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Airport objects to wind turbine applications

Planning applications for ten wind turbines in the Lisburn area have been put on hold following objections by Belfast International Airport.

The applications went before Lisburn City Council this week with an indication from the Planning Service that they would all be refused permission.

However, Lisburn Councillor Alderman James Tinsley sought a deferral of the decision in the hope of facilitating a meeting between the applicants and representatives from the airport.

A spokesperson for the airport stressed that they were not opposed to windfarms and had in fact only objected to 30 out of 809 applications last year. “Belfast International Airport is not opposed to wind farms,” she said. “In fact, it supports the harnessing of renewable energy sources. The airport has taken a consistent approach based on the science and best advice currently available. This has resulted in less than one in 30 wind turbine applications being objected to (55 objections out of 1,800 applications).

“In the context of an airport, and aircraft movements, where safety has to be paramount, there are unacceptable risks posed by wind turbines. CAA regulations require the airport to review all turbine applications within a 30km radius of the aerodrome. Turbine blades when rotating bounce back radar signals giving the impression that something is moving in the airspace.

“These signal returns create false blips on radar screens which can cause confusion and doubt as to the location and movement of aircraft. The returns are inconsistent, meaning it is impossible for controllers to decide if it is a turbine, a light aircraft, a helicopter or even a microlight.

“Inside the next couple of years it is likely that wind turbine mitigation systems will become available which will reduce their impact on radar. Trials of such equipment are underway on the UK mainland, however, none have yet received CAA approval for use in a live operational environment.

“Belfast International Airport will continue to act responsibly, and in line with its legal obligations, by opposing some applications on grounds of aviation safety. However each application will need to be assessed individually,” she concluded.