Atmos ornithologist welcomes developers’ willingness to go the extra mile with environmental improvement measures.
The decision by Cheshire West and Chester Council to abandon plans to challenge the outcome of the public inquiry that approved Peel Energy’s plans for a 19-turbine wind farm on Frodsham Marshes, land between the M56 motorway and the Manchester Ship Canal, has been welcomed by environmental specialists Atmos Consulting. Following a public enquiry at the end of 2011, energy secretary Ed Davey had returned a decision in favour of the development in October 2012.
Atmos Consulting managing director and renowned ornithologist Stewart Lowther has given expert witness to the inquiry, as the potential risk to birds had been identified as an area of significant concern. The removal of one of the 20 turbines in the original proposal, and a habitat management plan advised by Atmos Consulting would, he said, mitigate risks to the bird population.
The Atmos Consulting advice, fully accepted by Peel Energy, established to the satisfaction of the Inquiry and stakeholders including RSPB and Natural England that there was negligible risk to bird populations in the zone of disturbance around the turbines.
“We believe that this process has demonstrated that renewable energy development and nature conservation are not mutually exclusive,” Stewart Lowther said. “It was especially pleasing to see how receptive the developers were not just to mitigation measures, but also to investing in proactive habitat enhancement.”
The Frodsham Marshes lie adjacent to land designated as a European Special Protection Area. It is also a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance, designated under the 1971 Ramsar Convention. The approved wind farm site also shares a common boundary with the southern boundary of the Mersey Estuary SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).