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Airport move plan hits windfarm snag  

An unlikely obstacle has emerged in the potential move of Marshall’s out of Cambridge.

Wind farms may be an eco-friendly way of producing energy but their presence can cause havoc in the world of aviation.

According to chiefs at Cambridge Airport, wind farms can interfere with radar across a distance of up to 40 miles. The two feasible locations for the aerospace giant’s move away from Cambridge are Wyton and Mildenhall
* but wind farms are planned in the vicinity of both.

David Buckley, airport director, highlighted the issue at the latest meeting of the Cambridge City Airport Consultative Committee.

He said: “We don’t have a problem with wind farms in general but there is a problem with the effect they have on radar. This is why you may see us objecting to proposals. I think this will cause a serious problem for relocation
* in a busy airspace such as this with fast jets flying around you can’t take chances. However, there is a technical solution which can overcome this. I would expect this to be achieved within the next 10 years.”

In 2002 the Ministry of Defence blocked five of the UK’s 18 proposed offshore wind farms amid fears they would interfere with military aviation radar.

The MoD said the problem lies with the rotating blades which can cause interference on radar. This makes it difficult to pick out aircraft flying close to wind turbines. Studies have also claimed turbines can create a radar shadow, where planes would be invisible.

A wind farm, consisting of 15 turbines, is planned at Boxworth and Conington, just 10 miles from Wyton, and another, featuring 13 turbines, is proposed near West Wratting, 18 miles away from Mildenhall.

The MoD and the Department of Trade and Industry began trials in June this year for new technology designed to overcome interference from wind farms.

The technology involves a processor which could still track flights among the “radar clutter” caused by spinning blades in windfarms. The trial process is ongoing.

No-one from RAF Mildenhall was available for comment.


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