ANTI-WIND turbine campaigners have expressed concerns that the replacement of the RAF Staxton Wold radar could see the area around Bridlington “inundated” with wind turbines.
The Ministry of Defence has objected to dozens of wind turbine applications because they interfere with the radar at RAF Staxton Wold, but a new deal with energy company EON could see the radar improved so that it will not be affected by wind turbines.
This removes a barrier to the development of EON’s Humber Gateway wind farm, which would see the installation of 73 turbines off the East Yorkshire coast, but campaigners are worried it may also see proposals for onshore turbines around Bridlington and the Yorkshire Wolds approved.
Steve Hey, chairman of the No To Wolds Wind Farm Group, said: “This could open the floodgates for the desecration of the Wolds, it would be a major concern if the MoD stopped objecting to turbines. We feel the time has come to ask the question, will the new radar at RAF Staxton Wold clear the way for onshore turbines or not.
“This will be the million dollar question for the future of the Yorkshire Wolds landscape.”
Mr Hey questioned the value for money of onshore wind turbines, and pointed to a recent announcement by energy supplier SSE that their prices would rise by 9%.
“For those who live in a town and say ‘I don’t mind the look of wind turbines’ I would say, look at who is paying for them.”
The Staxton Wold system is set to be upgraded from a Lockheed Martin T-101 radar to a TPS-77 produced by the same company, and although this upgrade is being fully funded by wind farm developers, a new publicly funded £8 million radar was built at the site in October 2009.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council takes MoD objections very seriously. Two of the largest onshore wind farms facing MoD objections are at Thornholme Field and Fraisthorpe. At Thornholme, near Burton Agnes, developer Wind Prospect hopes to install six 110 metre-high turbines. At Fraisthorpe, TCI Renewables wants to build nine 420 foot to blade tip turbines overlooking Bridlington bay.
Testing for the new radar at Staxton Wold, which sits around 17 miles from Bridlington, looks set to begin in July next year and it should be fully installed in September the same year.
The Serco Group, an international service company, will provide the radar and has a £27 million contract to supply two TPS-77s – one at Staxton Wold and one at Brizlee Wood in Northumberland.
Serco Group chief executive Christopher Hyman said: “Serco’s innovative approach is enabling the delivery of a key programme to the Ministry of Defence while helping address one of the challenges of developing wind farms in the UK.
“We are delighted that we are able to meet the needs of our customer in the Ministry of Defence while fully supporting the wider Government agenda for a low-carbon economy and greater energy security.”