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Radar fear holds up blueprints for £35m wind farm

Contentious plans for a £35m wind farm near the Yorkshire coast have been hit by further delays amid fears the development will play havoc with radar systems at a nearby air base.

Developers behind the scheme earmarked for landscapes recently made famous by David Hockney’s paintings have admitted that detailed blueprints will now not be finalised this year.

Representatives from Banks Renewables are involved in discussions with officials from the Ministry of Defence to establish the impact the wind farm could have on the radar station at Staxton Wold, near Scarborough.

Research has been commissioned to establish if the South Dale wind farm on agricultural land close to Hunmanby, near Filey, will impact on a new radar system planned for the RAF base. The technology is due to be introduced to avoid any effects from the largest off-shore wind farm in the world at Dogger Bank, 80 miles off the Yorkshire coast.

The proposals to build the onshore wind farm have already had to be scaled back, and campaigners claimed the development must not be allowed to go ahead if it impacts on the radar station’s operations.

Coun Michelle Donohue- Moncrieff, who represents the Hertford ward which includes Hunmanby on Scarborough Borough Council, said: “The area does have national strategic defence significance and this must not be compromised by a commercial development.

“There is an awful lot of opposition, and the impact on the radar station will be a key issue as to whether the wind farm goes ahead.”

Directors from Banks Renewables, which is part of the County Durham-based Banks Group, were adamant they remain fully committed to the project and data from the new research will help draw up the planning application, which is now expected to be submitted to Scarborough Borough Council next year.

The Banks Group’s environment and community director, Mark Dowdall, said: “We always endeavour to prepare planning applications which address all potential issues in a thorough and professional way.

“The radar assessments that we’ve been carrying out in recent months suggest that further investigation is needed into this area, so we have commissioned this extra work whilst also continuing our discussions with the Ministry of Defence about the specifics of what we’re looking to do on the South Dale site.

“Having promised to keep everyone informed about the progress we’re making, we are now communicating with all interested parties about where we’ve reached and the additional work that we’re now undertaking.”

The firm’s initial plans involved as many as 14 475ft-high turbines, but it is now expected the number will be restricted to nine turbines up to a height of 433ft.

Villagers living nearby are worried about the environmental impact as well as noise pollution, and the No To Wolds Wind Farm Group has been formed to block the scheme.

Conservative MP for MP for Thirsk and Malton Anne McIntosh told the Yorkshire Post in May that she would oppose all wind farms in the area, which has been put under the national spotlight this year through Bridlington artist David Hockney’s acclaimed exhibition at the Royal Academy in London.

But Banks Renewables has maintained the wind farm will provide a vital source of renewable energy.

The company is also planning to deliver a range of community projects through a benefits fund that would offer £75,000 every year – about £1.8m in total over the wind farm’s 25-year lifespan.