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Councillors object to planned solar park over 'intolerable' traffic – Chester and District Standard

TWO councillors have objected to plans for a massive solar park in Cheshire West, claiming hundreds of HGV journeys a day would heap misery on local residents.
Plans were unveiled in the summer by Infinis Solar Developments, Green Earth Developments and Tata Chemicals Europe (TCE) to turn Wallerscote lime beds, Winnington, into a commercial solar array.
Dubbed Wallerscote Solar Park, project chiefs said it would export clean energy to the local grid and generate enough clean electricity to meet the energy needs of 6,500 homes.
The 138-acre former lime waste disposal site is brownfield land owned by Tata, which said the development would also ‘preserve rare grassland habitats’ and create structured public footpaths with views of the Weaver.
But Northwich town councillor Graham Emmett, who represents Winnington and Castle ward,  has submitted a letter of objection to Cheshire West and Chester’s planning department. Among his objections are claims the construction phase would place an ‘intolerable traffic burden’ on the area.
He wrote: “The proposal is to move 1.38m cubic metres of material into the Winnington lime beds.
“To achieve this there are two scenarios over four and five years. The four-year scenario is for 241 HGV trips which means 482 vehicle movements over a working day of 7am-6pm on weekdays, and 7.30am-4pm Saturdays.
“That equates to 50 HGV movements an hour, or one every 72 seconds. The five-year scenario is hardly better with 40 HGV movements an hour, or one every 90 seconds.”
Fellow ward councillor Lee Siddall has also objected. In a letter submitted to the planning department, he said: “My concerns primarily revolve around the potential negative impact this project could have on the Winnington Bridge and the local road network, specifically due to the significant increase in HGV movements.
“The capacity of Winnington Bridge raises significant concerns. Originally designed to handle lower traffic volumes, the proposed increase in HGV movements could place excessive strain on the bridge’s capacity.
“This is likely to result in increased congestion, traffic delays, and potential safety hazards for road users.”
The lime beds were built in the 1930s and 1940s to contain calcium solids produced by the former neighbouring Winnington Alkaline Chemical Works and subsequent Wallerscote Works. The site closed to new waste in 2002.
A statement posted on a website set up by the applicants, said: “This project will contribute significantly towards the UK’s efforts for decarbonisation and security of energy supplies.
“The proposed development provides the opportunity to retain, increase and manage as much of the biodiverse rich grassland as possible and provide significant ecological enhancement when compared to the site if left to naturally colonise.”
No date has yet been set for a decision. The plans, supporting statements and objections can be viewed on the council’s planning portal under the reference 23/02766/FUL.
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