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Kenly wind farm doubt over required radar mitigation – Updated

Kenly wind farm doubt over required radar mitigation – Updated
February 17, 2016 Danny Scrivener

Kenly windfarm update – Revised radar mitigation condition refused – February 2016

In a decision notice [1] issued 16th February 2016, Fife Council has refused planning permission relating to changing the wording of Condition 18. As mentioned previously, this condition relates to whether work on the site can start prior to agreement of a suitable radar mitigation solution. The decision notice stated the following:

‘In the interests of securing aviation safety and the proper planning of the development; the proposed change to Condition 18 is considered to be contrary to Policy I1 of the St Andrews and East Fife Local Plan in that the Radar Mitigation Scheme is required to be in place prior to work commencing on site in order to retain proper planning control on the development to ensure a viable Radar Mitigation Scheme is secured.’

The developer now has three months to appeal this decision.

[1] Decision Notice 15/03495/EIA. 16 February 2017. (Last accessed 16/02/16).


Introduction

A resolution to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) radar objection for Kenly wind farm is required in the next 8 months to ensure that its planning permission does not expire. Mitigation of the wind farm is necessary due to its effect on the Primary Surveillance Radar (PSR) at RAF Leuchars, which is safeguarded by the MOD. Currently, the developer cannot commence development until a mitigation scheme has been put forward and agreed by the planning authority in consultation with the MOD.

Radar at RAF Leuchars Figure 1: Radar at RAF Leuchars

Planning permission expiration

The planning permission is due to expire in October 2016 unless work on the wind farm has commenced in the meantime. The following quote is taken from the Appeal Decision Notice, dated 04 October 2013.

This planning permission will lapse on the expiration of a period of three years from the date of this decision notice, unless the development has been started within that period… [1]

Work on the wind farm, however, is being held up due to the suspensive planning condition set by the planning authority. The condition will only be removed once a suitable mitigation scheme has been identified and implemented. Any mitigation scheme must be produced by the developer but agreed in advance with the planning authority and MOD to ensure that the solution is possible and acceptable.

MOD radar objection and Kenly wind farm

The wind farm is to consist of six wind turbines measuring 100m to tip and will be located  approximately 13.7km southeast of the PSR at RAF Leuchars. Figure 2 shows the location of the wind farm.

Figure 2: Location of Kenly wind farm

The MOD objected to the wind farm in 2013, stating within their consultation response that the wind turbines ‘will cause unacceptable interference’ upon the PSR on the airfield. Following this, an initial planning condition was drafted [2] which is presented below.

Before any works start on site, a Radar Mitigation Scheme shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the planning authority in consultation with the Ministry of Defence. The Radar Mitigation Scheme shall set out the appropriate measures to be implemented to mitigate the impact of the development on the Radar (see below) and shall be in place for the operational life of the development so long as the Radar remains in operation. No turbines shall become operational until all measures required by the approved Radar Mitigation Scheme are implemented as confirmed in writing by the planning authority. The development shall thereafter be operated fully in accordance with the approved Radar Mitigation Scheme. For the avoidance of doubt, the “Radar Mitigation Scheme” means a scheme designed to mitigate the impact of the development upon the operation of the Watchman Primary Surveillance Radar at RAF Leuchars (“the Radar”) and air traffic control operations of the Ministry of Defence which are reliant upon the Radar. Reason: to ensure adequate measures are in place to mitigate radar interference in the interests of protecting air safety.’

Subsequent to an initial refusal and appeal, planning permission for the wind farm was granted subject to the MOD planning condition presented above [3]. The following quote is taken from the Appeal Decision Notice, dated 04 October 2013 [4].

‘The Ministry of Defence has indicated that the proposed turbines would be within ‘line of sight’ of, and cause interference with, the ATC radar at RAF Leuchars. However, the consultee has no objection to the proposal subject to conditions requiring the implementation of an agreed radar mitigation scheme solution, and the installation of lighting on the turbines…’

In the following two and a half years, the developer has been working on a radar mitigation scheme [5]. However, whilst a developer can submit a solution, the scheme should be approved by the MOD to be discharged. It appears that no mitigation scheme has been approved by the MOD thus far, hence no work on the wind farm has been permitted.

Ways forward

Under the wording of the first planning condition, mitigation will need to be proposed and accepted in the following months to activate the planning permission. The developer has now investigated amending the wording of the initial planning condition [6] such that the first sentence is replaced with the following:

Prior to the commencement of the erection of any wind turbine, a Radar Mitigation Scheme shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the planning authority in consultation with the Ministry of Defence.‘

This wording change would allow for the commencement of building works on site (such as access roads and cable infrastructure), extend the mitigation consultation time with the MOD and activate the planning permission. It appears that this wording change has been accepted by the MOD [7] and the Planning Committee however, it is unknown whether work has commenced on site. Updates on the development will be provided when available.

References

[1] Application for planning permission 11/02799/EIA. Appeal Decision Notice, 04 October 2013. (Last accessed 08/02/16).

[2] Note: only reference to radar issues are presented here.

[3] Note- this was not the only planning condition associated with the planning permission.

[4] Application for planning permission 11/02799/EIA. Appeal Decision Notice, 04 October 2013. Last accessed 08/02/16.

[5] Kenly wind farm objectors fear work could start early, 3 February 2016. Cheryl Peebles in The Courier. Last accessed 08/02/16.

[6] Committee: North East Planning Committee, 03/02/2016. Section 42 Application to amend condition 18 (relating to MOD radar objection). Ref: 15/03495/EIA. Last accessed 10/02/16.

[7] Defence Infrastructure Organisation (MOD) consultation response. MOD reference DIO/SUT/43/10/1/10797, 04/11/2015. (Last accessed 12/02/16).

Image accreditation: “Radar tower” by James Allan via geograph / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Image cropped and resized from original.

Location of Kenly Wind Farm” created by University of St Andrews. (Last accessed 16/02/2016)

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