The Ministry of Defense has taken aim at the plans for a wind farm on Bullington Cross, just south of Whitchurch, near the junction of A303 and A34.

The MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation stated,

“the proposed site sits directly where the Chinook helicopter training unit carry out virtually all of their training and will therefore have a detrimental effect on operations.”

LOW FLYING

The MoD continued, “The turbines will be within low flying area 1 and will unacceptably affect military activities. Low flying areas are tactical training areas made available for military operational low flying training, within which military fast jets and Hercules aircraft may operate to as little as 30 metres separation from the ground and other obstacles.”

They concluded,

“The proliferation of obstacles within this area is not only a safety hazard but also severely impacts on its utilisation for essential low flying training.”

The MoD requested that the turbines, if approved, be fitted with blinking lights.

RADAR AFFECTED

A Chinook Helicopter © Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

The MoD stated that the wind turbines “will be 19.8km and 31.6km from, detectable by, and will cause unacceptable interference to the ATC [air traffic control] radars at Middle Wallop and Boscombe Down respectively.”

Furthermore, the MoD claims that their precision approach radar at Middle Wallop would encounter “track seduction”, which means “aircraft disappearing from the radar”; additionally, the turbine’s blades would create “false plots” that may cause “overload of the radar’s processor.”

However, in January 2012, the MoD claimed that their “two new wind-farm-friendly radars in Northumberland and Yorkshire, replacing existing radars, provide the potential to remove objections to multiple future wind farms.”

But that hope seems to have now, 18 months later, ended in failure.

The MoD told this website that they “[have] not overcome radar issues with wind turbines and indeed the proposed development at Bullington Cross would have a serious impact on the radars listed.”

BATS

Hampshire County Councillor Tom Thacker

Hampshire County Councillor Tom Thacker, who has stated publicly his opposition to the windfarm, posed the question: If the MOD objects to the wind power station, due to its effect on its Radars, [then] what would be the effect on bats?

The MoD told this website that:

“The MoD have never made any association with bats and this is not something included in our assessment process.”

Bats use echolocation and not electronic radar for navigation.


The MoD letter to the B&DBC council expressing their objection to the wind farm is HERE. Information about bats and windfarms is HERE; and about echolocation HERE. A video from the USA about radar that works with windfarms is HERE. Further information about windfarms and radar is HERE.

Comments (3)

  • Mike Stead

    Whilst I have every respect for the UK’s armed forces, the need for diverse, carbon-free UK-based power generation and energy independence from international oil/gas markets must take priority. The UK cannot afford (economically or politically) to sustain wars like in the last decade, therefore the need to train pilots will decrease. There are only a few locations in the county viable for wind power generation, whereas we have thousands of hills in every direction to fly over. Let the MoD find a new location to train pilots – how hard can that be? they shuffle units around all the time in the endless MoD re-organisation, and let’s not forget the recent debacle where 8 special forces Chinooks cost the taxpayer some £500 Million and are still not fully fit for purpose. The MoD is there to serve the taxpayer, and right now we need to plan to keep the lights on and reduce our reliance on foreign energy. Let’s get our priorities right.

  • D M Barat

    If it come to a toss-up between protecting the country and appeasing some muesli-knitters, for me the choice is obvious. The Bullington Cross development is for only 14 Wind Turbines which in supplying enough electricity for some 13,000 households will not significantly release us from the shackles on the international petro-energy conglomerates and the vagaries of the international markets. The amount of carbon saved would be provided by planting a surely more Eco-friendly forest of 13,000 trees. Oaks would be nice.
    ‘The UK cannot afford (economically or politically) to sustain wars like in the last decade, therefore the need to train pilots will decrease.’ as suggested previously is an opinion not born out by the rampant egos and ambitions of our politicians – and who knows where our mutual defense agreements will take us? Who could have predicted our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan in 1999?
    Personally I feel there are far better places for both Wind-Farms and Low-Level flying than around Whitchurch but for the moment I think the MoD has the upper-hand.

    • Mike Stead

      Dear D.M. Barat,

      I do not believe I am suggesting this is an either-or scenario – in choosing to reduce the UK’s dependence on foreign energy we are not handicapping the MoD. If your view was applied to every single wind farm or solar farm across the UK we would never reach any degree of self-sufficiency. We need a diverse mix of energy to remove risk from the supply, which means lots of smaller projects in lots of places. Like I said, there are thousands of similar locations the MoD could use in every direction for training. What is so special about the two square km around Bullington cross? Is it magic air? Are our helicopters and pilots so precious they can only fly in certain places? I hope not.

      Regards, A Muesli Knitter (whatever that is) and former soldier / pilot

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