Both military and civilian flying over Moray could be put in danger by the growing number of wind turbines in the area.
An objection to an application for three wind turbines overlooking the village of Cummingston reveals what the Ministry of Defence believe is a very real threat to air operations.
Air Traffic Control dangers were cited in a submission to planners when turbine proposals were set to be considered by a meeting of the full planning committee in August.
At that time the recommendation by planning officials was to reject the proposal to place four turbines on a hill overlooking the village, with MoD objections being cited as one of the reasons.
However, hours before the meeting the proposal was adjusted to three wind turbines, forcing the entire consultation period to begin again.
That consultation period ended on Thursday, by which time the proposal had attracted over 60 submissions, including a second objection from MoD experts.
Their submission says that the turbines would be just 7.6km from, and in line of sight with, RAF Lossiemouth’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar.
In addition, the Ministry say, the development would be 5.8km from, and in line of sight of, their secondary ATC facility at RAF Kinloss.
Explaining the significance of this, an MoD Assistant Safeguarding Officer for Wind Energy, Cyranne Taylor, said: “Wind turbines have been shown to have detrimental effects on the performance of MoD ATC and range control radars.
“These effects include the desensitisation of radar in the vicinity of the turbines, and the creation of “false” aircraft returns which air traffic controllers must treat as real.”
Ms Taylor added that controllers use the radar to separate and sequence both military and civilian aircraft, and in uncontrolled airspace radar is the only sure way to do this safely.
She added: “The creation of “false” aircraft displayed on the radar leads to increased workload for both controllers and aircrews, and may have a significant operational impact.”
While the base at RAF Kinloss has now ceased flying operations, the runway will be maintained as a backup for aircraft operating from RAF Lossiemouth.
RAF Lossiemouth is also likely to see an increase in flying hours when the UK’s air defence Typhoon squadrons are transferred to the Moray base.
Moray Council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee is expected to consider the submission later this month.
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