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Northumberland airfield owner says A1 turbine plan is a ‘death risk’  

Credit:  by Dan Warburton, The Journal | www.journallive.co.uk 25 September 2012 ~~

An airfield owner last night warned that plans for a huge wind turbine in rural Northumberland could compromise the safety of pilots and even put lives at risk.

Empirica Investments Ltd has submitted plans for the huge turbine – which is 67m tall to the tip of the blades – in land a mile away from Felton, near Morpeth, Northumberland.

But the proposed spot lies in a three-mile radius of the nearby Eshott Airfield and concerns have been raised that low-flying aircraft using the A1 to navigate their flight patterns could be put in danger.

Storm Smith, owner of the airfield, has lodged a formal objection to the plans, claiming the turbine could lead to claims against the council “should there be an accident or worse still somebody was killed”.

In the letter to Northumberland County Council he says that the turbine’s proposed location “will have a large impact on the safe operation of aircraft flying in Northumberland”.

It has also emerged that the Ministry of Defence has objected to the proposals, saying it would cause “unacceptable interference” to radars at RAF Brizlee Wood, which is located eight miles west of RAF Boulmer.

The company – which carried out an assessment of the area – last night said it was in negotiations with the MoD.

Mr Smith said: “Most aircraft coming in to land would do so in good visibility. They would still be well above 1,500ft coming towards the airfield and in good conditions the turbine would be a good visual reference for pilots.

“It’s the times when weather conditions are poor and a pilot is trying to find somewhere to land. They have to go lower than the clouds to navigate their way.

“It’s one of those extreme scenarios that is going to be rare but they should be aware of it.”

In papers to go before the council, Empirica Investments Ltd is bidding to build a single wind turbine to support a blade of up 22m with maximum height to the tip of the blade being 67m.

The North Yorkshire-based company, set up in 2009 to develop renewable energy projects, commissioned a report to assess the impact of the turbine on a raft of things including noise, ecology and heritage. It states: “The proposal is consistent with national, regional and local planning policy, as well as assisting the Government’s renewable energy strategy.

“In balancing the potential effects against the benefits arising from the promotion of renewable energy development, it is considered that any potential harm is low and outweighed by the benefits arising from the proposal.”

In the MoD’s objection, it is claimed that the turbine would hinder their ability to monitor the skies over Northumberland.

It said: “Trials carried out in 2005 concluded that wind turbines can have detrimental effects on the operation of radar which includes the desensitisation of radar in the vicinity of turbines and the creation of ‘false’ aircraft returns.

“The probability of aircraft detecting aircraft flying over or in the vicinity of 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.”

In 2010 plans for a wind farm at Wandylaw, near Berwick, were given approval by the MoD after developers were able to ensure turbines did not affect defence radars.

But Mr Smith said the plans for Felton posed a risk to light aircraft making their way into land. He said: “I’ve got no problems with wind turbines but if there was an aircraft using the A1 to make their way back to the runway then it will pose problems.

“The other noticeable thing is the railway tracks and pilots use these to land and make their way safely to the airfield.

“I was quite surprised that they had not informed us with it being just three miles away from the airfield. I have written them a letter to make them aware of the dangers.

“If it was a little bit further away from the A1 it might not be as much of a problem – but there’s going to be problems if two people are killed in a crash.”

A spokeswoman for Knight Frank, which carried out the assessment for Empirica Investments Ltd, said: “We are in discussions with the MoD in an effort to come to a resolution.”

Northumberland County Council last night confirmed that it had received objections from Mr Smith and the MoD before informing the applicant.

The council said that it would give Empirica Investments until October 5 to “address the concerns” before deciding how to move the application forward.

Source:  by Dan Warburton, The Journal | www.journallive.co.uk 25 September 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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