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Glasgow Airport objection grounds plans for Helensburgh wind farm

An objection from Glasgow Airport has temporarily grounded plans for a five-turbine wind farm on the hill above Helensburgh and Rhu.

Airport managers claimed the proposed development location on land north of Drum-fad Wood, about 2km north of the Burgh, at is in a ‘sensitive area of airspace’. The representation states the turbines would clutter radar screens and impact the ability of air traffic controllers to detect unknown aircraft – reducing safety assurances.

Oppositions group have hailed the submission as ‘significant’ whilst the developers – Helensburgh Renewables, Green Cat Renewables, and land owner Luss Estates – say they will meet with the airport bosses to discuss the objection.

The response to the planning application by Glasgow Airport’s safeguarding manager said the development had been examined from an aerodrome safeguarding perspective and ‘conflicts with safeguarding criteria’.

It stated: “Located 26km north west of the Aerodrome Reference Point turbines of 86.5m high in this location are predicted to be visible to Glasgow radar and will therefore generate unwanted returns (clutter) on air traffic control screen.”

It added: “Clutter here would affect traffic from the west bound for Glasgow Airport, impacting capacity at the airport during peak periods and adding up to 10 nautical miles to commercial lights.

“It is also close to a local flying area and as such experience a high volume of general aviation traffic. There would be an increase in the complexity and workload for air traffic controllers and their ability to detect unknown aircraft or potential zone infringers would be reduced.

“This would reduce the safety assurance that could be provided to aircraft operating in this area.”

The response concluded that there is currently ‘no technical mitigation solutions’ that can be applied to the proposal.

In an email correspondence with the council – published online as part of the planning application documentation – the developers requested that the their application be ‘put on hold’ until they can confirm their intentions for the proposals following a meeting with airport managers.

The council planner added that the consultation response from the airport would form part of the reason for refusal.

A spokesman from Helensburgh Renewables said: “Glasgow Airport’s response to the application for Helensburgh Community Wind Farm is just one of many statutory responses that we are working with.

“Whilst we are disappointed that Glasgow Airport’s objection has come in so late (and especially so considering that they gave us the green light following the submission of our pre-assessment application), a meeting is scheduled with the airport on March 3 to discuss the mitigation options that are open to us.

“The output from that meeting will determine what, if any, amendments may need to be made to the application.”

A spokesman for the Turbines Evaluation Group for Helensburgh and area (TEG-H) said the objection ‘is significant’.

He added: “The airport’s objection adds to the already considerable weight of evidence against the proposed Helensburgh wind farm. Even without the technical nature of the airport’s intervention, TEG-H considers that this wind farm application could pose serious risks to Helensburgh’s character, landscape, economy, and future. It could also adversely impact on the national park and the Clyde estuary.

“TEG-H always seeks to examine evidence carefully before drawing final conclusions. More work needs to be done regarding the strong objection from Glasgow Airport, and TEG-H has started on that work.

“However, at first sight, the aviation factor seems to add importantly to the list of significant risks.”

To view the application visit the council’s planning section on the website and use the reference 14/01674/PP to see the plans.