Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Turbines 'Will Raise Risk of Air Disaster' Wind Farm Hearing Told of Fears for Flight Safety

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Turbines 'Will Raise Risk of Air Disaster' Wind Farm Hearing Told of Fears for Flight Safety

Article excerpt

Byline: By Brian Daniel

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.

This is used by commercial craft from the airport as well as planes from RAF Spadedam and the Otterburn Ranges.

Thomas Hill, speaking for NIA, said: "At the heart of NIA's objections to the proposed 60 wind turbines is a profound concern to do everything within its power to maintain the highest possible levels of safety in the airspace for which it has responsibilities.

"Ultimately the interest which it is seeking to protect is that of human life. It has concluded that each and all of the proposals before this inquiry have the potential to increase the risks to the safe operation of airspace and, in consequence, to human life acceptably." The MoD told planning inspector David Rose that RAF Spadeadam is the only base in the UK used for training pilots in evading missiles and one of only two in Europe. It has two radars which are used to guide pilots which would be affected by turbines.

The companies seeking to build the wind farms were, meanwhile, critical of the MoD over its late change in stance.

Amec Project Investments Ltd, which is looking to build 20 125-metre turbines at the Ray Estate, said the ministry had raised no objection to its plans, which date back to 1993, until September of last year. …

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