A landmark agreement between the Government and industry could open the way to more wind turbines in the South West.
The deal, which aims to removed aviation and radar barriers to the expansion of wind energy, was outlined yesterday by Business Secretary John Hutton.
The memorandum of understanding, signed by government departments, agencies and industry comes after the Government sought a technical solution to aviation and radar objections to wind farms.
In the past this has prompted fears that turbines at Westcountry locations, such as the roof of the Civic Centre in Exeter, could interfere with radar signals. It has led to many applications being rejected after air traffic controllers objected to them on air safety grounds.
They often veto preliminary applications for new wind farms because radar screens cannot differentiate between the aircraft and the turbines.
Exeter Airport’s objection was withdrawn after BAA and the Civil Aviation Authority said there was no concrete evidence to support such fears. An understanding was reached that the turbines would be turned off if they were shown to be interfering with the airport’s activities. In the new memorandum, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, the MoD, the Department for Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority, the National Air Traffic Service and the British Wind Energy Association agreed to:
Explore innovative technological solutions to air defence and air traffic radar, as well as radar absorbent wind turbine technology
Shorten pre-planning times, by introducing a web-based screening tool for the early stage of planning
Establish a new aviation management board which reports directly to ministers
Work with industry to establish financial and staffing resources dedicated to finding solutions.
Mr Hutton said: “Accelerating the deployment of renewables is crucial in the fight against climate change and will increase the amount of energy the UK produces on its own shores. This agreement represents real progress towards removing a barrier to the expansion of wind power, while ensuring air safety and national security.”
Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association, said: “The association warmly welcomes this as a vital first step in finding solutions to overcome the complex issue of wind farms and radar concerns.”
14 June 2008
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