MoD drops objections to north Norfolk windfarms

Victoria LeggettThe Ministry of Defence has officially dropped its objections to five offshore wind farms for the Greater Wash - paving the way for �7bn of investment in wind energy.Victoria Leggett

The Ministry of Defence has officially dropped its objections to five offshore wind farms for the Greater Wash - paving the way for �7bn of investment in wind energy.

It follows two years of research and testing to find a way to overcome fears that turbines operating off the north Norfolk coast could interfere with the military radar at Trimingham.

The MoD had objected to licences being granted for a number of wind farms including the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon developments and could have prevented any turbines built there ever being switched on.

The ministry has been working with the wind farm companies, the Crown Estate and Renewable UK, an energy trade association, to come up with a turbine-friendly radar which can be installed at Trimingham.

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Nicola Vaughan, head of aviation at Renewable UK, said: 'It's a proven air defence radar which has been involved in a number of trials, most recently with a Danish off shore windfarm.'

The radar, built by American company Lockheed Martin, will be paid for by the wind farm operators and the government.

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A MoD spokesman said: 'We will always work with wind energy developers to find mutually acceptable solutions wherever possible. We have assessed the proposed radar and are satisfied that it will meet the required specification.'

The five offshore wind farms which the ministry had objected to represent �7bn of investment and stand to deliver more than 3,200 MW of energy to 1.7m homes.

But Ms Vaughan said the building of the radar could open up the potential for even more development in the area if the MoD was content that the radar could cope with those as well.

She said: 'It's really good news for all wind farm developers.

'If the radar is also a solution for those, that could represent 20pc of all renewable energy for the UK as a whole.'

Rune Ronvik, project director for the Sheringham Shoal windfarm, said: 'Of course it's a relief. We have been working on this for two years, one year on this particular solution. It's the end of a long and complex process.

'It's a big achievement for the wind farm industry as well as for the MoD because this problem with wind turbines and radar could happen all along the coast and we have managed to solve it.'

Renewable UK said the radar should be installed and fully operational by the time the Sheringham Shoal turbines are ready to begin turning in late 2011.


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