Britain: Ministry says wind turbines a 'security' risk

February 21, 2008

Britain's ministry of defence (MoD) has objected to proposals for new wind farms on the basis that wind turbines interfere with its radar equipment.

A February 4 British Times article reported: "MoD tests conducted in 2004 and 2005 showed that wind turbines create a 'hole' in radar coverage [which prevents aircraft from being seen]."

According to the article, the MoD "now objects to almost all wind farms in the line of sight of its radar stations".

The article said that the MoD had "lodged last-minute objections to at least four onshore wind farms in the line of sight of its stations on the east coast" and that "the same objections are likely to apply to wind turbines in the North Sea, part of the massive renewable energy project announced by John Hutton, the Energy Secretary, barely two months ago".

Chief of defence staff, Jock Stirrup, denied that all wind farms will be objected to, arguing that the MoD was "committed to government targets for renewable energy".

However, Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) argued: "The technology already exists to allow radar operators to distinguish between flying planes and wind turbines as used in places like Denmark. The technical issues are not insurmountable but the industry has been frustrated by 11th-hour objections and inconsistent advice from the MoD."

A report by the BWEA released on January 29 predicted there could be up to 200,000 jobs in an expanded British wind energy industry. According to McCaffery, "Wind energy is the next North Sea Oil. Britain could be a world leader in renewable energy if we have the will to make this vision a reality."

Any major winding back of, or moratorium on, wind farm construction in Britain would be a substantial blow to achieving emissions reduction targets in the region.

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