November 16, 2010

Windfarm gets set for M-way site

Gordon Thomson, Evening Times, 15 November 2010

Energy chiefs are to go ahead with a controversial plan to build Europe’s biggest windfarm next to one of Scotland’s busiest motorways.

The move comes despite fears it could create major problems for air traffic controllers.

Scottish and Southern Energy Renewables says the £500million project at Abington, South Lanarkshire, is on schedule with the first commissioning due next year.

SSE bosses got the go-ahead from the Scottish Parliament to build the wind farm. Its 152 turbines will generate 548 megawatt of electricity capable of powering 320,000 homes. The giant turbines will be built on either side of the M74.

But there had been speculation energy chiefs faced possible delays after NATS, the organisation which provides air traffic control services in the UK, said there was a danger that giant turbine blades could jeopardise the ability of air traffic controllers to track planes at Prestwick Airport.

NATS, which last year handled 2.2m flights in UK air space involving 200m passengers, has warned turbine blades can appear on radar screens as “clutter,” making it harder for controllers to track light planes.

SSE chiefs have reportedly miscalculated the impact the new wind farm will have on radar systems but say they are working closely with the air traffic control agency to overcome any issues.

They have also been given 18 months to build a new radar facility at Glasgow Airport which will allow controllers to monitor planes over the wind farm site. A spokeswoman for SSE said: “The wind farm remains on track.”

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