Villagers opposing a wind farm near their homes today expressed fears over air traffic safety.
Residents of Hilton village near Yarm believe the turbines could cause problems for aircraft flying in and out of Durham Tees Valley and RAF Leeming.
Broadview Energy originally submitted plans to build up to eight 125m turbines between Seamer and Hilton. Following consultation, the company now proposes to install five, positioned on either side of the electricity pylons that currently straddle the site near the A19.
The company says the area was identified as a “prime location” due to its strong wind resource, good road access, distance away from houses and local electrical infrastructure.
The Government’s policy statement on renewable energy with regard to air safeguarding states: “Any large structure is likely to show up on radar, but wind turbines can present a particular problem as they can be interpreted as a moving object, which is only intermittently seen.”
Durham Tees Valley is 9.5km away from the proposed development while RAF Leeming is 26km.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman told the Gazette: “The MOD is committed to government targets for renewable energy and whenever possible we seek to work with wind farm developers to find a mutually acceptable solution.”
Doug Wallace from Hilton village said: “All wind turbines within the safeguarded area can affect the radar.
“The primary concern is the safety of passengers.”
And Geoff Cook, chairman of Hilton Parish Council, said they believe the expansion of the airport should also be taken into account.
“The planned increase in air traffic in the future will exacerbate the problem,” he said.
A spokesman for Durham Tees Valley Airport said they could not comment before discussing the plans with the developer.
Elizabeth Mann, from the County Durham branch of Campaign to Protect Rural England, said in previous wind farm applications, including the Walkway turbines near Wynyard Woodland Park, mitigation agreements were reached between the developers and the airport.
“We have got to know what is being said between the airport and the developers,” she said.
“These wind farms are within the safeguarded area and the more there are, the greater the risk.”
Broadview Energy said it is planning four public consultation events in June.
Managing director Jeff Corrigan said: “It is imperative we talk to the community in the proposed area, as well as the surrounding neighbourhoods, in order to clarify facts and answer questions they may have.
“This is something we have done since the beginning of the year. The public exhibition allows us to go back to the community to update them as we finalise our designs for the wind farm following various studies we have commissioned.”
Details will be sent to local residents in these areas in the near future.
“Each wind farm development is looked at on an individual basis to understand what, if any, impacts it may have on the airport,” said Mr Corrigan.
“If appropriate, the airport may object to a scheme unless it is satisfied that mitigation measures are in place. Durham Tees Valley Airport currently reserves comment on this particular proposal until it reviews the individual details of the development.”
by Naomi Corrigan, Evening Gazette
15 May 2008
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