Fallago Rig public inquiry continues
The Ministry of Defence have voiced serious concerns about the proposed windfarm development at Fallago Rig.
Giving his precognition during the second week of the public inquiry into the application by North British Windpower, Squadron Leader Neal Henley, Staff Officer for National and NATO Command Control Capability, said that even though there is 70km between the site in the Lammermuirs and an air defence radar head at RAF Brizlee Wood, near Alnwick, there was still a substantial risk that a windfarm development could disrupt air defences.
He described the “significant adverse impact,” any turbines could have on radar signals and stated that of the 48 turbines earmarked for Fallago Rig, 35 are calculated to be in the line of sight of the air defence radar.
He added: “Furthermore the applicant hasn’t demonstrated, and the MoD are not aware of any means by which the adverse effects of the development can be mitigated either operationally or technically.”
Squadron Leader Henley told Reporter Karen Heywood and others present at the inquiry at Duns Volunteer Hall that traditionally the primary role of air surveillance and control systems has been to detect aircraft flying into the UK from overseas.
However, since the terrorist attack on New York in 2001, equal if not more importance is now given to monitoring overland UK airspace to detect, track and respond to aircraft which cause concern.
In his precognition, Squadron Leader Henley described how wind turbines effectively created a “hole” in radar coverage and concluded: “The Ministry of Defence is extremely concerned with any proposed development which would degrade radar capability.”
The evidence given by Squadron Leader Henley contrasted to the views put across by Michael Watson, appearing on behalf of the applicant North British Windpower.
Mr Watson, a chartered engineer and owner of the firm Pager Power Ltd, who are involved in assessing the effects of wind turbines on radars and aviation operations, said that any effects of a development at Fallago Rig would be “minimal and mitigated by normal procedures.”
To support his evidence Mr Watson told the inquiry that any windfarm at Fallago Rig would only delay detection by a few kilometres and that any effects on air surveillance will be marginal and not significant.
He also drew on the fact that there are existing operational farms of similar design to Fallago Rig which lie in sight of Brizlee Wood and claimed that the MoD have not provided any evidence with regard to the actual effect of those developments on their operations.
He concluded: “I do not believe that the state of the UK’s air defence capability is such that any limited effects of Fallago Rig could represent any significant prejudice to National Security.”
So far the inquiry has heard evidence from a number of sources including landscape architects, and a representative from Roxburgh Estates, who said that any potential windfarm would have “significant economic benefits,” and said in their opinion these outweigh any disadvantages.
In the coming week, representatives from Scottish Borders Council and local community councils will get the opportunity to put their views across, with the ultimate decision on whether the windfarm goes ahead resting with the Scottish Government.
To date permission has been granted for 207 turbines in six different locations in the Lammermuir Hills, with 73 having been built so far.
By Simon Duke
13 February 2008
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