In a week reminding us of the importance of air safety several reported cases emphasise the apparent continued irresponsibility of those wishing to erect wind turbines. Not only are they prepared to build machines that kill bats and birds, they also want to put them where human life could be lost.
A public inquiry in Northumberland heard how the risk of air collisions would increase if plans to build 59 wind turbines close to three radars were approved. Both the Ministry of Defence and Newcastle International Airport claim the turbines would affect radars, adding to the risk of collisions for pilots and passengers.
Yet the turbine company accused them of offering the “very feeblest and most insubstantial of smokescreens”.
Just what do wind companies consider to be robust and substantial grounds to refuse an application if it is not the very sanctity of human life?
In another case, Breckland councillors refused permission for six more turbines in the Swaffham area after hearing they could compromise national security due to their impact on radar at RAF Marham.
The wind company asked for conditions to be imposed to overcome these concerns – how arrogant can they get? Auspiciously Defence Estates said these would be unreasonable and unenforceable.
Not long ago a proposed wind development placed the defence of the realm in jeopardy. This too was apparently deemed inconsequential as the wind company tried overturning the sensible decision preventing this happening. Fortunately the minister of the day disagreed and refused the application.
Last year Defence Estates belatedly noted the danger from 22 turbines proposed for Fullabrook Down, North Devon, demanding they be illuminated for safety purposes – adding light pollution to hilltop desecration. This will happen if North Devon District Council doesn’t manage to have the wind farm thrown out by judicial review.
Meanwhile Ecotricity, following refusal for it to build five turbines at Brent Knoll, Somerset, says it will continue to try to build in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. What part of “no” from the inspector’s decision doesn’t it understand?
Finally, a vast new population of common scoters discovered off the North Wales coast may affect future planning decisions on siting offshore wind farms. Previously all 79,000 of these birds were not known to be there. One wonders what kind of wind farm ecology survey failed to miss them, as each bird is the size of a duck – but then, myopic wind farmers don’t seem to see aeroplanes either.
24 January 2008
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