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QEH turbine blown out by MoD fears?

Military and air ambulance objections could outweigh the green energy advantages of a proposed wind turbine at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The turbine could save the hospital £20,000 a year on its electricity bill but there are fears it would interfere with radar equipment at RAF Marham and endanger landings on the helipad paid for by Lynn News readers.

The proposed site for the 80-metre high wind turbine – 20 metres lower than the EcoTech turbine at Swaffham – is the north-eastern corner of the hospital grounds near the Al49.

West Norfolk development control board will hear on Monday that the main aim of the turbine would be to provide energy for the hospital, although it could produce a surplus for the National Grid.

Applicants Ecotricity and QEH also view the project as an important contribution to making West Norfolk a more sustainable borough and achieving renewable energy targets.

Objectors include Defence Estates, who point out that the turbine would be in the line of sight of air traffic control radar at RAF Marham.

Although the air base is 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) away, unacceptable interference would be caused.

Defence Estates, part of the MoD, said: “Following trials in 2005, it was concluded that wind turbines can affect the detection of aircraft flying over or in the vicinity of wind turbines.”

The RAF could be unable to provide a full air traffic radar service in the area of the wind turbine.

Earlier this year, similar objections persuaded Breckland Council to reject a plan for a six-turbine wind farm near Swaffham.

Sterling Aviation, which operates the East Anglian Air Ambulance, also opposes the turbine, saying it could jeopardise safe flight operations.

Ecotricity approached Consultavia, a member of the British Helicopter Advisory Board, for its views.

It stated the turbine would not reduce the approaches to the helipad below minimum guidelines. Round-the-clock lighting of the mast was recommended.

An officers’ report to the board members recommends that the military and air ambulance objections outweigh the undisputed need for more renewable energy sources.

By Mike Last

Lynn News

25 April 2008