Solar farm proposed at key Cheshire wildlife site


A Cheshire wildlife hot-spot has been revealed as the site of a proposed solar farm.

Peel Cubico Renewables recently announced its plans for Frodsham Solar, a 290-ha development adjacent to the River Mersey, which it says will provide power for 34,000 homes in the region.

However, Frodsham Marsh is a renowned wildlife refuge and the proposed development sits on land functionally linked to the Mersey Estuary Special Protection Area (SPA) – a wide range of birds from the SPA, including waders and wildofwl, also routinely use the area identified for development.

Furthermore, part of Frodsham Marsh is designated as an Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – although Peel Cubico has stated that it does not intend to develop this area.

Black-tailed Godwits gather in huge numbers at Frodsham Marsh, where a new solar farm has been proposed (Jane Rowe).

It is understood that the RSPB, which was heavily involved in the development of the existing wind farm site at Frodsham and has a seat on its Habitat Management Board, had not yet been formally consulted by Peel Cubico.

On its website, Peel Cubico says: "Solar energy generation can go hand in hand with boosting biodiversity locally such as through establishing wildflower areas, enhancing wetland habitats or by restoring hedgerows and native species." Furthermore, its plans include "environmental buffers" and "enhancement areas".

However, its current proposal incorporates large areas of grazing marsh, wetland and scrub, used by a great range of wildlife, which would be removed to make way for solar panels.

Local wildlife enthusiast Duncan Cowley is one of many local residents who are deeply concerned by the prosped solar farm. He said: "I have been visiting Frdosham Marsh for 14 years. Thousands of Black-tailed Godwits, Northern Lapwings, Pink-footed Geese and other waterbirds, as well as the occasional Osprey and Short-eared Owls, can be found in the fields here. The area of the proposed solar panels is a feeding area for most of these waders and birds of prey.

"It would break my heart to see this wildlife-rich land covered in solar panels."

The first phase of community consultation is open until Thursday 13 July. Peel Cubico Renewables can be contacted here.

A map depicting the proposed solar development at Frodsham Marsh, reproduced from www.frodshamsolar.co.uk.