The owners of St Merryn airfield are calling on the government to halt the construction of a wind turbine which they say is a hazard to aircraft.
Ninety-three-year-old Betty Partridge and her son, Jo, have written to Prime Minister David Cameron asking him to intervene. Yesterday (Tuesday) they arranged for a light aircraft to tow a huge banner proclaiming “Save St Merryn Airfield” across the North Cornwall skies to promote their cause.
Planning consent for the 54-metre tall turbine was granted in 2012, but construction did not start until late last year. Cranes began erecting the turbine tower last week, barely 1,000 metres from the airfield runways.
According to Mr Partridge, no member of his family was consulted during the planning process and no risk assessment ever carried out to determine what impact, if any, the turbine would have on use of the airfield. There are several other wind turbines already in place in St Merryn, but Mr Partridge said none posed the same risk to aircraft.
“We’re not against wind turbines,” he told the Cornish Guardian, “we’re simply in favour of safety. This particular turbine would be within the flying circuit of the airfield, in contravention of a host of Civil Aviation Authority rules and regulations.”
The St Merryn airfield had been a Royal Navy facility until it was decommissioned by the Ministry of Defence in 1956. Most of the site was bought by Jo’s father, Bob Partridge, in 1967 and used to house several vintage aircraft, including a Spitfire. The airfield later became a gyrocopter training facility, and for more than 25 years was home to a parachute club. Several light aircraft continue to use its runways today, averaging more than two flights per week.
The turbine is being constructed on land north of Treleigh Farm, St Ervan, by AG Renewables Ltd although the planning consent was gained by Windberry Energy Ltd. When the application was first submitted, in October 2011, it was controversial – prompting more than 90 comments to the Cornwall Council website.
An Aviation and Communications Assessment considered its impact on Newquay airport, and on military airfield as far afield as Culdrose and Hartland. But it says nothing about the St Merryn airfield, only a few hundred yards away. Cornwall Council granted planning permission in May 2012. AG Renewables could not be reached for comment yesterday (Tuesday).
“My dad died in 2012 and was very ill throughout the planning process,” said Mr Partridge. “We didn’t know anything about this planning application. By the time we found out what was going on, it was too late to get a Judicial Review.
“But now we want the government to step in and issue a Stop Notice, on the grounds that there was no proper risk assessment of the aviation issues. This particular turbine is too big, and too close to a working airfield. There are lots of Civil Aviation Authority rules and regulations governing these issues. Put simply, aeroplanes and wind turbines don’t mix.”
So far the only response has been an acknowledgement from the Prime Minister’s office, promising that the issue will be forwarded to the relevant department.
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