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Turbine could cause radar mayhem

The creation of a wind turbine at Bonnykelly near New Pitsligo would cause “unacceptable interference” for radar.

That’s the blunt message from Aberdeen International Airport which says that the introduction of an additional turbine in the area would create unacceptable clutter on radar screens.

Applicant Roy Mathieson of Elgin has lodged the proposal for the turbine – which has a tip height of 99.5 metres – through Green Cat Renewables.

In a report to be brought before the Buchan Area Committee next week, Aberdeenshire Council planners say the site was subject to a previous application for the erection of two 99.5m wind turbines.

That application was refused under delegated powers due to its impact upon NATS radar, cumulative impact, amenity and access issues.

A subsequent appeal was also dismissed.

In addition to the concerns of Aberdeen Airport, the Ministry of Defence has objected to the proposal on the grounds that the turbine will cause an unacceptable interference to the AD radar at RAF Buchan.

NATS has an outstanding objection to the proposal and says it will cause unacceptable interference to Alanshill NERL Radar.

In his report to be put before councillors, Stephen, Archer, director of Infrastructure Services at Aberdeenshire Council, states: “There are a small number of approved and operational wind turbines within the immediate locale.

“While of a similar scale to the turbine proposed, the separation distance between would mean that it would be difficult to view as one grouping of wind turbine, but instead as separate, individual wind turbines.

“Given this individuality, the appearance of the landscape would resemble a cluttered arrangement of wind turbines with no defined pattern. This in turn would lead to a negative cumulative impact of the proposal in conjunction with the others in the area.”

On the subject of radar interference, Mr Archer adds: “A main issue with applications of this type relates to the impact upon radar and communications.

“Development should not adversely impact upon communications installations, radar or air traffic control systems of all of the National Air Traffic Service, local Airport (Aberdeen International Airport) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

“There has been a significant number of wind turbines of varying height built and approved within the Aberdeenshire Council area.

“In certain parts of Aberdeenshire the number of turbines has reached saturation point in terms of the impact upon air traffic and radar systems as any further impact or ‘clutter’ caused by wind turbines appearing on radar screens would no longer be manageable.”

NATS have advised the planning service that no mitigation is available for this application.

“While blanking can at times be applied for or offered,” explains Mr Archer, “in this instance NATS have advised that blanking can only be provided for one additional wind turbine in this area.

“Given the other outstanding issues with this proposal, as well as other, potentially more suitable proposals within the vicinity, the offer of blanking has been withdrawn. It is understood therefore that there is no opportunity of the NATS issues being resolved.”

Planners are recommending refusal on the grounds of radar interference and the detrimental impact the turbine would have on the quality and character of the area.