Wind farm sparks air traffic radar fears

Scottish & Southern Energy Renewables is said to be working with air traffic control organisation NATS over plans for Europe’s biggest wind farm. The £500m project will be built at […]

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By Kelvin Ross

Scottish & Southern Energy Renewables is said to be working with air traffic control organisation NATS over plans for Europe’s biggest wind farm.

The £500m project will be built at Abington, South Lanarkshire, and has got government approval already, with the first commissioning due next year.

The152-turbine wind farm would generate 548MW, enough to power 320,000 homes. The turbines will be built on either side of the M74.

But NATS raised objections, saying there was a danger that giant turbine blades could jeopardise the ability of air traffic controllers to track planes at Prestwick Airport. NATS claims that turbine blades can appear on radar screens as “clutter,” making it hard for controllers to track light planes.

NATS is one of the biggest objectors to wind farm applications in the country. This month it took those objections into the heart of ‘enemy lines’ when it had a stand at Renewable 2010 in Glasgow. NATS attended the conference and exhibition “to discuss how we’re working with developers to reduce the number of air traffic radar-related objections raised and create mitigation solutions to enable growth in the renewable energy industry without compromising aviation safety.”

The organisation says wind farm developers could save themselves time and money if they talked early to NATS, which could offer an “insight into potential conflicts with air traffic radar systems as well as strategies to resolve these issues”.

This year NATS sliced £1.7m off its energy bill following an overhaul of its electricity buying procedure. NATS hired energy broker Bergen Energi UK to create a bespoke risk-management solution.