National security, not renewable energy, will win the day in a battle being fought over two pending wind farm applications, the Gazette has been told.
A decision from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is looming on 18 turbines proposed by npower renewables at Middlemoor, which was subject to a public inquiry last November.
And a further hearing is about to launch into 10 more at neighbouring Wandylaw, put forward by RidgeWind Ltd, following refusal by Berwick Borough Council last October.
But according to a well-placed source, both are doomed to certain failure because of Ministry of Defence (MoD) concerns over the effect of the turbines on both early warning radar systems and low-flying fast jets.
It follows comments made by planning inspector David Cullingford at the pre-inquiry meeting into Wandylaw, held in Spittal on Monday.
As with Middlemoor, the MoD is objecting because of the potential ‘blinding’ of the RAF air defence radar at nearby Brizlee Wood.
Mr Cullingford said: “If a reasonable likelihood of interference remains, it must be in the national interest to prevent the proposal.
“I can not see any way around that at the moment. It seems to me that is a matter of safety and national security.”
No way has yet been found to prevent the distortion caused by turbines on military radars, although some wind farms in the UK have been permitted subject to a solution being found before construction can take place.
But the Gazette’s source, who has impressive credentials yet cannot be identified, said: “The message is very clear. These turbines will not go ahead, because of their effect on MoD operations. That’s the situation.
“We know there is a shift by the Government to place turbines out at sea, and it would appear very unlikely that approval will be given either at Middlemoor or Wandylaw.”
RidgeWind, however, says it does not accept the need for mitigation measures to overcome radar problems, and will present its case at the inquiry on September 16.
At last year’s hearing into Middlemoor, RAF top brass and npower clashed over claims that the turbines planned near South Charlton would have a “massive effect” on the air defence radar at Brizlee Wood.
Npower advocate Marcus Trinick accused the MoD of “ambushing” the inquiry with new evidence which had not been presented earlier.
But Squadron Leader Chris Breedon, one of the top advisors on air defence radar operations in the UK, raised serious concerns about the possible effects of the turbines on national security.
He said the turbines would be in direct line of sight of the Brizlee radar, an important element of the UK Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS).
Meanwhile Your Energy Ltd has lodged an appeal against Berwick Borough Council’s refusal of its seven-turbine plan for Moorsyde, between Allerdean and Duddo.
A spokesman for Moorsyde Action Group, which is fighting the plans, said the group is confident the planning inspector will find that councillors were justified in throwing out the application.
By Robert Brooks
17 July 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding