The Ministry of Defence was last night coming under increasing pressure to stop objecting to wind turbines as green campaigners tried to stifle the department’s powerful planning voice.
Greenpeace and the British Wind Energy Association have both repeated calls for the MoD to halt objections to turbines after figures revealed 44 wind farms have been delayed or cancelled because of radar concerns.
The MoD has already opposed at least four wind farms in Northumberland, saying they make it impossible to detect aircraft flying overhead.
Tynedale Council is currently depending on MoD support to scupper three wind farms which would see 59 turbines built north of Hexham.
A planning inquiry into the three sites has heard MoD evidence in which it was claimed the projects represent a risk to low-flying RAF planes over Northumberland.
And a lengthy planning battle is also ongoing at Middlemoor near Alnwick following an MoD objection to plans for 18 turbines.
Now the armed forces have been asked to work around radar concerns and to stop looking for reasons to object.
Environmental group Greenpeace has accused defence chiefs of holding back progress on the Government’s ambitious plans to tackle global warming.
Senior climate campaigner Robin Oakley said: “Last week Gordon Brown made it clear that climate change presents a defining threat to our national security, so why is the MoD presenting one of the biggest challenges to ending our dependence on fossil fuels?
“If the Government is truly committed to tackling climate change, then it must stop its own departments from objecting to vital new projects like wind farms.
“Britain’s armed forces are respected worldwide for their problem-solving ability; instead of standing in the way of progress, our defence chiefs should be implementing the solutions.”
The British Wind Energy Association has warned that wind farms, crucial to the UK in hitting its renewable energy targets, are being held up by the planning process.
By 2020 the UK must source 15% of its energy from renewable sources and cut CO2 emissions by 16% in response to challenging targets set by the European Commission.
The British Wind Energy Association insists these targets will not be met if military objections keep being cited on wind proposals.
The MoD said all applications were dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Defence Minister Derek Twigg told MPs recently: “The Ministry of Defence fully supports the Government’s renewable energy policies, considers each development proposal on a case-by-case basis and only objects where absolutely essential.
“To assist developers and avoid unnecessary expenditure, MoD operates a pre-planning consultation system.
“We are always ready to consider mitigation measures, for example, changing height or number of turbines or slightly changing their location where mutually agreeable if that would allow a development to go forward.”
By Adrian Pearson
25 March 2008
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