Defence chiefs have withdrawn their objections to a planned wind farm at the test track of car manufacturer Lotus after deciding that it would not pose a threat to national security after all.
The claim by the MOD that the three 120m high turbines would cause “unacceptable interference” to the air defence radar at Trimingham – 32 miles away on the north Norfolk coast – was the main reason why district planners rejected the scheme in November last year.
And the U-turn has delighted green energy company Ecotricity, which proposed the development, and Lotus who are keen to reduce their carbon footprint by generating enough electricity to meet all the needs of their Hethel site.
MOD spokesman Pragati Baddhan told the Mercury: “The MOD has withdrawn its objection to the Lotus wind farm proposal following a detailed re-appraisal which found that the effect on radar performance at Trimingham is manageable.
“We are always willing to seek and agree mitigating factors to allow wind farms and if a mutually accepted solution can be found, then MOD would withdraw existing objections.”
The decision holds out a ray of hope for other renewable energy companies whose wind farms have run into opposition because they are in line of sight of military radar.
However, Ms Baddhan said there has been no change in overall policy regarding the issue.
“Each wind farm proposal is considered on a case by case basis. MOD is fully supportive of the Government’s Renewable Energy targets and objections to wind farms are only raised where such action is considered vital to adequately protect MOD interests, she explained.
She said they were not aware of any other schemes in the region where objections had been raised because the turbines could affect the performance of defence radar.
An Ecotricity spokesman said it was very pleased with the MOD’s decision, and would be considering all its options.
A campaign group has been set up to fight the Hethel wind farm, with local landowners, farmers, companies and residents among those claiming their lives will be blighted by the giant structures.
South Norfolk councillors refused consent on the grounds of the MOD’s opposition and the visual impact on the countryside.
5 March 2008
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