HC Deb 22 March 2001 vol 365 cc296-7W
Mr. Ben Chapman

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made on the likely effects of siting wind turbines in tactical training areas.[155605]

Dr. Moonie

In principle the Ministry of Defence has no objection to wind farms. The UK has three specially designated Tactical Training Areas (TTA) that are available for authorised military Operational Low Flying (OLF) training. The three TTAs are located in central Wales (LFA7T), north Scotland (LFA14T) and the border region of northern England/southern Scotland (LFA20T). Within these areas military fast jet and Hercules aircraft may operate at heights between 250 ft and 100 ft. In addition, Units make use of these specifically surveyed areas to conduct specialised night training.

Flying down to 100 ft is also authorised over the Electronic Warfare Tactics Range (EWTR), LFA13. The EWTR is a RAF facility made available to other NATO countries on a repayment basis, or under other special arrangements. It is located in the north of England, at Spadeadam, and partially overlays LFA20T, the northern England/southern Scotland TTA. In addition to tactical radar avoidance training, the airspace associated with use of the EWTR is made available for test and evaluation flying, specialised night training and some operational low flying training. Low flying within LFA13 is associated almost entirely with operation of the EWTR.

Conclusions of a study conducted by the RAF Signals Engineering Establishment into the Effects of Wind Generators on Radar Performance were that wind turbines cause interference to primary surveillance radar and harm the ability to detect and track aircraft flying over wind farms. Moreover, the presence of a u[...]lit constructions of significant size would be highly dangerous to aircraft flying down to 100 ft.

In the interests of flight safety, the safety of aircrew and members of the public, it is vital that any hazards to low flying aircraft are minimised . Any extraneous distractions or possible reduction in external support capabilities, such as that provided by ground radar, can have a deleterious effect upon aircraft safety, and thus the safety of aircrew as well as those on the ground.

It is, therefore, MOD opinion that obstacles in excess of 100 ft in height, unlit by night and with the ability to cause interference to radar, have the potential to create an acute safety hazard to aircraft engaged in operational low flying training, tactical radar avoidance training, specialised night flying and test and evaluation flying, however, each case has to be considered on its merit.