Plans to install what would be the highest wind turbine on the Yorkshire Wolds would weaken Britain’s defence against enemy aircraft, the Ministry of Defence has warned.
The MoD is objecting to proposals to erect a 150ft turbine at Cliff Lane in Bempton, one of three planned for the village which are all facing stiff opposition from residents.
But it is the Cliff Lane turbine, which would supply electricity to a pig unit at Norway Farm, which is causing the most concern.
Outlining its objection, the MoD said: “The turbine will be 17.6km from, in line of sight to, and will cause unacceptable interference to the AD (air defence) radar station st Staxton Wold.
“Trials carried out in 2005 concluded that wind turbines can have detrimental effects on the operation of radar which include the desensitisation of radar in the vicinity of the turbines, and the creation of ‘false’ aircraft returns.
“The probability of the radar detecting aircraft flying over or in the vicinity of the turbines would be reduced, and the RAF would be unable to provide a full air surveillance service in the area of the proposed wind farm.”
The Ministry added: “MoD Safeguarding wishes to be consulted and notified about the progress of planning applications and submissions relating to this proposal to verify that it will not adversely affect defence interests.”
Villagers have called the MoD’s intervention “very significant”.
Their objections, however, have focused on fears about the turbine’s impact on the landscape and migratory birds.
David Hinde, of High Street, Bempton, who is also a spokesman for Bempton Residents Against Turbines, said: “It’s on the ridge above the village, looming over the village.
“The other critical thing is it’s seen from other sites and that’s the beautiful Filey Bay, Filey Brigg and Filey Country Park. It’s less than half a mile from the cliffs.
“The Campaign to Protect Rural England have objected to this and Natural England say they regard the Flamborough Heritage Coast as important as an area of outstanding natural beauty designation.”
The application has brought the campaigners into dispute with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which manages a visitor centre at Bempton, whose chalk cliffs are one of the most important seabird nesting sites in the UK.
The RSPB is not objecting to the turbine plans, which has angered some residents who feel it should be doing more to protect the coast, and they have retaliated by saying they will not support the charity’s own plans to create a national seabird visitor centre at its site.
Mr Hinde said: “The RSPB says it is not going to affect seabirds, but the argument is about migratory birds.
“We get a lot of sea frets here and birds coming in would be very, very vulnerable to turbine collision. There is evidence across the world that wind turbines have killed thousands of birds.”
He added: “Onshore wind turbines are getting bigger and bigger and there is no place for turbines on the Yorkshire Wolds. (David) Hockney paints it and makes it internationally famous and the heritage coast is part of the Yorkshire Wolds.”
Although East Yorkshire could soon be at the heart of a national renewable energy hub, with up to £1bn of investment in green energy planned for the Humber region, the siting of onshire wind turbines in the area has become a hotly contested issue.
Several plans have been rejected by East Riding Council only for them to then be approved after appeals to Government planning inspectors, leading to perceptions that local democracy is being undermined.
According to latest figures from the council, 22 turbines are already operational and a further 98 have either been approved or are under construction. Applications for another 20 turbines have been made.
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