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Cutteslowe Park wind turbine plans stalled over MoD radar concerns

Plans for a wind turbine at a North Oxford park have stalled amid fears it could interfere with RAF radar systems.

Oxford City Council and Partnerships for Renewables (PfR) have announced aviation studies and discussions with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), have highlighted “important challenges” facing two potential wind turbine sites in Cutteslowe Park and at Oxford Road in Horspath.

Preparations for a turbine in Horspath are continuing, but plans for Cutteslowe have been halted for the time being.

BAE Systems is working on behalf of PfR, the Government-backed body running the turbines, to liaise with the MoD over the radar concerns.

Tony Duffin, from PfR, said: “It is not uncommon for a potential commercial-scale wind turbine to face some form of aviation issue during the development process – in this case it’s the potential impact on existing radars at RAF Benson and RAF Brize Norton.

“Many design and technical fixes have been developed for resolving such aviation issues and we will be seeking the best resolution in discussion with both the MoD and BAE Systems.

“We are confident that we can work towards a resolution for one of our projects, but addressing the cumulative impact of both will be more challenging.

“Our ongoing work at the Oxford Road site near Horspath will continue, but we won’t be initiating any more work at Cutteslowe Park at present.

“Any decisions to continue work at this site will be made by us, the council and our aviation consultants BAE Systems.”

Earlier this year, the Friends of Cutteslowe Park expressed concern about the impact the 130-metre 2.5 megawatt turbine would have on the park.

Group chairman Graham Jones said: “This is news we weren’t expecting but it’s a relief because it gives us some breathing space.

“We want to concentrate on the needs of people using the park and the turbine was an added challenge. Lots of people had reservations about it.”

John Tanner, the city council’s board member for a cleaner, greener Oxford, said: “It is a big disappointment the wind turbine site at Cutteslowe is being put on hold by PfR, but we absolutely understand that Oxford’s wind turbines must not compromise RAF radar systems.

“We wish PfR every success in finding a technical solution to the problem with the Horspath site.

“The city council remains committed to working with PfR and to promoting green energy wherever we can.”

Nigel Pierce, of BAE Systems, said: “It is important aviation interests are taken seriously during the development process for any commercial-scale wind turbine.

“We are pleased that both the council and PfR are working with us and the MoD to ensure that any development does not pose a problem.”

Environmental and technical studies are ongoing at the Oxford Road site and a planning application for a temporary monitoring mast to gather wind data is expected following more talks with the MoD.

No planning application has been submitted for a test mast at the Cutteslowe Park site.