A ST Helens farmer is fighting to save one of the town’s best-loved beauty spots from being “decimated” by a controversial development.
David Melling says picturesque Maddocks Farm, in Kings Moss, which has been in his family since 1928, will be “split in two” if energy secretary Chris Huhne gives a proposed Kirkby-Orrell electricity line the green light.
Plans for the line, which could see a dozen tall wooden poles and an overhead line installed on the 74-year-old’s 140-acre Pimbo Road farm, were initially knocked back by St Helens Council.
But re-submitted plans have since been given the thumbs-up - subject to a report into the possible impact of the line on wintering pink-footed geese.
Mr Melling, who is being backed by Rainford councillor Allan Jones, told the Reporter: “I know I’m biased, but I think that of all the region’s beauty spots - this one is the nicest. We’re not opposed to the supply of electricity. We just want the line to run underground.
“We’ve already got a power line running over our land, which has been here since the 1950s, but that one doesn’t impact on our day-to-day work. The new one would effectively split our farm in two and affect our use of modern farm machinery - we would constantly have to work around the poles.
“But the plan is to fetch the 1950s power line underground and the new one overhead - it doesn’t make any sense.
“The new line would also affect the pink-footed geese that feed here every winter. We can’t just stand by and let our local countryside be decimated.”
The St Helens stretch of the power line is proposed to run along the Rainford Bypass, underground around Mill Lane and Higher Lane, onto a neighbouring farm and then overhead near popular hiking trails as it stretches up towards Orrell.
A final decision is expected to be be made in the next few weeks by energy secretary Chris Huhne.
But, in the meantime, Mr Melling has joined forces with several neighbours to send opposition letters to Mr Huhne, local government secretary Eric Pickles and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
He added: “Anyone who comes up here will realise instantly what an impact this power line would have. Putting it overhead would be detrimental to the landscape across this whole area, not just our farm.
“We’ve already got three underground pipelines running across our farm, but I defy anyone to spot where they are. Regardless of the cost implications, the new line should be put underground too.”
A spokesman for Electricity North West said: “We have carried out a full consultation with the planning authorities and with all affected landowners and have adjusted our plans where possible to cause minimum disruption and reduce any environmental impact.
“The new line is essential because we need to reinforce the network to ensure security of electricity supplies to a large number of consumers.
“We will ensure that the line is built and maintained in line with all legislation and safety requirements. The Department for Energy and Climate Change is currently consulting Natural England on the plans.”