November 21, 2007

Wind Farm Inquiry Day 5 — Afternoon

Surprise has been expressed over the way Ministry of Defence top brass “dramatically” objected to wind farm plans at Middlemoor and neighbouring Wandylaw.

Giving rebuttal evidence against the RAF on Tuesday afternoon, npower renewables’ head of consents John Ainslie said the reasons for their objections had only become apparent at the last moment.

RAF radar expert Sqd Ldr Chris Breedon had earlier told the inquiry how the proposed turbines at Middlemoor were too close to the remote radar head at Brizlee Wood, and would effectively blind the unit.

This, he said, had become apparent two months ago, following the conclusion of flight tests carried out near a working wind farm.

But the applications have been in the pipeline for at least five years.

Referring to a letter of objection issued in October by the MoD concerning Wandylaw, Mr Ainslie said: “The letter appears to constitute a dramatic shift from a stance of no objection to one of object due to unacceptable interference.

“Why this objection should have arisen so late in the consultation, submission and determination of the Wandylaw proposal is not explained.

“Indeed, the letter is dated the day immediately before the planning committee meeting, and was clearly designed to substantially influence the decision at that meeting.”

He added: “No other aviation interest, including the Civil Aviation Authority, has maintained an objection to Middlemoor wind farm on grounds related to interference with provision of air traffic control services.

“There is widespread experience elsewhere of compatibility between wind farms and the provision of radar-based services, including at military bases.”

Northumberland Gazette

20 November 2007

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