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Turbine plans set to be refused

Ministry of Defence claims structure would interfere with nearby radar station

Plans to construct a 260ft-high wind turbine on a Buchan farm look certain to be thrown out over fears the giant structure could prevent the Ministry of Defence detecting enemy aircraft.

Buchan firm Ednie Farms want to site the turbine – which would be more than 200ft in diameter – near Peterhead on land at Bruxiehill, St Fergus.

But the MoD has objected to the proposals on the grounds that the turbine could interfere with its radar equipment, based a few miles away at the RAF Buchan technical site. As a result, the plans are being recommended for refusal by Aberdeenshire Council planning bosses, who are also concerned about the “integrity” of the air defence radar system.

The proposed turbine would be built just over six miles from the air defence radar at RAF Buchan, which is three miles too close according to defence chiefs.

They are concerned the turbine would have a detrimental impact on the UK’s air surveillance capability.

They are also concerned that the specific location of the proposals would see the turbine show up on radar as a genuine aircraft target.

The company behind the plans argues that the way the MoD looks at these proposals is “flawed”, and has submitted evidence from its consultants which they claim contradicts the MoD’s stance.

A council spokesman said: “Notwithstanding the applicant’s evidence on this matter, in light of the objection lodged by the MoD, it is considered that the proposal is likely to result in interference with the radar installation and as such would fail to comply with local planning policies.

“Consequently, refusal is recommended.”

For more than 50 years personnel at RAF Buchan scanned the northern skies for hostile activity 24 hours a day. Throughout much of that time, the Cold War made the task much more than a training exercise. Controllers kept vigil over radar screens checking for any indication of Soviet military aircraft approaching UK airspace. Despite the camp being sold off three years ago, the MoD still maintains a radar presence in the north-east, a presence which is still crucial for protecting UK airspace.

Members of the Buchan area committee will make a decision on the plans when they meet in Peterhead on Tuesday next week.

The Press and Journal

8 May 2008