, and are now pursuing these alternatives. SAG has consistently argued that these would be more acceptable locations for connection to the Grid, since both are already heavily industrialised. Indeed, Network Rail have always maintained that Crewe was their preferred load centre for the WCML upgrade, and SP Manweb's report to NGT confirmed that work is already in hand towards reinforcement of local supplies and upgrading their network, such as the proposed Lostock / Carrington overhead line. In the case of Frodsham, SAG has further evidence that space is becoming available within the existing 400kV compound, which would reduce or eliminate the need to expand into the reed-beds, and the IPSA report confirmed that a feeder connection from there to Dutton would be technically feasible. It would be nice to think that local utilities and national enterprises could indulge in some holistic thinking of their own!

We believe that the 'no appeal' decision only happened as a result of the opposition mounted by SAG and its many supporters. Clearly NR and NGT seriously misjudged the anger and determination of local people when they picked this "most convenient spot" on the map for their plans. Just because we choose a rural lifestyle, it doesn't mean we can't do joined up thinking! Working together with the two Parish Councils and the Weaverham Trust, and willingly supported by residents, SAG has sought professional expertise, and put together a powerful and authoritative defence of our communities which will, we hope, set such an example that these and other opportunist developers are dissuaded from ever trying such a scheme again.

We have also had strong cross-party political support from very early days. Mike Hall MP has gone out of his way to raise the matter in the House of Commons and his very public opposition to the proposals clearly influenced the Planning Committee's decision. Cllr Nora Dolphin voiced her support when she inaugurated our 2000+ signature petition, one of the largest ever received by VRBC. Cllr Richard Gorrill has also been a great help. Having them all at our banner event last October was a great example of local politics in action.

SAG would like to thank all its supporters who have formed such a vital part of the campaign. Whether by turning out to meetings, writing to the local authority, putting up posters, collecting signatures or delivering leaflets, these unsung heroines and heroes deserve the admiration of the whole community. This is a great feat for Acton Bridge and Weaverham, but even more importantly it's a wonderful result for the principles of planning law, and the preservation of the rural environment we all cherish. The Green Belt has been created with good reason, and a breach such as we have, we trust, just prevented would have set a catastrophic precedent, and undermined the efforts of those who have fought over the decades to keep England so green and pleasant.

Many thanks again for your valued support.

Glen Gidley, Chair, SAG Committee

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