Court upholds MOD objection to Northumbria wind farm

31 July 2002 – UK wind farm developer EcoGen was yesterday refused permission to appeal against an earlier decision which backed the Ministry of Defence’s objections to the construction of an 80 turbine wind farm near Kielder Forest in Northumbria.

Stephen Byers, then trade and industry secretary, opposed the scheme last year after the Ministry of Defence raised concerns about the effect that the 260ft turbines would have on radar systems and low-flying aircraft using the nearby Spadeadam electronic warfare tactics range.

The MoD has opposed a string of other projects on similar grounds, including five of 18 proposed offshore wind farms regarded as crucial to plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The MOD has also objected to two offshore wind sites in the Irish Sea because of radar interference fears.

Kielder, in Northumberland, is near a military low-flying area but EcoGen argued that the government had given the go ahead to a wind farm at Cafn Croes in Wales, which he said, was also in a low-flying area.

The Kielder project would raise England’s onshore wind generation capacity by 70 per cent to 190 MW from 120 MW presently installed. Ministers want at least 10 per cent of Britain’s electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2010, compared with the current level of less than 3 per cent. Much of this is expected to come from wind power.

The government is relying on the expansion of wind power to boost the use of green energy and cut emissions of greenhouse gases, cited by many scientists as a key contributor to global warming.

Tim Kirby, EcoGen’s managing director, said he was disappointed by the decision by Lord Justice Laws and Lord Justice Parker and would seek a meeting with the government to review the scheme’s prospects. If necessary, the company would submit an application for a smaller scheme in a bid to force a public inquiry. He said the existing proposals would have added 70 per cent to England’s wind generation capacity.

Ecogen is owned by a group of private shareholders including, UK engineering group AMEC.

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