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Airport deal may stop protestors’ silver bullet

A multi-million pound radar deal could clear the way for a dale wind farm project.
Durham Tees Valley airport’s owners had said air safety would be “seriously compromised” by the scheme near Hamsterley Forest. And campaigners had hoped the airport’s objections would be the “silver bullet” that kills off the project.
Another energy company halted plans to build a wind farm at Bolam last year, following radar concerns raised by the Ministry of Defence.
Banks Renewables wants to install five turbines on farmland north of the village of Woodland. But airport owner Peel Airports Group (PAG) said the turbines would interfere with its radar system.
The airport had also objected for the same reasons to another Banks Renewables’ development to erect six turbines at Moor House, Barmpton, near Darlington. But these objections were withdrawn on the morning of a recent Darlington Borough Council planning meeting.
The airport’s owners have confirmed a deal has been reached with Banks to “remove all impacts” on its radar operations.
The Mercury understands the deal includes £6million for a new radar system that will not be affected by turbines.
Banks said it is in discussions with the airport about the Windy Bank development.
In its objection to Durham County Council, PAG said the Windy Bank turbines would create “clutter” on the screens of radar operators.
“This effect can be highly distracting for a controller and can cause confusion when try to distinguish between real aircraft and false targets,” said Andrew Hepworth, airport planner and wind farm co-coordinator with PAG.
“As a result, the safe operation of the airport would be seriously compromised and we therefore wish to object to the proposal.”
Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, said discussions are ongoing with Durham Tees Valley Airport in relation to the scheme at Hamsterley.
“We are continuing to look for appropriate ways in which the queries they have raised about it might be addressed.
“The Windy Bank wind farm would represent a £12.5million investment by Banks, and as well as delivering enough renewable energy to meet the annual energy consumption requirements of around 7,000 homes, it would also bring with it a substantial variety of other benefits.
“These range from jobs being created during the construction phase of the project and construction companies would be able to tender for related contracts worth around £3million through to the provision of a fund that would provide around £625,000 of support for local community groups, environmental and voluntary projects during the wind farm’s 25-year lifespan.”