Radar system costs £20m

FALLAGO wind farm developers are reported to have spent £20 million on a radar system which it is believed will mitigate the problems the 125 metre wind turbines could have created within a few miles of Torness nuclear power station.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 1st September 2011, 7:15 am

Radar interference was the reason given by the Ministry of Defence for originally objecting to the 48 turbine wind farm in the Lammermuirs but after behind the scenes discussions that opposition was withdrawn, developers North British Windpower agreeing to take responsibility for coming up with a workable solution to the problem.

As a result a second public inquiry was held, the Reporter finding in favour of the development and planning permission was finally granted by the Scottish Government in November last year, work starting on the ground very soon afterwards, and the windfarm should be up and running in 2013.

North British Windpower has not confirmed or denied reports that they have bought the £20 million Lockheed Martin TPS 77 radar system but with an expected profit of £875 million (about half of it in the form of a consumer subsidy) over the 25 year lifespan of the windfarm, and the possibility of other energy companies contributing to the cost if it does prove effective, then it will be money well spent for the renewable energy company, who fought long and hard to get planning consent for the wind farm on the Duke of Roxburghe’s land in the Lammermuirs.

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The first of the new mobile radars will be delivered and installed this November in Norfolk, removing military objections to a series of offshore wind farms in the North Sea.

The deal involving a similar mobile radar to be installed in the Borders was reportedly signed in the past fortnight

Local opposition to the wind farm at Fallago Rig was fierce and Mark Rowley, chairman of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus Community Council, who was one of those who led the No campaign, is concerned that it could pave the way for even more wind farm applications in the Lammermuirs and eastern Berwickshire.

He said this week: “North British Windpower reminded the MoD in minutes from a meeting in February, if the mitigation schemes don’t work then their agreement allows them to operate their windfarm anyway - radar black hole or not! So Berwickshire could be left with a radar black hole several miles wide. No one knows if the TPS 77 will provide cover - so far it has only been tested over sea not land. Also no one knows if NBW have “bought” it or whether public money, say from Scottish Government or MoD are contributing to it.

“Why does it matter to Berwickshire? Well aside from the security risk they now tell us that the radar will “free up” around another six windfarms in the area. Given that we are talking about a very small area then Berwickshire will be swamped if we have another six Crystal Rigs, Wester Dods or Fallagos.”

Tests show that wind turbines, with blades about the same size as a passenger jet wing, disrupt the radar systems currently in place around the UK coastline and radar operators cannot always distinguish between aircraft and wind turbines creating ‘black holes’ in the country’s early warning radar system.

A Scottish Governments spokesman confirmed that: “The Scottish Government had no involvement in North British Windpower’s purchase of a Lochheed Martin TPS-77 radar.

“The condition required that NBW agree a mitigation scheme with the Scottish Government in consultation with MoD but the purchase of the radar is a matter between MoD and NBW.”

Lockheed Martin say there are more than 170 TPS-77 radars operational around the world that don’t have a problem with distinguishing wind turbines from aircraft. It is a good solution and it is ready and available.”