Approval for second wind turbine site will affect air defence, says MoD
Fears have been raised about the future of a north-east Ministry of Defence radar site after plans for a second wind turbine nearby were approved.
Aberdeenshire councillors have snubbed the advice of the MoD for the second time in as many months and approved plans for a turbine near crucial radar equipment, based a few miles away at the RAF Buchan technical site, known as Remote Radar Head Buchan, near Boddam.
Members of the Buchan area committee have backed plans for a turbine at Blackhills, on the outskirts of Peterhead – three-and-a-half miles away from RAF Buchan.
The decision comes just months after the same committee ignored the advice of MoD officials and their own planning bosses, to back plans for a 260ft turbine at Bruxiehill, St Fergus
The MoD fears that both plans will hinder its ability to detect enemy aircraft entering British airspace.
The Blackhills plan will see a 50ft turbine built next to the A90 Peterhead ring road.
The plans had been recommended for refusal on the back of the MoD objections, but councillors still approved the scheme.
There had been concerns that the turbine could affect the television signal for up to 3,700 homes, but a condition has been put in the planning permission to tackle the problem.
However councillor Peter Chapman said he feared that by continuing to ignore the advice of defence chiefs, they could be affecting Britain’s ability to protect itself “in more difficult times”.
He said: “If we continue to go against their advice and approve these things, we may end up in a situation where the station is unable to do its job.”
Personnel at RAF Buchan have scanned the northern skies for hostile activity for more than half a century.
Controllers keep vigil over radar screens, checking for any indication of enemy aircraft approaching UK airspace.
Despite the RAF Buchan base being sold off three years ago, the MoD maintains its radar presence in the north-east at Remote Radar Head Buchan – a presence that is still crucial for protecting UK airspace.
The MoD said last month that there was “no doubt” that the Bruxiehill wind turbine would affect Britain’s air defences.
By Ryan Crighton
26 June 2008
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