Air traffic concerns block green belt turbine

A lack of mitigation against adverse effects on airport radar systems has led to refusal of a proposed 25-metre wind turbine at a farm in the Surrey green belt.

Heathrow Airport and NATS had objected to the proposal on the basis that the turbine would be detected by and appear as clutter on air traffic control radar within a controlled airspace. They acknowledged that a single turbine lies towards the lower end of potential effects but pointed out that the site was close to an outer zone where the likelihood of infringements made radar clarity particularly important.

NATS had agreed to a mitigation package involving modifications to radar configuration, an approach used elsewhere, subject to a funding and commercial agreement. Finding no such agreement in place and rejecting the appellant’s suggested alternative Grampian condition, given uncertainty over whether mitigation could be delivered within the time limit of a permission, the inspector attributed significant weight to the potential risk to the safety of air traffic.

In his view, this factor compounded identified harm to green belt openness and objectives arising from the proposal. He concluded that the turbine’s contribution to renewable energy production did not amount to very special circumstances to outweigh these harms, and dismissed the appeal as contrary to policy.

Inspector: Tim Crouch; Written representations

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