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Airport objects to proposals for wind turbines

Protesters against a planned dale wind farm hope an airport’s objection will be the “silver bullet” that kills off the project.

Durham Tees Valley Airport’s owner has said air safety would be “seriously compromised” by the scheme proposed for the edge of Hamsterley Forest. Banks Renewables has applied for permission to install five turbines.

In a letter to Durham County Council, the airport owner Peel Airports Group (PAG) said the turbines would interfere with its radar system.

Andrew Hepworth, airport planner and wind farm co-ordinator with PAG, said the turbines would create “clutter” in the form of “twinkling or the formation of tracks on the screen”.

“This effect can be highly distracting for a controller and can cause confusion when trying to distinguish between real aircraft and false targets,” he said.

“As a result, the safe operation of the airport would be seriously compromised and we therefore wish to object to the proposal.

“In addition, the developer has not provided, within the planning application, any proposals to mitigate the impacts, or evidence that indicates the impacts could be mitigated.”

Mr Hepworth said the turbines would impact on radar, despite the distance from the airport, because they would stand on high ground.

Hamsterley and Upper Gaunless Action Group was formed to fight the plans. A supporter said: “We hope this will be our silver bullet.”

Another energy company halted plans to build a wind farm at Bolam last year following radar concerns raised by the Ministry of Defence.

But Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, said the company is in discussions with PAG to address these concerns.

“Aviation issues form an important part of the consideration that we give to all our wind farm proposals,” he said. “Because of the distance from Durham Tees Valley Airport, we are a little surprised to hear of this objection, and are presently undertaking discussions with the airport to see how the queries they have raised might be addressed.

“We strongly believe that the design we have created for the Windy Bank scheme is wholly appropriate for its location.”