MoD objection to turbine plans

Wind turbines sited at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will cause “unacceptable interference” to radar installations at RAF Leuchars, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Although the air base is 27 miles from the Cobden Street factory, the MoD fears the 426-feet high turbines could create “false” aircraft returns which their air traffic controllers must treat as real.

In the letter Margot Williams, assistant safeguarding officer with the defence infrastructure organisation, points out that turbines have had a detrimental effect on radar’s performance in the past.

She said: “The desensitisation of radar could result in aircraft not being detected by the radar and therefore not presented to air traffic controllers.

“Controllers use the radar to separate and sequence both military and civilian aircraft and in busy uncontrolled airspace radar is the only sure way to do this safely.

“Maintaining situational awareness of all aircraft movements within the airspace is crucial to achieving a safe and efficient air traffic service and the integrity of radar data is central to this process.”

Ms Williams added that “false” aircraft displayed on radar would create more work for both controllers and aircrews and could have a “significant operational impact” on the base.

She said: “Furthermore, real aircraft returns can be obscured by the turbine’s radar returns making the tracking of conflicting unknown aircraft much more difficult.

“If the developer is able to overcome the issue, the MoD will request that all turbines be fitted with 25 candela omni-directional red lighting or infrared lighting.

“MoD safeguarding should be notified of the progress of any planning applications or submissions relating to this proposal to ensure that it does not adversely affect defence interest.”

Tayside Police has also asked for an independent survey to be carried out to ensure the turbines do not affect its own radio signals.

Force solicitor Annice Newlands said: “The proposed location for the wind turbines is within 500 metres of the Tayside Police Microwave path facing Montrose.

“To ensure that the proposed wind turbines do not pose any risk to our link from Rossie School Farm and the police station on George Street, Montrose, I would recommend that a path analysis be carried out by an independent body. The cost of this investigation should be fully met by the individual making the application.”

A GSK spokesman said the MoD had been contacted by the company’s consultants when its environmental impact assessment, to accompany its planning application, was being compiled. No objections were raised at that time.

He said: “The MoD was contacted as one of the bodies to be consulted by statute as part of the environmental impact assessment.

“Although no objections were raised during this process, GSK’s planning consultants will contact the MoD in light of the objection made to Angus Council in response to the formal planning application being submitted.

“The consultants will seek to better understand any objections raised and will examine options for mitigating concerns.”

The company hopes the turbines will help to make the Montrose plant carbon neutral by 2014.