August 10, 2007

Windfarm shut down pledge over radar fears

Proposed wind turbines at Gathercauld, near Ceres, would be shut down if they affected the radar at RAF Leuchars, the company behind the project said this week.

EnergieKontor has written to Fife Council saying it was willing for a planning condition to that effect to be part of its five-turbine windfarm project.

The letter from EnergieKontor general manager Judith Cornfield was in response to Ministry of Defence concerns the turbines would cause “unmanageable interference” to the air traffic control radar at the airbase.

Jon Wilson, of the Defence Estates safeguarding team, said all but one of the turbines would be in direct line of sight of the radar to some degree.

“Where rotating turbine blades are visible to a radar they will create radar returns which can appear as a solid moving object similar to an aircraft,” said Mr Wilson.

“The proposed development could therefore inhibit the use of the radar controlled air traffic approaches to RAF Leuchars and degrade the safety of both civilian and military aircraft in this area.”

But Ms Cornfield said the line of sight would be blocked by both terrain and shielding by the wood at St Andrews Wells, as described in the windfarm’s environmental impact assessment.

“EnergieKontor have a legal agreement whereby trees in the
wood cannot be lopped, pruned or felled during the life of the windfarm and trees may be replaced with new mature trees if necessary,” she said.

“EnergieKontor are also willing to enter into a planning condition whereby if the trees in the wood should be damaged (e.g. by wind or fire) such that the wind turbines at Gathercauld do affect the radar at RAF Leuchars then the turbines will be switched off until the shielding due to the trees has been restored.”

Mr Wilson said the land controlled by EnergieKontor might contain sites where turbines could be built and operated without causing unacceptable radar interference.

“The MOD is willing to work with the applicant to try to identify and assess alternative locations for the turbine to enable this development scheme to proceed.”

The Gathercauld windfarm application has attracted hundreds of objections from groups and individuals.

By Janet Howie

Fife Today

9 August 2007

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