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‘Secret radar deals’ could pave way for wind farms  

Credit:  Teesdale Mercury, www.teesdalemercury.co.uk 3 October 2011 ~~

Concerns have been raised that a secret deal for energy companies to buy radars for the military could pave the way for more wind farms in the dale.
Turbines can interfere with existing radar systems, and the move has been made to overcome military objections to developments.
Campaigners in Teesdale fought an 18-month battle to halt a project to build a wind farm at Bolam.
And RWE NPower Renewables dropped its plans for seven 125-metre turbines when the Ministry of Defence (MoD) raised concerns about the effects on its radar capabilities at RAF Leeming.
Tests show that wind turbines, whose spinning blades are about the same size as a passenger jet wing, disrupt the radar systems currently in place and confuse operators and air traffic controllers.
Energy companies have now struck a behind-the-scenes deal to buy new £20million mobile radar systems that are not affected by turbines, the Daily Telegraph has reported.
The deal with a US arms company has raised fears that new wind farm plans could be developed – or that shelved schemes could be resurrected.
The devices will mostly be paid for by the energy companies themselves, the Telegraph reports.
The Bolam Area Action Group (BAAG) was formed by locals to fight wind farm plans for their community.
“Naturally, we are concerned and we are watching the situation carefully,” a spokesperson for BAAG said.
“If this obstacle is removed then there’s a threat that the wind turbines could return. It opens up the possibility again – not just here but elsewhere.
“We are still here, ticking over and we haven’t lowered our guard. Everything is in place until the threat has gone completely.”
When it announced that it had shelved its plans, RWE Npower Renewables maintained that Bolam is a “good place for a wind farm”.
The Mercury asked the company if it had played any part in the radar deal, or if it has plans to resurrect the Stobhill project.
A company spokesperson said: “The results of the site investigations and environmental surveys indicate that, while the Stobhill site is a good place for a wind farm, new information from the Ministry of Defence concerning a radar at nearby RAF Leeming has meant that RWE npower renewables feel it would not be sensible to progress the scheme further at present.”
The Hamsterley and Upper Gaunless Action Group (Hugag) was formed to oppose plans to erect turbines in the area.
Banks Developments plans to build up to nine turbines, each 125 metres tall, on farmland between the village of Woodland and Hamsterley Forest.
Hugag supporter Jonathan Peacock said the military had made no objections to ‘Windy Bank’ project.
But he said the prices energy companies are willing to pay for the radars illustrates how “driven” they are to generate potentially lucrative returns.
“The subsidies wind turbines attract are so extraordinary, with Government guaranteed returns of 16 per cent,” he said.
“If a developer is looking at a big wind farm then they will certainly be able to write a cheque for that amount.”
According to reports, the first of the new mobile radars is a Lockheed Martin TPS-77, which will be delivered and installed in November at Trimingham in Norfolk, to overcome military objections about offshore wind farms.
And another deal will see a second unit installed in the Border region.
In June, a new memorandum of understanding was signed by the British Wind Power Energy Association and Government departments, including the MoD, the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority, to address concerns about implications for radar coverage.
The memorandum estimates that about 4,500 wind turbines will be built onshore in the next decade.

Source:  Teesdale Mercury, www.teesdalemercury.co.uk 3 October 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.


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