RAF defence experts have made strong objections to a proposed 18 turbine wind farm at Middlemoor, near North Charlton, as a public inquiry continued this week.
The Ministry of Defence is concerned the 125 metre high turbines would be in direct line of sight with and create unacceptable interference with the air defence radar at Brizlee Wood, near Alnwick.
Squadron Leader Chris Breedon, one of the country’s leading air defence experts speaking on behalf of the MoD, raised serious concerns about the possible effects of the turbines on national security.
He said: “The 18 wind turbines would be in direct line of sight of the radar at RRH Brizlee Wood, an important element of the UK Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS).
“In that location they have a significant and unacceptable impact on the efficacy of the radar at Brizlee Wood. The RAF relies on the radar facility at Brizlee Wood in carrying out its vital functions of air surveillance and weapons control.”
He explained that trials had been carried out which found wind turbines create a ‘hole’ in radar coverage with the result that aircraft flying overhead would not be detectable.
“This has an impact on both air surveillance and weapons control,” explained Sq Ldr Breedon. “Essentially if an aircraft cannot be seen by the controller he cannot provide information on it to other aircraft under his control. This could lead to the breaking of the safe separation criteria and result in an air miss at best and a collision at worst.
“In summary, the trial results showed that wind turbines in direct line of sight of radar have a very serious impact on the RAF’s ability to carry out its functions. Given the importance of this facility to the air defence of the UK, the proposed wind farm will unacceptably compromise that air defence.”
Sq Ldr Matt Wood from ASACS based at RAF Boulmer, added: “The ASACS has received firm direction from the Chief of the Defence Staff on the minimum military requirement for surveillance coverage and our objections to wind turbine developments are a direct result.”
The MoD’s stance will encourage wind farm protesters who hope inquiry inspector Alan Novitzky will back Alnwick District Council’s opposition to the scheme.However, npower renewables advocate Marcus Trinick has accused the MoD of “ambushing” the inquiry with new evidence. He also raised several instances of local wind farm proposals where the MoD had not objected on radar grounds, but on low-flying issues.
Those objections had been withdrawn, he contended, only to be replaced at the last minute with concerns about the possible effects on radar.
He argued that with the Wandylaw wind farm application heard at Berwick Borough Council, which was ultimately rejected by the planning committee, the MoD made no objections until the day before the committee was due to sit. He reasoned that the MoD knew there was a radar line of sight between Wandylaw and Brizlee Wood for some time before that objection was made and now the same objections were being presented with regard to Middlemoor.
The inquiry in Alnwick’s Northumberland Hall continues until November 30.
22 November 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding