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Hospital turbine plan setback  

Plans for an 80m high wind turbine in the grounds of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn look set to be refused following objections from defence chiefs at RAF Marham.

The hospital wants to be the first public sector organisation in the country to be powered by green energy from its own turbine and health chiefs have been working with renewable energy company Ecotricity on the plans.

But the efforts to go green look set to be thwarted after West Norfolk Council received an objection to the £1m turbine from the Defence Estates.

They told the council: “The turbine will cause unacceptable interference to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at RAF Marham.

“Following trials carried out in 2005, it has been concluded that wind turbines can affect the probability of detection of aircraft flying over or in the vicinity of wind turbines.

“Due to this the RAF would be unable to provide a full Air Traffic Radar Service in the area of the proposed wind farm.”

The Marham Wing is one of the largest and busiest in the RAF, operating four Squadrons of Tornado GR4 aircraft in the attack and reconnaissance roles. In addition, the station is home to a number of other key RAF units.

A Defence Estates spokeswoman said last night: “The MoD fully supports the government’s renewable energy policies and targets.

“Objections to wind farms are only raised where such action is considered vital to adequately protect MoD interests. MoD will always do what is practicable to work with wind energy developers to find mutually acceptable solutions wherever possible.”

Sterling Aviation which operates the East Anglian Air Ambulance has also raised concerns that this could also affect safe flight operations when landing on the helicopter pad at the hospital.

Four letters of objection have also been sent raising concerns over issues such as visual impact, the closeness to residential dwellings and concerns in relation to noise, shadow flicker and health issues.

The turbine would be used to provide energy to the hospital and also to feed in to the national grid, but would stand prominently on the site parallel with the main A149 road.

Dale Vince, managing director of Ecotricity, said last night: “The two objections currently raised to the QEH project can both be resolved in a few weeks. Both of the bodies that have raised these complaints have written to the council to support our application and confirm that their issues can be resolved in a short time.

“It’s up to the council now. We’re asking to delay the decision by just a few weeks to allow the objections to be overcome. We hope the council will see this as a sensible way to resolve the issue.”

The report concluded: “In summary it is acknowledged there is clear support for an undisputed need for more renewable energy sources.

“However in this instance it is considered that the objections raised by representatives of the air ambulance service and the Defence Estates are fundamental and have not been satisfactorily resolved.”

Officers are recommending that the application is turned down when councillors meet on Monday for the development control board meeting.

Nicki Walker

Eastern Daily Press

24 April 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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