Welcome to ActonBridge.Org Aston Wind 'Farm' Page

Update 12. December 2011...

More trouble for Vestas, as one of their turbines at Ardrossan bursts into flames, shedding burning debris. See this link to a report and many others this week.

There's a new threat to our local environment - a giant wind turbine array is being proposed for the Frodsham Marshes.
Once again, this is a Green Belt site - see the Peel Energy and Stop Frodsham Wind Farm campaign websites for details.

Editor's note
This section of the ActonBridge.Org website discussed the proposed 12MW wind turbine installation on Green Belt land in Aston and Dutton, our neighbouring parishes just across the River Weaver. Each of the four Vestas V90 turbines would have been 125m (over 400 ft) tall, and visible for miles around. We've left the pages on-line to provide information and encouragement for the benefit other campaigns against inappropriate wind turbine development.


The Planning Inquiry took place in August 2008 at the Forest Hills Hotel, Frodsham, and the Inspector, Dr Pykett, produced his 19-page report in November. He Dismissed the Appeal, on the same grounds that residents and campaigners been arguing all along, that the openness of the Green Belt would indeed be harmed by the inappropriate development, and that the developer had failed to show the "very special circumstances" which would be necessary to overcome the presumption of such harm.

It was a huge relief, not just that our beautiful Weaver Valley won't be spoiled, but that three years' effort (and a great deal of sacrifice and expense) hasn't been in vain. Here's a link to the Inspector's Appeal Decision. We are enormously grateful to Mike Hall, MP for Weaver Vale, the local County and Borough Councillors, and everyone else who helped to achieve this.

© Northwich Guardian 2008

Above - Article by James Wilson in the Northwich Guardian, 12. November 2008, p11
See below for details of the planning appeal.

Nordex turbines

Above, a typical 'farm' of wind turbines. Photo from Nordex GmbH, who kindly permit free use of the image.

Copyright Chester Chronicle 2007

The Chester Chronicle featured the Stop Aston Windfarm campaign on 23. November, with a full front page article (below).

SAW Banner

Mike Hall MP visited Dutton on 11. January 2008 when several SAW campaigners from Dutton, Aston, Acton Bridge and Weaverham unveiled one of their new banners. The picture shows the group on the bridleway with the Weaver Valley behind them - Mike Hall is fifth from left. Photo by Mike Robinson

Click to read more media reports about this event in the local newspapers

Another Vestas turbine collapsed in February, this time on video! The Internet is full of links - try this one to see a Vestas turbine run out of control and "explode", despite the efforts of on-site Vestas engineers. The Register has more background comment (and the clip has already had over 400,000 viewings!). Click to see media reports and pictures on our updated wind turbine failure page.

Mike Hall MP visited Dutton in January 2008 to support the campaign - see photo below and our media page, where we respond to a disingenuous BWEA article in The (national) Guardian. Our own web pages have seen a huge increase in visitors, including Vestas themselves (from Denmark and the USA), the two main Scottish power utilities, the Swedish giant Vattenfall, and several related engineering and safety companies clearly concerned about failing turbines.

More 'breaking' news for Vestas, whose turbines would be used at Aston Grange - a second Vestas turbine collapsed on 28. December, this time at Hesket Newmarket in Cumbria, less than two months after a similar incident in Scotland!

Surely there should now be a moratorium on new turbine installations (especially these accident-prone Vestas machines) until the safety case can be demonstrated?

Planning Inquiry

Planning Appeal

The site developer, Tegni Cymru Cyf, lodged an eleventh-hour Appeal (reference APP/L0635/A/07/2047477) and the matter is going to a Planning Inquiry, so, sadly, our campaign to protect the North Cheshire Green Belt from this inappropriate industrial-scale development is obliged to continue.

Planning permission for the Anemometer mast which had been erected by Tegni to gather wind speed data expired on 31. July 2007, but the mast remained in place. After intervention by Vale Royal Borough Council, the mast was removed in late November. Despite repeated requests from Mike Hall MP and others, Tegni have refused to make public their anemometer data, so it is impossible for the public to judge whether the Aston site will generate enough electricity to offset its 'inappropriate' development in the green belt.

This shorter link should take you straight to the Planning Inspectorate's page: http://tinyurl.com/36drur on the Planning Inspectorate website.

Acton Bridge, Aston, Dutton and Frodsham Parishes have already submitted their arguments to the Planning Inspectorate, and will support Vale Royal Borough Council in making a robust defence of VRBC's Refusal of planning permission late last year. Vale Royal have engaged the highly-experienced Tina Douglass as their Barrister. The Stop Aston Windfarm campaigners are being advised and represented at the Inquiry by Geoff Sinclair, a well-known expert in wind turbine Planning Inquiries. SAW have re-launched their website and published a new flyer, which you can download as a .PDF from here.

Tegni CC will be represented at the Planning Inquiry by Mr Marcus Trinick, formerly of Bond Pearce Solicitors, Bristol, but now with Eversheds. Bond Pearce said, "Marcus is a board member and vice chairman of the British Wind Energy Association". So, we know where he's coming from!

Bond Pearce visited this web page at 17:29 on 2. August 2007, searching Google for "aston+grange+tegni". They then clicked the link to our Questions and Answers page. Presumably unable to believe their eyes when Google's search result came out top of the page, they repeated the same search a couple of minutes later (and got the same result, of course). Bond Pearce visited us yet again on Wednesday afternoon, 22. August, while viewing their own website's August ('07-08') statistics on nmspace.net. Ho hum.

Meanwhile, Tegni have filed another dismal set of 2006 Accounts (just in time to avoid a penalty!).

This website does get a lot of visitors, many searching for wind turbine failures, including Vestas themselves, looking for 'vestas+turbine+accident', 'V90+gearbox+offshore+problem' and (cheekily) 'nordex+accident+uk'. Glad to help ;-)

The [UK] Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform made a direct visit to our failures page on 23. October, so they must already be aware of this website and what we are campaigning about. Scottish Southern also searched on Friday 31/8 for the 'BBC+WIND+POWER+REPORT' which was broadcast the previous day - we can help you by posting the URL of the programme here, and you can also 'listen again' from the BBC Costing the Earth website. The massive subsidies (read, "taxes") through the Renewables Obligation mean that wind farm developers, many of them foreign-owned, don't need to make an economic return, they can just grab the subsidy anyway. Tegni have refused to reveal the results of their own wind measurements at the Aston site.

Other pages on this website:

Questions and Answers from the Aston School meeting in March 2005
Acton Bridge meeting September 2005 at which Tegni were invited to discuss the project with Acton Bridge Parish Council and other residents
Failures Reports of catastrophic turbine failures, fires and service problems
Links to media coverage, other campaigns and information
Tegni Cymru Cyf's statutory accounts, our analysis and commentary
Visitors to these web pages with a professional interest in the development

Chester Chronicle

The front page of the Chester Chronicle

Previously on ActonBridge.Org...


Vale Royal's full Borough Council voted overwhelmingly on 30. November 2006 to REFUSE the planning application. The formal decision reads:-

"DECIDED: That this application be refused as it is a departure from the Local Plan and no special circumstances have been demonstrated which would make the development acceptable in the Green Belt."

You can read the VRBC Minutes here.

The local papers were full of the story, the Chester Chronicle carrying a front page banner with a photo of Frodsham's Cllr Mrs Lynn Riley, and a quote from Steve Pardoe on behalf of Acton Bridge Parish Council.

Click to read his speech to the Council here, and press cuttings and links to other campaigns.

The Planning Committee on 3. October had refused Tegni's Aston Wind Farm application, by an 8-7 majority on the Committee Chairman's casting vote, but the five Labour members of the Committee who had voted en bloc for approval then 'Called In' the decision to full Borough Council. Although it didn't seem so at the time, the five Labour members who called it in have actually done the objectors a favour. At an appeal, the 8-7 vote on 3. October could have been regarded as ambivalent, whereas the overwhelming majority this evening (by 22 to 4, out of 31 eligible) in full Council is much more clear-cut and must, surely, carry a lot more weight at the next stage of the process. And this majority was achieved despite the barring of several visiting members who had previously expressed an opinion!

Here's the background to the story.....

Vale Royal Borough Council Planning Department Application Number : 05-1059-FUM
Proposal : Erection of four wind turbine generators up to 125m high, and associated electrical and communication cables, sub-station, anemometry mast, new site access roads and temporary access provisions
Location : Aston Grange Farm, Aston, Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7 3DG
For : Tegni Cymru Cyf, Bron Craig, Llangwm, Corwen, Denbighshire LL21 0RL

The proposed development at Aston Grange would be in clear breach of local and national planning guidelines, being within the Green Belt, Areas of Special County Value, Local Environmental Value and the new Weaver Valley Regional Park ; and close to Sites of Biological Importance and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and the Trent and Mersey Canal Conservation Area. The Environment Agency has already expressed serious concern about the risks to these Sites. The huge generators (over 400 feet tall) would be visible and audible from several parts of Acton Bridge, neighbouring villages and much of north Cheshire.

Montage of wind turbines at Aston

This is a montage of how the four turbines would appear, looking west from the public bridleway crossing the Trent & Mersey Canal (SJ592772), about 2km from the wind farm. The River Weaver is just off the picture, to the left. The tower height has been scaled from the existing 132kV electricity pylons, and locations estimated by map bearing and relation to known features. Please acknowledge this website if you wish to use the image.

VRBC commissioned Land Use Consultants to review the Tegni application. LUC remarked, "although the presence of a wind farm will inevitably add a new key characteristic to the landscape [...] it will not detract from the existing key characteristics of the landscape of Aston". What? Land Use Consultants have subsequently visited these web pages several times.

Mike Hall, MP for Weaver Vale, has been firmly against the wind farm, his continuing opposition being quoted in the local papers and confirmed face-to-face to the author. When he wrote to Tegni to ask for data to support their assertions about the generating capacity of the Aston Grange project, he was fobbed off with a refusal from Mr Huw Smallwood, MD of Tegni Cymru Cyf, who wrote, "Tegni Cymru Cyf is not a public body as defined under the [Freedom of Information] act and therefore, does not have to comply with a Freedom of Information request". Mr Smallwood went on to say, "This project would deliver large quantities of deep green energy". But he refused to say how much energy would be released because Mike Hall's request was "of a commercial nature". Commenting on Tegni's response, Mr Hall said, "I do not accept that these four proposed wind turbines will produce large amounts of energy. The fact that Tegni Cymru Cyf are refusing to publish the figures shows they have something to hide".

You can read Mr Hall's latest press release on his website, and a quote from last year towards the bottom of this page.

Mr Hall was a valued ally in the Substation Campaign, and contributed greatly to the cross-party effort to defeat Network Rail's application for another industrial eyesore in the Green Belt.

Meanwhile, this website is attracting record numbers of influential visitors showing an interest in the development, or in the catastrophic failure of Vestas turbines. Among them are Weightmans Solicitors, in Liverpool, who have visited these pages several times in the last couple of weeks, and act for many local authorities (among other clients). Gentlemen, if you find something here which your clients might wish to challenge, by all means e-mail us to say so.

Vale Royal's planning officer, Mr Adrian Crowther, had published his Report to the Members of the Planning Committee, recommending that they should APPROVE the application for the wind farm development. You can see the entire report by clicking here and following the long blue link at Part A, Item 2.

This was despite objections from all eight of the Parishes most severely affected. The site is on Green Belt Land and within an Area of Special County Value, and the Weaver Valley Regional Park. The Parish Councils' objections, together with those of the Ramblers' Association, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE Cheshire), British Horse Society, Mid-Cheshire Bridleway Association, Mid-Cheshire Ornithological Society and Cheshire Wildlife Trust have all been swept aside, as have 322 letters and e-mails from members of the public. Genuine concerns about safety and amenity, and the blight on this delightful part of rural Cheshire, apparently counted for nothing.

The Officer's summary admitted that there has been considerable local opposition to the proposed development, that it did not accord with the development plan, and was, by definition, "inappropriate development in the green belt". The Planning Committee formally considered the application on 3. October, and (thankfully) made a more robust defence of their own local and national planning policies, and had more respect for the opinions of their electorate. The Minutes of the committee meeting are now available on the VRBC website.

To see local press coverage, click here!

Previously on Actonbridge.org...

Tegni have been granted permission by VRBC to retain their 50m anemometer mast at Aston Grange. When I asked last year why the developer was already proposing the turbine installation at Aston when the anemometer had only been in place for a short time, Mr Smallwood told me that it was possible to extrapolate from the short period by correlation with Meteorological Office data, so it's hard to see why the anemometer needs to remain in place.

Tegni Cymru Cyf have published their 2005 accounts, showing a net loss of nearly 40% of their already tiny net worth. You can see the numbers here.

In a damning report on the inefficiency of the flagship Scroby Sands offshore windfarm, published by the DTI, the Vestas V80 turbines come in for particular criticism. You can read more on our turbine failure page.

Meanwhile, there was a major defeat for wind power stations in sensitive locations, as the giant Whinash project was turned down. You can read more about the decision on our links and media page.

Yet more interesting visitors have been to our website, many with a direct interest in this application! Click to read more.

Acton Bridge Parish Council's 5. September 2005 meeting included a special Agenda item about the proposal. Mr Richard Ellison of Vale Royal Borough Council addressed the meeting, and representatives of the developer, Tegni Cymru Cyf, and Dulas Limited, stated their case and answered questions. An excellent turnout of between 40 and 50 local residents reinforced the Parish Council's determination to present a fully informed response to the Borough Council in respect of the Planning Application (05-1059-FUM), and the Supplementary Response was sent to the Planning Officer.

Read more about the meeting here.

Following additional detailed representations by Tegni Cymru Cyf, and the eventual publication of a report commissioned by VRBC from Land Use Consultants, the Parish Council was again invited to respond, and has now done so. Interestingly, Land Use Consultants were among many new visitors to this website in recent weeks - they were searching for "vale+royal+borough+council+wind+farm".

Other pages on this website:

Questions and Answers from the Aston School meeting in March 2005;
Acton Bridge meeting September 2005;
Visitors to these web pages with a professional interest in the development;
Alarming reports of catastrophic turbine failures and fires;
Links to media, other campaigns and information;
Tegni Cymru Cyf's statutory accounts, our analysis and commentary.

Off-site links : (these should open a new browser window, and we are not responsible for their content)...

VRBC Report and Agenda for the Planning Committee meeting on 3. October 2006;
VRBC Website with documents relating to the Aston Grange proposal (reference 05-1059-FUM);
Stop Aston Windfarm campaign with link to their Public Meeting on 13. September ;
Ch-ART campaign against the development at Oxheys Farm near Rushton / Tarporley (also within Vale Royal).

The developer, Tegni Cymru Cyf may sound as green as a Welsh valley, but is majority-owned by two German companies, and the high-value equipment would be imported from Vestas A/S in Denmark. Click to read more about Tegni and its finances. Tegni's website was given as www.tegni.co.uk, but when we checked it was not yet functional. We can however bring you some alarming reports of catastrophic failure of wind turbines, and general problems with Vestas installations.

Web site visitors (click to read: they've been moved to a separate page)

Our weekly server log is at record levels, and as a result of improved search engine rankings, more visitors are finding these pages when researching wind turbines and failures, many specifically looking for Tegni and/or Vestas, whose turbine caught fire at the Nissan plant in Sunderland. A side-effect of our on-line campaign against the Aston Grange planning application will be that many visitors find out from us about the unreliability, and even catastrophic failure, of Vestas turbines. This adverse and now internationally-widespread publicity for Tegni Cymru Cyf, together with their German financier and Danish equipment supplier is a direct consequence of their 'inappropriate' choice of site within the Cheshire Green Belt and Designated Areas in the Weaver Valley. Harming our village can seriously harm your business!

The real (proposed) site

The proposed site at Aston Grange is very prominent, and the massive towers and turbine blades would be clearly visible above the skyline to the north-west of Acton Bridge. Neighbouring villages such as Dutton, Crowton and Kingsley would be similarly affected. The National Grid Reference location is largely within square 570770, between Aston Grange Farm and the railway. The developed site area (including a substation, anemometer, telemetry, and keep-out safety zones in case of tower collapse or turbine blade fracture) is about 100 hectares (say 250 acres) and it's just a couple of fields away from the Trent and Mersey Canal (BE12 Historic Environment) Conservation Area as well as the Weaver Valley Area of Special Local Environmental Value. It's hard to imagine a more insensitive choice of site.

This section of the ActonBridge.Org website will develop arguments about the proposed wind 'farm', and the wider issues of taxpayer-subsidised power generation. It's notable that Prime Minister Tony Blair, while publicly supporting renewable energy, put his political weight behind opposition to a wind 'farm' in his own constituency! If he didn't want one in his back yard at Trimdon Grange, why should we have one in ours?

Money talks, Blair listens.The Sunday Times of 22. May 2005 reported on its front page that Nigel Doughty, a venture capitalist, gave Labour £250,000 after a dinner with Tony Blair. Why? His investment company owns LM Glasfiber, the world’s biggest wind turbine [blade?] manufacturer, which is likely to profit from the huge expansion of wind power under Labour. The paper reported that the Government has pushed ahead with plans to construct more than 5,000 wind turbines in remote areas, despite massive local opposition [including from Mr Blair himself!]. Confused? Read more on our Links and Media page.

Meanwhile Weaver Vale MP, Mike Hall, is also opposing his local wind turbines. He's quoted in a Press Release on his website as saying : "I am totally opposed to the proposal [...] on Aston Grange Farm. If granted, these four turbines would have a hugely detrimental effect on the beautiful visual amenity of the Weaver Valley, they would be truly out of character with the countryside environment and they would constitute an unacceptable development in the designated green belt of Vale Royal. When the planning application comes forward I will vigorously oppose it".

What's more, Mike Hall raised the topic in an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons on 24. March 2005, as follows : "Sadly, our fears have come true because Tegni Cymru, the Welsh private electricity company installing the anemometer, has put forward proposals to place four 125-m-high wind turbines on Aston Grange farm. I am determined that we must fight the application when it comes forward, because it would despoil the most beautiful part of my constituency, be a blot on the landscape and represent the loss of a superb visual amenity. Having fought the proposals by Network Rail and the National Grid Company to put a substation and trackside feeder station on the green belt in Weaverham and Acton Bridge in my constituency, I will do all that I can to ensure that that planning application goes no further forward."

Mike Hall was very influential in the defeat of the substation Application, so his public statement on the wind 'farm' is most encouraging.

You can also read an announcement on the Vale Royal website (this is an external link - scroll down!).

Now please visit our Aston FAQ page or the new wind power links and media page.

Site directory Click on the house for ActonBridge.Org Home Page Home page Website ©
[Site directory]