'BACK DOOR' BID FOR GAS PLANT; New Application despite Victory by Residents in Planning Row

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Byline: Stephen Rylance

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a gas storage plant in Cheshire which were recently rejected could still be given the goahead, protesters fear.

The proposal was dismissed after the county council received a barrage of complaints.

But tomorrow councillors will hear the second half of Scottish Power's initial application to store gas in giant underground caverns at the site near the village of Byley, close to Middlewich.

And opponents believe that if it is granted a hazardous substances licence for the site the company will launch an appeal against the original decision by the authority.

Council officers have already recommended that Scottish Power's application to store natural gas in nine huge caves should be approved and have told councillors that their earlier refusal has no bearing on the second part of the application.

Residents Against the Plant (RAP), was set up to fight the proposal to site the plant in the village and last night a spokesman said they were shocked to learn of Scottish Power's latest plan.

John Halstead, a chartered engineer from Cranage, said they had been unaware of the application and feared that its approval could prove a way of gaining permission for the scheme "through the back door."

He said: "This is very worrying and we will certainly be making representations to the committee on Tuesday.

"We hope the committee looks again at our arguments that this proposal pushes the limits of safety and will release thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. …