AN ENERGY company is to halve the size of a proposed power plant and set up a £50,000-a-year fund for green projects in a bid to win over residents in Blackrod.

Blue NG, which is yet to put in a planning application to Bolton Council, wants to build a green power plant in Dark Lane that could power 85,000 homes.

The centre will use vegetable oil to create enough energy to power the equivalent of three quarters of all Bolton households.

The company has earmarked the existing pumping station and three acres of neighbouring greenbelt land for the development.

But after consulting with residents, the firm has decided to pull back on its plans to build a plant capable of powering up to 45,000 houses which have drawn widespread anger from local residents and green campaigners.

About 200 people packed into Blackrod Community Centre on Tuesday night for a presentation from Blue NG at the Two Towns Area Forum.

At the meeting Richard Lyddon from Blue NG said the company had listened to feedback and will halve the size of the plant.

He revealed the firm also plans to set up a low carbon fund, with a panel including councillors and local people, to decide how the money is spent.

He said: “The money put into the fund will be not less than £50,000 a year, for the lifetime of the plant which is 25 years.

“It would be a way of saying sorry we have come into your green belt, here is something back.”

But angry residents at the meeting criticised the move and said the company was trying to buy the green belt land.

John Price, chairman of the Blackrod and Horwich Environmental Action Group, said: “I admire your offer of recompense to the community, but some people might say that is buying the planning application.”

Residents raised concerns about lorries turning on the busy A6 which has seen numerous accidents. Blue NG proposes to put a solar powered sign which will warn of lorries turning.

Recent fires at local recycling companies were also raised, and residents were concerned as the plant will be operated remotely. But they were reassured that the oil being used is not a hazardous substance and is difficult to ignite.