The safety and security of aircraft using RAF Leuchars airbase could be jeopardised if the proposed five-turbine windfarm at Gathercauld, Ceres, is given the go-ahead.
That’s the view of the Ministry of Defence’s head of safeguarding, Julian Chafer, who said the MoD has decided that it cannot withdraw its objection to the plan.
However, it has agreed to meet the windfarm developers EnergieKontor again, to see if there is any way round the situation.
Mr Chafer said a plantation of trees at St Andrews Wells would not provide enough screening to prevent radar signals from being affected.
He said a team from RAF Leuchars had carried out an exercise in a Gazelle helicopter hovering at various sites above the trees.
“The conclusion is that the wood does not provide an adequate screen against the proposed turbines, so I am unable to lift the MOD’s objection to the planning application,” said Mr Chafer.
In an earlier statement of objection sent to Fife Council’s planning service, the safeguarding team said the turbines – which would be 80 metres high – “will cause unmanageable interference to the air traffic control (ATA) radar . . . and that all but one would be in direct line of sight of the ATA radar.”
The rotating turbines would appear like a solid moving object similar to aircraft and it would be very difficult for air traffic controllers to distinguish between a genuine radar return from a moving aircraft and the rotating turbine blade.
The news of the MoD objection was welcomed by Graham Lang, chairman of Ceres and District Environment and Amenity Protection Group, who said the arguments backed the group’s own case that the development would have a negative impact on the area.
“EnergieKontor seems to routinely apply for windfarms in locations that they must know are problematic for MoD radar installations,” he said.
By Lindsey Quinn
14 February 2008
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