Windfarm developers in Moray will in future need to take particular care that their plans do not endanger flights operating out of RAF Lossiemouth.
That was the clear warning from the Scottish Government this week when a long running row over a development near Keith ended with the Ministry of Defence convincing officials that the increasing number of turbines being erected posed a “significant operational issue” for the air base.
Developers Wind Ventures hoped to erect the turbines at Bodinfinnoch Farm but found their path blocked by Moray Council earlier this year. After taking their case on appeal to the Scottish Government, the company – who had been forming their plans for almost 14 years – was told that their plans had again been refused.
Several wind turbine applications in Moray have fallen foul of objections by the MoD, with RAF commanders saying that the increasing number of sites was the cause of serious concern. Wind Turbines show up on military radar systems and are often indistinguishable from aircraft.
In a written ruling the author of the Scottish Government appeal said: “I consider that the incremental loss of operational airspace is a serious concern for both military and civilian operations and aviation safety.
“The lessons from operational experience are of value, and the risks from desensitisation, loss of detection and from false alarms are not to be dismissed lightly.”
The appeal also insisted that while Wind Ventures had argued that MoD had coped with existing turbines it “should not be the MoD that has to change its operations in light of development”, adding that it was the developer who had to investigate and implement solutions to avoid conflicts.
Earlier the appeal had heard from Squadron Leader Michelle Betts the importance of the area to the south-east of RAF Lossiemouth. She said that more wind turbines would affect the ability of air traffic controllers to provide a safe route to the base for aircraft that could be low on fuel.
The imminent arrival next year of Typhoon jets to RAF Lossiemouth is expected to intensify operations around RAF Lossiemouth.