A proposed Cumbrian windfarm development could seriously impact the UK’s ability to detect distant nuclear tests, it has been claimed.
A public inquiry into Carlisle City Council’s move last December to reject the proposed development at Beck Burn Peat Works, near Longtown, is underway at the Civic Centre.
EDF Energy wants to build nine massive wind turbines built at the site – each measuring 126m to the tip of the blade – but their plan was rejected by the city council.
David Rose, a chartered town planner and hearing chairman, said that the main objection had come from the Ministry of Defence on the grounds that its equipment at Eskdalemuir monitoring site would be unable to detect the noise made by distant nuclear tests.
Mark Lambert, a solicitor for the council, said that was why the plan had been rejected and added: “The Eskdalemuir monitoring site is part of the seismic network of the International Monitoring System established to help verify compliance with the nuclear arms Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
“In order to ensure compliance with the treaty, which also requires that parties not interfere with the verification system, a noise budget has been allocated by the Ministry of Defence within a safeguarding area around Eskdalemuir.”
He said that when the application was heard the budget had already been reached and the proposed turbines would generate additional seismic noise that would compromise the capability of the UK to detect distant nuclear tests and breach the agreement.
The appeal was brought by EDF Energy Renewables Ltd. Marcus Trinick QC, acting on behalf of EDF, said: “In this case it is the appellant’s view that the proposed development accords with the provisions of the development plan and that other material considerations reinforce the case for planning permission.”
He added that Government energy policy remained fully behind renewable energy development – including onshore wind energy.
He said: “There can be no doubt that this proposal comes before you with the strong support from Government energy policy.”
Mr Trinick agreed that the Eskdalemuir site was the single determining issue and added: “The local authority does not raise any other objections to the development and you will note that, subject to appropriate conditions or other provisions, no objection is raised to the development by any other national consultee except the Secretary of State for Defence.”
The hearing continues today and will reconvene next week.
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