The Ministry of Defence was yesterday criticised for submitting important evidence to a triple wind farm inquiry months late.
Bosses at the MoD had a deadline of December to submit statements to the ongoing public inquiry into three proposals for turbine developments north of Hexham.
But the ministry was yesterday criticised for submitting a vital proof of evidence to the inquiry into the proposals at Green Rigg Fell, the Ray Estate and the Steadings site, all in the North Tyne valley, three months after it had started.
The MoD is objecting to the turbines on the grounds that they will interfere with air traffic control radar and threat radar.
The first objection was submitted with the ministry’s statement of case, but the objection on the grounds of threat radar was not submitted to the inquiry until March, a fact that has upset developers.
At the inquiry, Andrew Newcombe, for Steadings, the group behind one of the proposals, cross-examined Squadron Leader Michael Coleman and asked why the delay had happened.
Mr Newcombe suggested the objection could and should have been submitted earlier. Addressing Sq Ldr Coleman about the delay, he said: “If there was something that in your view represented a threat to the value of the training at Spadeadam (an RAF site close to the proposed sites) do you keep quiet about that or do you approach the station commander and say ‘Sir, we have a problem?’”.
Sq Ldr Coleman said it would depend on the situation and that he had been very much on the periphery of discussions that had taken place at the base about the threat posed by the wind farm applications.
He said: “It is very much a matter of judgment. I am, at the end of the day, a subordinate and even if I had certain views they are subordinate to the mission.”
Mr Newcombe also raised the point that if a local authority was late in submitting a proof of evidence it would be likely to be forced to pay costs.
He said: “We are in no different position with the MoD.
“We are in the position where they, as a matter of fact, have raised an objection at a late stage.”
Last month The Journal reported how air traffic control experts at Newcastle Airport had objected to the developments because of the effect they would have on radar systems.
The inquiry, which has just completed its fifteenth week, is being held at the Britannia Newcastle Airport Hotel, Ponteland.
by Ben Guy
19 July 2008
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