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Massive wind turbine under fire from above and below  

Credit:  www.scotsman.com 17 May 2010 ~~

Architects and developers often run into objections, and the scheme to install a massive wind turbine on Corstorphine Hill is no exception.

But the ambitious plans have found themselves under fire from above and below ground over claims they will interfere with everything from planes to badgers.

The owners of a Cold War nuclear bunker on the site have applied to build a 190ft turbine to raise money for the bunker’s restoration and eventual reopening as a tourist attraction.

The plans are yet to go before city planners, but the initial objections received by the council are not good news for the scheme.

The most serious objection comes from Edinburgh Airport, where safety bosses are raising concerns the turbine could pose an obstacle to low-flying aircraft, obstruct the view of incoming pilots and interfere with radar.

And on top of that, or rather below it, are fears from Scottish Natural Heritage that, as well as spoiling the view, it will upset the hill’s resident badgers.

Susan Sweetman, SNH Forth & Borders area officer, said: “Corstorphine Hill is designated as a Local Nature Conservation Site and there are large numbers of badgers known to occupy it.

“The design statement does not address any potential disturbance to badgers or refer to the conservation designations, or consider potential impacts of the turbine on birds.”

The group is also worried about the look of the turbine and its visual impact on the city.

She added: “The scheme would be highly visible from most parts of the city and from the undeveloped Pentland Hills to the south.

“Along with the large scale of the turbine, this would result in significant landscape and visual impacts with little potential for mitigation.”

The nuclear bunker’s owner, James Mitchell, has converted a similar bunker near Anstruther into a tourist attraction called Scotland’s Secret Bunker, and hopes to generate enough revenue from the turbine to repair the Corstorphine bunker, which was heavily damaged by fire in 1993.

However, planners at East Lothian Council, who were consulted as a signatory to the Edinburgh & the Lothians Structure Plan, said building a turbine to fund a tourist attraction “is not considered a sufficient material consideration to warrant a departure from Structure Plan policy”.

Christopher Butler, of BAA Aerodrome Safeguarding, said: “Our assessment shows that turbines of 99m high in this location would be visible to the radar at Edinburgh Airport.

“This causes noticeable returns to be generated on the radar screens and therefore the turbine will cause operational problems for Air Traffic Control at Edinburgh Airport.”

Drum Brae Community Council has also objected “in the strongest possible terms”.

Chairman Reginald Kingman said: “It is our view that this development would be out of all proportion for an area that has a high number of residences in very close proximity.”

Kelvin Donaldson, director of Grassmarket-based architects Gilberts, said: “We are examining whether a very much smaller turbine might avoid interfering with aviation operations.”

Source:  www.scotsman.com 17 May 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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