Anti-wind farm protesters in Northumberland have been dealt a major blow by a development that could pave the way to many more turbines being erected in the county.
A company called RidgeWind is hoping to press ahead with its plans for a wind farm at Wandylaw, near Berwick, after finding a way of making sure its turbines do not affect Ministry of Defence radar.
The company, along with a number of other wind farm developers, had been blocked from going ahead with its scheme until it found a suitable solution to the problem.
But after the MoD gave its approval for the RidgeWind scheme, work on Wandylaw is likely to start soon, with the development set to trigger the construction of a number of other wind farms elsewhere in the county.
The company’s project for 10 turbines at Wandylaw was rejected by the now defunct Berwick Borough Council in October 2007 after the MoD said the turbines would have an impact on the air defence radar at RAF Boulmer.
The company appealed and a planning inspector ruled that it could proceed as long as a solution to the radar issue could be found.
RidgeWind has now submitted details of its mitigation scheme to the borough council’s successor, Northumberland County Council.
The issue of radar has been a stumbling block to a number of other wind farm proposals, including planned sites at the Ray Estate, near Kirkwhelpington, Green Rigg Fell and Kirkharle.
Last night Nigel Goodhew, director at RidgeWind, said: “There was always a number of solutions that we could adopt, so the first part of the condition has been satisfied. Then we move onto the second part.”
Mr Goodhew said the company hopes to begin construction work on the wind farm next year.
A council spokeswoman said: “The developers have to present a scheme to the MoD which proves that the scheme will not have an adverse impact on the radar.
“They have submitted that and I think they (MoD) confirmed that it is acceptable to them.” Last night, Nick Blezard, who was part of the Save Northumberland’s Environment group which opposed the Wandylaw scheme, said people in the area had hoped the difficulties around the radar issue would never be resolved.
He said: “I think it was hoped that the radar would continue to be a problem ad infinitum.
“We would be very disappointed. If you get one or two more in Northumberland you may get two or three more in Northumberland. It takes one of the hurdles out of the way, there is no doubt about that.”
The MoD was yesterday unable to comment on the Wandylaw development, but said in a statement it was “committed to Government targets for renewable energy and whenever possible we seek to work with wind farm developers to find a mutually acceptable solution”.
It added: “The effects of wind turbines on radar are complex and the MoD is working in a number of areas to address the effects of turbines on radar.
“However, we must do what is necessary to ensure that national security, the safety of aircraft, and, indeed, the safety of aircrew and of people on the ground, are protected through proper safeguarding of those radars.”
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