A row has erupted between the developer of Boro FC’s wind turbine and Durham Tees Valley Airport over alleged passenger safety issues.
The 136 metre turbine was given the green light to be built in the overflow car park at the Riverside Stadium by Middlesbrough Council in 2008.
The approval came with a condition that, before operation, a scheme to alleviate the impact of the turbine on the airport radar must be submitted and approved by the local authority.
The North Yorkshire developer, Empowering Wind, has now applied to remove the planning condition on the grounds that the turbine poses no problem.
But airport chiefs insist there is “a potential risk to aviation safety” if the mitigation measures are not in place.
A DTVA spokesperson said: “The siting of this proposed turbine is much more critical to airport operations than many of the operational turbines in the area.
“It is in critical airspace on the approach to our runway.
“The rotation of the turbine blades – each as large as the size of commercial aircraft which operate from the airport – means that the airport radar would display them as unidentified returns akin to an unknown aircraft.
“Without proper mitigation procedures the operation of this turbine would in certain conditions result in controllers having to reroute aircraft off the approach to the runway or off agreed flight paths, impacting on both flight operations and air traffic safety.”
The airport has made clear to Middlesbrough Council that it objects to the application to remove the mitigation condition.
And it has submitted a detailed report from consultants setting out the impact on the airport if the turbine was to be permitted to operate without adequate mitigation measures in place.
DTVA officials say they have met with the developer “on several occasions”, to discuss the issue and confirm that they “would be happy to work with them on progressing a mitigation solution”.
Empowering Wind’s total investment in the scheme, including all planning, professional and legal fees for erecting the turbine, will total more than £3.5m.
In a report published earlier this month, Doug Maclean, a former National Air Traffic Service expert on the operational effects of wind turbines on radar displays, said he had “no hesitation” in recommending the planning condition be axed.
Mr Maclean believed there were “no safety implications for the full operation of the Riverside wind turbine”.
Middlesbrough Council’s planning committee will consider the application to remove the condition when it meets on December 19.
Plans for a wind turbine at the Riverside were first announced in 2007.
The 1.5MW turbine will provide all the electricity required for the stadium for the next 20 years, replacing power that would otherwise be drawn from the National Grid.
Cleaner, cheaper energy is the goal for Boro which will be the first major football club and sports venue to use a wind turbine to become self-sustainable for electricity use.
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