Library filed under Safety from Virginia
In a step forward for a proposed wind farm in Botetourt County, the FAA found this week that turbines reaching as far as 680 feet into the sky from the top of a mountain would “not constitute a hazard to air navigation.” It was the second time the agency has determined that the renewable energy project, to be located in a remote and rural spot about 17 miles from the nearest airport, would not pose a threat.
Before construction, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was commissioned to run a model on how the spinning blades, which reach 500 feet in the air, might distort radar signals. The model showed 104 turbines would work, but no more.
Up to 25 wind turbines would pose a “presumed hazard” to aircraft navigation from their perch atop North Mountain, the Federal Aviation Administration has determined.
The FAA found that 14 of the 18 turbines proposed by Invenergy do "not exceed obstruction standards and would not be a hazard to air navigation," according to notices posted on its website.
Matthew Broughton, an aviation lawyer and president of the IFR Pilots Club in Roanoke, said the wind turbines would create a hazard to navigation, particularly when the condition are IFR. Aircraft on IFR approaches to Roanoke usually use runway 6, and Broughton and other pilots say the approach path would take them too close to wind turbines.
The concern is that the turbines would be too close to the landing approach for Roanoke's longest runway. ..."It is a very big safety issue. We are vehemently opposed to it. we don't see any way around it. In our judgment, the turbines have to go somewhere else. They cannot go there."
The airport has two key concerns -- whether the turbines would create safety hazards and whether their presence might eliminate future opportunities to lower the airport's minimum altitude setting as global positioning systems become more sophisticated. Shuck said four of the turbine sites proposed by Invenergy are of special concern.
In a news release Monday morning, Matthew Broughton --president of the IFR Pilot's Club -- said the proposed windmills "present a potentially deadly hazard for pilots and passengers trying to land in the Roanoke Valley." The Poor Mountain approach corridor leads to runway 6 – the longest runway at Roanoke Regional Airport, the one he said is favored by air traffic controllers and pilots during poor weather.
Nearly everyone agrees that some form of offshore energy will help bring much needed jobs to Virginia. ...There is particular interest in energy off the coast of Virginia but environmentalists, and the U.S. Navy, have some concerns. The Navy is worried wind towers and oil rigs could interfere with radar facilities as well as training exercises.
Members of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors are considering a ridge line ordinance that would restrict the development of tall structures along certain protected ridge lines, including Burkes Garden and East River Mountain. Local aviators who use airplanes for business travel say they are concerned that the proposed wind farm could inhibit plans to create a second flight path for landing at the Mercer County Airport.
The boiling Tazewell County windmill controversy may turn into steam where it will either evaporate or become superheated. The Town of Bluefield, Va.'s tall structures ordinance would only affect those structures (including windmills) proposed to be erected within the area of the town's jurisdiction. There is another matter or two that needs to be given some thought. The town apparently has jurisdiction to the apex of the ridgeline but no jurisdiction south of that ridgeline in Tazewell County or Bland County.