PLANS for a 40-mile pipeline stretching from Wirral into Cheshire have been rejected by Cheshire County Council.

The council's Development Regulatory Committee turned down the ambitious scheme to build two pipelines from Bromborough to Northwich - stretching over 58 kilometres - to create nine caverns to store natural gas.

The King Street Gas Storage Project aimed to help meet Government priorities in creating stores of gas for the 20 million homes nationally which rely on it for cooking and heating.

It would have seen water from the Mersey piped to Northwich to dissolve salt and create the underground caverns in which the gas would be stored.

The resulting salty water would be piped back into the Mersey, pumping 8.6 million tonnes of salt into the estuary over seven years.

Representatives of the company King Street Energy Limited, Lach Dennis Parish Council and local residents addressed the committee at Monday night's meeting.

An officer’s report stated that two pumping stations were required to pump water in from the Mersey Estuary and pump brine out into the estuary and a further pumping station was needed half way along the route at East Clifton, Frodsham.

The pipeline would take 12 to 15 months to construct with a number of sites along the route working simultaneously.

There were 92 letters of objection to the King Street application while the pipeline application attracted 43 letters of objection.

County Councillor Peter Nurse said: “These are complicated applications.

“I would prefer if this application was based in the caverns where salt has already been taken out.

“I’m concerned the most about the brine and the point has been made that that this application is not sustainable development.

“There is also a concern about gas storage which is a national issue which matters to consumers and employers.

“I’m prepared to accept that this recommendation will go to appeal and then it is up to the Secretary of State to make the final decision.”

Both applications were refused by the Development Regulatory Committee by seven votes to one on the grounds that they were contrary to the Regional Spatial Strategy, the Cheshire Replacement Minerals Local Plan and the Vale Royal Borough Local Plan.

Chairman Barrie Hardern told committee members: “I find myself worrying considerably about the national need for gas and the local situation and I do not like the thought that the County Council should be thought of as ‘nymby’s’ .

“We represent the people of Cheshire and have to have in the forefront of our mind the people we represent.”

The proposals were for twin 60cm wide pipe-lines sunk in a trench two metres deep, which would be routed through Wirral International Business Park and passing under part of Eastham Country Park, at a Site of Biological Importance.

From there it would cross Eastham Lodge Golf Course before following the A41 New Chester Road. It would run through Torr Recreation Ground, and cross Ferry Road, Rivacre Road, over fields to Junction 5 of the M53 and on to Frodsham, where a pumping station would help the water on its way to and from Northwich.