PLANS for a gas storage facility in Northwich have been thrown out.

Opponents slept soundly for the first time in more than a year after planners at Cheshire County Council rejected the application for Lach Dennis on Monday.

King Street Energy Ltd wanted to build a 10-cavity storage plant on land off King Street, complete with a 58km pipeline between Bromborough near the Wirral and the site.

Water would have been pumped from the River Mersey and used to carve out the salt caverns before being pumped back into the estuary as a briney solution.

But local action group Residents Against Gas Storage (RAGS), argued that the site’s countryside location made it wholly unsuitable and not sustainable because of the loss of salt – a valuable mineral resource – it would involve.

Member Wayne Ranger, who spoke on behalf of the action group at the meeting in Chester said: “The development was deemed intrusive and unsuited to the area.

“The process of creating cavities involved dumping nearly nine million tonnes of salt in the cleaned-up Mersey estuary.

“We are thrilled with the outcome. It was considered the project wasted an important mineral which should be kept available for future generations.

“This and the obliteration of a peice of beautiful open countryside were considered contrary to Government guidelines.”

King Street Energy Ltd could now appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol to have the decision overturned but Wayne said RAGS is ready to fight again if necessary.

“We have come this far and we will carry on until people see that this kind of facility has no place in the countryside,” he said.