March 30, 2012

Hercules aircraft could be the secret weapon that sees off Italian firm’s £20m wind farm

Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY, Editor, Wisbech Standard, 30 March 2012

A West Norfolk village is hoping Hercules aircraft could see off a threat by Italians to build a £20million, 11-turbine wind farm.

The Ministry of Defence believes the turbines, up to 127 metres high, north of Terrington St Clement pose a serious threat to low flying and essential training in the area.

Claire Duddy, assistant safeguarding officer for wind energy at the MoD, said: “The turbines will be within a low flying area and will unacceptably affect military activities.”

She said low flying areas were tactically important “within which military fast jets and Hercules aircraft may operate to as little as 30 metres separation from the ground and other obstacles.

“The proliferation of obstacles within this area is not only a safety hazard but also severely impacts on its utilisation for essential low flying training.”

The turbines could also have implications for radar systems at RAF Marham, RAF Cottesmore, RAF Cranwell, RAF Waddington, RAF Coningsby and RAF Lakenheath.

Ms Duddy said: “These effects include the densensitisation of radar in the vicinity of the turbines and the creation of ‘false’ aircraft returns which air traffic controllers must treat as real.”

This could lead to aircraft not being detected by radar and therefore not presented to air traffic controllers, she added.

The MoD objections are among those lodged against the wind farm proposals put forward by Italian owned Falck Renewables. It claims substantial access amendments have been made following public consultation.

More than 50 objections have been put to West Norfolk Council just four years after Notus Energy of Germany finally gave up the ghost and withdrew its £40million scheme for 19 wind turbines in another Fenland village, at Marshland St James.

That application was marred with tragedy when farmer Richard Herbert, one of a consortium of landowners wanting to build the turbines, drowned himself after protests about the proposals mounted.

Falck says a wind farm in this area “would contribute towards meeting both national and local objectives for the increased use of renewable energy, help reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuel imports and assist in the efforts being made to reduce the potential effects of climate change.”

The developers have agreed to give £10,000 a year to community schemes if plans are approved.

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