Creation of a windfarm by St Andrews University is being put at serious risk by a delay in agreeing radar mitigation.
The university said it needs to start building the six turbines by March but it has yet to agree with the Ministry of Defence how it will prevent interference with air traffic control at Leuchars.
Planning consent was granted two years ago for the 328ft structures at Kenly Farm south-east of the town, with a condition that no work could begin before measures to protect radar at Leuchars were rubberstamped.
While the RAF has withdrawn from Leuchars, the base is still required to provide a diversionary runway for aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth.
The university said a partner is waiting to take on the project but added: “The question of radar mitigation remains a serious risk to the project.”
A spokesman claimed it was delayed by an MoD project looking at a radar system not even used at Leuchars and said: “The MoD has unfortunately repeatedly missed its own deadlines for resolving this matter.
“We are continuing our dialogue with the ministry and are part of a group of onshore and offshore developers contracting with the MoD and their suppliers to develop and agree on a radar mitigation solution.”
The windfarm will reduce the energy bill of over £5 million for the university.
The spokesman added: “We are confident that we can deliver this, but the timing is in the hands of others.”
However, the MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation said the timing was in the hands of the university.
A spokeswoman said it was assisting the wind industry with the aim of enabling developers to propose suitable mitigation technology, as no proven scheme existed.
She said: “St Andrews University is engaged with this process, but it is down to the windfarm developer to propose an acceptable radar mitigation scheme and the MoD awaits the outcome of proposals from the windfarm developer.”
While it has until next October to begin work before planning consent lapses, the university wants to connect to the grid by March 2017 to quality for the Renewables Obligation Certificate scheme.
It has asked Fife Council to vary the condition and the DIO has agreed to a modification which would permit preparatory work.
However, objectors who live near the site in Boarhills fear this will mean even lengthier disruption during construction and accused the university of sitting on its hands for two years.
John Goodwin, chairman of Kenly Landscape Protection Group, said: “Now time is running out and the university wants to change the rules.
“This is a nightmare for neighbours, who have had this sword of Damocles hanging over them for over five years.
“The university has offered no evidence that a radar solution is in fact imminent.”
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