Campaigners against the Kyle Wind Farm have vowed to continue the fight despite the shock withdrawal of a key objector.
The National Air Traffic Service, (NATS), agreed a last-minute deal on Friday with developers AMEC, four days before the Public Inquiry into the scheme which began yesterday, February 20.
If the plans are approved, AMEC has agreed to suspend building wind turbines to the north of the development, in the Dalmellington area, until new radar technology has been introduced.
However, the Chronicle has seen a document from the Civil Aviation Authority, (CAA), which is being submitted to the Inquiry. It states that the potential solutions to deal with the problem of ‘clutter’ i.e., interference with air traffic signals by the giant turbines, are ‘not at a mature enough stage.’
Commenting on the surprise move by NATS, local campaigner Mark Gibson said:
“The most important thing is that the CAA, who are responsible for air safety at Prestwick Airport, and the airport operators, are maintaining their objections. I think this shouldn’t alter things and we’re determined to brush this off and maintain our fight against the plans.”
Local councillor Elaine Stewart added: “I’m disappointed that NATS have withdrawn their complaints at such a late stage as they were key objectors.
However, we’re fighting on as it’s not only our future we’re looking at but the lives of the kids out there campaigning against this, who, if it goes ahead, will suffer for the next 30 years.”
A joint statement between the two organisations said: “Following constructive discussions between AMEC and NATS … the parties have agreed a way forward that satisfies NATS’ concerns. As a result, AMEC will move forward on the basis that the construction of a number of the proposed wind turbines, including all of those in the north of the development, will be suspended until new radar technology, aimed at resolving the potential conflicts between wind turbines and aviation radar, has been introduced at Lowther Hill.”
David Hodkinson, managing director of AMEC’s wind energy business, said:
“We have worked closely with NATS and are pleased to have reached an agreement that enables them to withdraw their objection. We remain in close dialogue with Prestwick Airport in relation to their concerns about the Kyle development.”
Mark Asquith, Head of Operational Policy, NATS said: “Safety is NATSÂ¹ overriding priority and we are delighted that we have agreed a resolution with AMEC that ensures the integrity of our air traffic control systems.Â² The CAA precognition document states: “Although there are potential solutions under development, which may address wind turbine clutter, these are not at a mature enough stage for CAA to comment on their suitability.”
The statement went on: “Mindful of proliferation issues, the development must also be considered in light of the impact of those wind turbine developments already built or approved for construction in the local operating area.”
The CAA also commented that structures that are regarded as a hazard to air navigation need to be lit, leaving one campaigner to comment that “Dalmellington will be better lit than the Blackpool illuminations if it goes ahead.”
The Public Inquiry is expected to last for three weeks.
By Jamie Cossar
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