Two of Britain’s largest aviation groups have warned against potential plane crashes if two “giant” wind turbines were erected in the middle of a busy flying zone near Olveston.
The UK Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the General Aviation Awareness Council have urged South Gloucestershire Council to consider pilots’ safety when deciding whether to give the wind farm development proposed by REG Windpower the go-ahead.
They described placing two wind turbines by the M48 as “erecting a tower block in the middle of a busy, ultra-fast motorway contraflow”.
“Neither the GAAC nor AOPA are opposed in principle to wind turbine developments,” they said.
“However in this case the risk of collision with the turbines, or of accidents caused by sudden manoeuvring should the turbines be encountered in poor visibility, is multiplied because the proposed site is at the intersection of two heavily used visual navigation routes.”
Both groups called what they saw as REG Windpower’s failure to put pilot safety first “a significant oversight in their plans”.
The River Severn and M5 motorway, as well as the M4, M48 and Severn Bridge, are navigational landmarks used by GA aircraft to guide themselves around the area.
The turbines would be almost directly below the crossroads between the busy North/South and East/West flying routes, according to GAAC and AOPA.
Steve Slater, of GAAC, sent a letter objecting to the wind farm to planning chiefs after being contacted by worried local pilots.
He said: “GA aircraft and helicopters following these terrestrial features frequently fly quite legally at heights above ground that could bring them into very close proximity with the proposed wind turbines.”
Campaigners from Olveston Wind Farm Action Group, who have been fighting the plans since they were first introduced, said: “OWAG hope that South Gloucestershire Council take their concerns on board. It is fortunate that this risk has been identified now before any accidents are caused by these turbines.”
But REG Windpower project developer Sophie Hartfield said the firm had consulted with the Ministry of Defence, which had given the plans the green light.
“The turbines are in open airspace, so they are not aviation obstacles in the regulatory sense. Under the Air Navigation Order it clearly states it is the pilots’ responsibility to avoid tall structures such as the turbines.
“We agree that the road will be used as a navigational feature but that is true of every motorway in the UK, there are also many other taller structures in the immediate area such as the Severn Bridge stanchions and the Severn Crossing pylons.”
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