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Turbines 'could be threat to economy of region'

The economic growth of the region would be affected if a windfarm was built, according to a former Government economist.

The evidence was heard on the 20th day of the Humberhead Levels Windfarm Inquiry into two proposed windfarms in northern Lincolnshire.The submission was given by Stephen Nicol, managing director of Regeneris Consulting – a specialist economic and regeneration consultancy – on behalf of Doncaster Sheffield Robin Hood Airport.

His summary was based on evidence by Barry Hawkins, a former air traffic controller, which demonstrated the number of aircraft which the airport could handle would be reduced.

According to Mr Hawkins, the radar systems would be affected by ‘clutter’ caused by the 34 windturbines proposed by Renewable Energy Systems (RES) between Keadby and Crowle.

Aircraft approaching from the east of the airport would be masked by the clutter, meaning only one could pass through the windfarm site at any time – consequently reducing the volume of traffic the airport could handle.

This, explained Mr Nicol would affect the planned growth of the airport.

Reading from his summary of proofs of evidence, Mr Nicol said: “Robin Hood Airport has, as yet, far from reached its full economic potential.

“The development of these two windfarm proposals would be highly detrimental to the achievement of the employment and regeneration impacts of Robin Hood Airport – which were the main reason it was given planning permission in 2003.

“Under the current planning permission, I now estimate that the eventual full economic impact of Robin Hood Airport could be to create between 6,400 and 6,800 jobs in the main impact area by 2014.”

He added: “The direct on-site employment at Robin Hood Airport could be between 9,000 and 10,000 by 2030 and the overall impact between 10,000 to 13,000 jobs in the main impact area (surrounding vicinity).

“In addition, there would be catalytic impacts from the better connectivity offered by the airport, or in other words increased access helps businesses in the area.”

However, Mr Nicol’s findings were brought into question by Andrew Newcombe QC, representing RES.

He explained how Mr Nicol’s figures were based on all approaching aircraft coming from the east and therefore passing through the proposed site.

Also Mr Newcombe said the growth of the airport was not just based on the number of flights in and out, but the average size of the passenger planes.

He pointed out if the plane size increased – which the runway is capable of handling, he explained – then expansion would still be possible.

The windfarm inquiry continues at 10am on Tuesday at the Vikings Hotel, Western Road, Goole.


10 February 2007