Articles filed under Safety from UK
Energy companies and the Ministry of Defence have agreed a deal to jointly fund costly radar equipment upgrades, breaking an impasse that threatened to stop several major offshore wind projects in their tracks and blow the Government's highly ambitious renewable energy goals off course. The framework agreement will be unveiled "imminently", according to sources close to the situation. Forged after energy executives infuriated by several MoD objections took their case directly to the Prime Minister ... It is understood that the sides reached the agreement after Gordon Brown stepped in. His administration has made green energy a centrepiece issue.
The lives of young pilots based in Shropshire could be put at risk if controversial plans to build a wind farm get the go ahead, north Shropshire's MP has warned. Owen Paterson MP has written to defence secretary Des Browne calling on him to support objections to the proposed wind farm at Norton-in-Hales, near Market Drayton. In his letter, Mr Paterson expresses concern that the lives of young pilots based at RAF Shawbury could be put at risk by "unnecessary extra dangers" on what is already a demanding course.
Villagers opposing a wind farm near their homes today expressed fears over air traffic safety. Residents of Hilton village near Yarm believe the turbines could cause problems for aircraft flying in and out of Durham Tees Valley and RAF Leeming. ...The Government's policy statement on renewable energy with regard to air safeguarding states: "Any large structure is likely to show up on radar, but wind turbines can present a particular problem as they can be interpreted as a moving object, which is only intermittently seen."
West Norfolk planners yesterday turned down plans for a wind turbine at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital. ...Cllr Bill Daws felt there had been insufficient liaison with the Ministry of Defence and the Air Ambulance before the application was submitted. He also felt the site was too close to the busy Al49. He added: "You have got a 240-feet-high thing sticking out of the ground with a helicopter buzzing around. I don't think that's safe." Fears about the effect of noise on hospital staff and patients were raised by Cllr Roy Groom, who was also concerned about what would happen if the hospital relocated and homes were built on the site.
Military and air ambulance objections could outweigh the green energy advantages of a proposed wind turbine at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The turbine could save the hospital £20,000 a year on its electricity bill but there are fears it would interfere with radar equipment at RAF Marham and endanger landings on the helipad paid for by Lynn News readers. ...Defence Estates, part of the MoD, said: "Following trials in 2005, it was concluded that wind turbines can affect the detection of aircraft flying over or in the vicinity of wind turbines." The RAF could be unable to provide a full air traffic radar service in the area of the wind turbine.
Airport bosses are to demand the Government introduces stricter planning rules which would force wind farm developers to consider radar concerns when applying to build turbines. Newcastle Airport is in consultation with Government officers in an attempt to end the costly legal battles which could threaten the airport's expansion. With more than £400m a year brought into the North East economy through the airport, staff believe the time has come for developers to consider the wider impact of their airspace- restricting turbines. Aviation groups are currently fighting a legal battle against three energy companies which want to build 59 turbines north of Hexham.
Planners who approved the building of seven massive new wind turbines on the Northumberland coastline may be forced to re-consider the decision after their council failed to follow the correct procedures. The proposed turbines at Blyth Harbour - six of them 125 metres high and the seventh the tallest land-based turbine in Europe at 163m - were given the green light by Wansbeck councillors two months ago, despite strong opposition from Newcastle Airport. Airport bosses say the giant structures could cause interference on air traffic control radar screens and pose a potential threat to aircraft safety.
Touted as a viable alternative to coal, gas and nuclear, the bid to cover the UK in wind turbines is now facing mounting opposition. Not only are they under attack from their neighbours, airports, and tourist attractions they are also coming under fire from the military. The Ministry of Defence has already opposed at least four wind farms in Northumberland, saying they make it impossible to detect aircraft flying overhead. Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the chief of the defence staff, insists the UK's radar capabilities must not be impaired. At a public inquiry into plans for 18 turbines at Middlemoor near Alnwick, these objections were raised.
The Ministry of Defence is blocking 13 wind farm developments from the Scottish borders to the Caithness coast because it claims they could create radar "blind spots" which might allow hostile aircraft, cruise missiles or even hijacked passenger jets to creep in under the country's protective screen. It has also lodged objections to 29 other proposed turbine sites in England, including four backed by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, one of the bodies responsible for pushing forward the government's renewable energy strategy. ...In a statement, the MoD said: "We fully support the government's renewable energy policies and consider each development proposal on a case-by-case basis.
Airport bosses and defence chiefs have joined residents in objecting to proposals for a wind farm outside one of the region's villages. Early site tests are being carried out on a scheme to build the 100-metre high turbines on farmland outside West Newbiggin, near Darlington. No official planning applications have been submitted yet, but people living in the nearby villages have vowed to stop the scheme before it goes any further. ...The letter, obtained by The Northern Echo, states: "The principal safeguarding concern of the MoD with respect to the development of wind turbines relates to potential obstruction to air traffic movements and interference to air traffic control and air defence radar installations. "It is possible that wind turbines of the dimensions identified may be in direct line of sight to MoD radar facilities at RAF Leeming."
National air traffic control bosses are to tell a Northumberland wind farm inquiry that allowing the turbines to be built would be disastrous for the environment. The three wind farms planned for the Kirkwhelpington area north of Hexham have already met with objections from Tynedale Council, the Ministry of Defence and Newcastle Airport. ...But their biggest concern is that any change to flight paths will lead to more fuel being needed at a time when the aviation industry is coming under immense criticism by environmental groups for the huge amounts of fuel burnt high up in the atmosphere every day. In documents put before the public planning inquiry into 59 turbines by three energy companies, NATS bosses have warned the wind farms would indirectly contribute to climate change.
Turbines shuddering to a halt across the region in heavy winds are yet another flaw of wind power, opposition groups claimed last night. The structures cease to operate when wind speeds reach a certain level and do not generate electricity. Many wind farms shut down at 55mph, and some at 33mph. Figures released by the Met Office show that in February wind speeds reached 91 miles per hour in Newcastle, 79 mph at Boulmer, near Alnwick and 77 mph at Albemarle in Northumberland. But operators of wind farms in the North East have confirmed that with these strong gusts, there have been occasions when their turbines have been brought to a standstill.
Military concerns could force a radical rethink of the region's wind capacity, the North's top planner has admitted. When Government planning inspectors rule on whether or not to allow 59 wind turbines over three Tynedale sites, their decision will be felt across the region, especially in Northumberland. Officers at the North East Assembly (NEA) tasked with finding the best places to build turbines have previously labeled large parts of the Tyne Valley as acceptable for medium-size wind farms. But an objection by the Ministry of Defence in September meant the Tynedale wind farms were rejected, and the NEA now admits a Northumberland rethink could be on the way.
Defence chiefs have withdrawn their objections to a planned wind farm at the test track of car manufacturer Lotus after deciding that it would not pose a threat to national security after all. The claim by the MOD that the three 120m high turbines would cause "unacceptable interference" to the air defence radar at Trimingham - 32 miles away on the north Norfolk coast - was the main reason why district planners rejected the scheme in November last year. ...MOD spokesman Pragati Baddhan told the Mercury: "The MOD has withdrawn its objection to the Lotus wind farm proposal following a detailed re-appraisal which found that the effect on radar performance at Trimingham is manageable.
Representing the MOD, Ailsa Wilson said the organisation's appearance at Duns Volunteer Hall was the first time they had needed to attend a public inquiry and added that they were satisfied that the correct judgement had been made when the original application was objected to. In her closing statement Ms Wilson reiterated the Ministry's concerns that of the 48 turbines proposed, at least 37 would be in the line of sight of the RAF radar at Brizlee Wood near Alnwick. She added that a windfarm at Fallago Rig would effectively create a 'hole' in detection and said that even losing sight of an aircraft for a minute could be crucial to aviation operations and national security.
Giving his precognition during the second week of the public inquiry into the application by North British Windpower, Squadron Leader Neal Henley, Staff Officer for National and NATO Command Control Capability, said that even though there is 70km between the site in the Lammermuirs and an air defence radar head at RAF Brizlee Wood, near Alnwick, there was still a substantial risk that a windfarm development could disrupt air defences. He described the "significant adverse impact," any turbines could have on radar signals and stated that of the 48 turbines earmarked for Fallago Rig, 35 are calculated to be in the line of sight of the air defence radar.
Supporters of wind energy may be underestimating the seriousness of the damage done to radar signals, and the ease with which problems can be corrected. Not for the first time, they may be guilty of making overambitious claims for the potential of wind power, while countryside champions increasingly rue the way wind farms spoil sweeping vistas. For its part, the Ministry of Defence may be too Quixotic. But this is a genuine conundrum, not a laughing matter. A cost-effective solution must be found quickly. It may be a simple question of coordination and communication. If so, it is high time that different branches of government came together to avoid an unnecessary and potentially damaging conflict.
Ambitious plans to meet up to a third of Britain's energy needs from offshore wind farms are in jeopardy because the Ministry of Defence objects that the turbines interfere with its radar. The MoD has lodged last-minute objections to at least four onshore wind farms in the line of sight of its stations on the east coast because they make it impossible to spot aircraft, The Times has learnt. The same objections are likely to apply to wind turbines in the North Sea, part of the massive renewable energy project announced by John Hutton, the Energy Secretary, barely two months ago. They would be directly in line with the three principal radar defence stations, Brizlee Wood, Saxton Wold and Trimingham on the Northumberland, Yorkshire and Norfolk coasts. Giving evidence to a planning inquiry last October, a senior MoD expert said that the turbines create a hole in radar coverage so that aircraft flying overhead are not detectable. In written evidence, Squadron Leader Chris Breedon said: "This obscuration occurs regardless of the height of the aircraft, of the radar and of the turbine." He described the discovery as alarming.
The Ministry of Defence has been accused of trying to put a "blanket ban" on onshore windfarm development in East Anglia. And in the wake of a succession of high-profile MoD objections to turbines on the grounds of radar interference, leading developers warned they could be forced to scrap future windfarm plans in the region - at great cost to the local economy - unless the planning climate changes. Representatives of four regional companies, Wind Power Renewables, Mellinsus Renewables, SLP Energy and Enertrag UK, will lobby MPs and officials for less prohibitive planning procedures. ...An MOD spokesman said: "We fully support the government's renewable energy policies and targets, and treat each windfarm case on its merits. Objections are only raised when absolutely necessary, and we will always engage with landowners and developers to try to find solutions to any concerns we may have. "However it is vital that we protect our air defence and air traffic control radar from interference from any development which would unacceptably jeopardise national security or the safe movement of aircraft."
The risk of air collisions would increase if plans to build 59 wind turbines close to three radars in Northumberland are approved, the opening of a public inquiry heard yesterday. The Ministry of Defence and Newcastle International Airport (NIA) say structures at three separate wind farms proposed in Tynedale would all be in direct line of sight of their air traffic control radars. They claim the presence of turbines would impact on the operation of those radars - adding to the risk of collisions for pilots and passengers. The three-month inquiry, at Newcastle Airport's Britannia Hotel, was told that there is a "history of incidents" in the busy air space close to where the wind farms are proposed.