£7 Million Wind Turbines Left Switched Off After Airport Radar Fears

Two £3.5 million wind turbines that were installed half a year ago have still not been switched on following concerns they could interfere with the radar system at the nearby airport, the Telegraph reports.

The blades on the 430 foot turbines in Spondon, Derbyshire have been found to produce a blinking signal on the radar screens at nearby East Midlands Airport, potentially obscuring aircraft.

Severn Trent Water, which owns the turbines, said it was now working with the airport to install extra radar equipment to combat the issue "as soon as possible."

The turbines were originally installed at a combined cost of £7 million, and are designed to produce 10,000 megwatts of electricity.

Locals were furious when the turbines were put up, and now say they have scarred the landscape for absolutely no benefit. One resident told the Telegraph: "The thing is they went up with such phenomenal speed. I can't see why it has been so prolonged.

"If they are not producing energy yet, then they have no benefit. I'm not very impressed with it and it's not good enough. I also think they are hideous and spoil our views."

Another added: "It's the start of May and they're still not spinning. They'd be more use as washing lines."

The spinning blades of wind turbines present a problem for airport radar systems as they appear and disappear from radar screens, thus making them look like aircraft. The National Air Traffic Services (NATS) says that although it does not object to most wind turbine applications, those that are built too close to radar sites can compromise safety.

One solution the problem, only recently developed, is to use a second radar facility at a different angle to cancel out the turbines, but where no such facility exists, wind turbine firms can be forced to pay millions to have one installed. However, sometimes software upgrades are enough to filter out the signal.

A spokesman for East Midlands Airport said: "The airport is currently working alongside Severn Trent Water and a technology provider to install radar technology that will mitigate any effect that their wind turbines will have on the radar at the airport.

"Safety at East Midlands Airport is paramount and will not be compromised, which is why it is essential that the technology is in place, before the turbines can fully operate."

Severn Trent's renewable energy manager, Martin Dent, said that the radar equipment was required as part of the planning permission for the turbines.

"Even though they are located 10km (6 miles) from the airport, the turbines are still within the controlled airspace of East Midlands and therefore they need to have some specialist equipment fitted to enable them to run."


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