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Riverside Stadium wind turbine developer set to launch multi-million pound legal action against Durham Tees Valley Airport
A company involved in a scheme to power Boro’s Riverside Stadium with a wind turbine is set to launch a multi-million pound legal action against Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA).
Empowering Wind’s plan for a 136m-high turbine at the Riverside had been delayed after airport bosses raised fears about the effect it would have on passenger safety.
But Middlesbrough Council has now finally agreed to remove a condition from its planning permission for the scheme, granted in 2008, which would have seen the North Yorkshire-based developer have to pay £700,000 to DTVA before it would lift its objection.
Empowering Wind’s chief executive Paul Millinder said that the authority’s decision, made by planning officers just before Christmas, ends the long-running row between the developer and the airport.
DTVA had claimed that planes may have needed to be re-routed five miles from the stadium if Empowering Wind did not pay towards updating its air traffic control system.
Mr Millinder said work on the turbine, which would make the Riverside the UK’s first major sports venue to become self-sustainable for electricity use and allow the club to invest more money in the team, would begin next month and be completed by the end of May.
But he said that money from electricity the turbine could already have generated has been lost, and that he will look to sue DTVA to recover the company’s losses.
He said: “I would lay the blame at the door of the airport. We have lost around £2.8m from the tariff we were going to get for the electricity it generated.
“It is great news that the planning condition has been removed, but there were no grounds for it to be there in the first place.
“There is no technology available that would have been able to satisfy the airport’s submission.
“I am taking legal advice and we will be pursuing litigation against the airport for insisting on a condition that was not needed, or possibly the council for taking so long to have it removed.”
A former National Air Traffic Service expert on the operational effects of wind turbines on radar displays said the scheme would not endanger passengers at the airport, but council officers took advice from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The authority has confirmed the condition has been removed, and that the turbine could operate without compromising passenger safety.
It is understood aviation minister and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill will now question DTVA over its claims in the light of the advice from the CAA.
A DTVA spokesman said: “We are awaiting a letter from Middlesbrough Council, which will explain the rationale behind this decision.
“We have no further comment to make at this stage.”
When announced in 2013, Boro Chief Executive Neil Bausor said the scheme would give the club “a major environmental lead in football” and make extra savings to “enhance our aspirations on the field”.
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