Two companies, including a firm looking to put sixteen massive generators in rural Northumberland, have reached a deal which will see an aviation obstacle cleared for themselves and potentially other developers.
An anti-wind campaigner who fought the county scheme last night said the deal would pave the way for that project to proceed, and voiced fears of many more turbine bids as a result.
The deal has been reached by developers Vattenfall and SSE, with air traffic services company NATS.
It will see work carried out to two air traffic control radars, at Great Dun Fell in the North Pennines in Cumbria, which covers the North East, and Lowther Hill in the Southern Uplands of Scotland.
The work will address fears of turbines showing up as clutter and being mistaken for aircrafts, which have in some cases seen wind farm bids fail, and allow the developers’ projects to proceed.
Vattenfall’s planning application to site 125m turbines on the Ray Estate near Kirkwhelpington had faced objections from both NATS and Newcastle International Airport over the impact on the Great Dun Fell radar.
Approval was given in 2010 with a condition that the scheme could not proceed until the radar obstacle had been overcome.
Campaigner Bill Short, who opposed the Ray scheme, last night said he expected it to now proceed and voiced fears that the work to the Great Dun Fell radar would pave the way for other projects.
Mr Short claimed plans in the offing for up to 100 turbines at Kielder Forest could have been expected to face objections based on impact on the radar, given its location, but that these would now not be forthcoming.
The campaigner said he believed other developers would have been monitoring the radar situation knowing that it was a significant barrier to any turbine scheme, and that they would now seek to proceed.
Mr Short voiced fears for his home county, saying: “Northumberland has done so much already, so much more than anywhere else. And yet they are trying to heap more on us. It is an appalling situation.”
RenewableUK, which represents the wind industry, has hailed the deal as a major advance for the sector, claiming the work to the two radars could be replicated at other sites across the UK.
Chief Executive Maria McCaffery said: “This is another significant step forward for the UK’s wind energy industry, as it creates fresh opportunities to install new capacity in areas of the country which enjoy excellent wind resources.
“It also marks what we hope is the start of a wider process to introduce modifications at other radar stations throughout the UK to unlock even greater capacity.”
The deal follow the deployment of three wind farm friendly air defence radars around the UK, to address Ministry of Defence objections and allow turbine schemes to proceed.
One such radar was installed at RAF Brizlee Wood near Alnwick, allowing the Middlemoor and Wandylaw schemes to proceed.