Anger at MoD blocking wind turbines on Uist 4/6/13
The Ministry of Defence
(MoD) is attacking the fragile economy of the Western Isles by imposing a blanket
ban against wind turbines, according to the isles' council.
Military radars based in St Kilda are affected by turbines over 50 miles away on
Uist as are the air defence radar - one of just six in the UK - based at Clettraval,
North Uist, maintains the MoD.
The MoD says they create extra clutter and interference making it more difficult
to tell the difference between between individual turbines and planes in addition
to reducing the ability to track the unknown aircraft.
Serious concerns were expressed today at Western Isles Council over rise in objections
to virtually all planning applications for wind turbines on the Uists.
Bids by community groups and village halls to erect small turbines to raise income
for local facilities or to cut their running costs as well as applications by island
crofters are often blocked.
At present the MoD wants to stop Scottish Water build a total of 12 turbines at its
treatment plants at Market Stance, Benbecula; Stoneybridge, South Uist as well as
Lochmaddy and Bayhead on North Uist.
Planning applications for some of the 21.5 metre high machines were debated at the
planning committee of Western Isles Council.
Councillors deferred making a decision to see if Scottish Water would launch a test
case appeal if its applications were refused planning officials recommend.
Alternatively, some councillors suggested approving the turbines and then wait and
see what the MoD does next.
Council leader Angus Campbell said the MoD have an "almost automatic objection to
any turbines going up in Uist at all."
He said to have any chance of stopping the objections the council has to approach
the MoD top brass and appeal to politicians rather than officials.
He also "encouraged applicants to appeal" against refusal to test the strength of
the radar concerns.
Cllr Archie Campbell warned the MoD stance risked "crashing" plans by the North Uist
Development Trust to erect two turbines. The profits would be used to fund local
Mr Campbell said the island's MP Angus Macneill could help in the fight.
He said the "MP played an important role in talking to Ministers and in getting to
the MoD" when the South Uist rocket range was under threat, and believed a repeat
effort could assist.
The MoD objection said: "From an operational perspective, we are more likely to object
to a turbine if it is in an area where there is already intense turbine proliferation
and less likely to object to a turbine if it is in an area where there is little
or no turbine development.
"This is because the number of turbines in any given area increases the risk of false
returns and of radar desensitisation in that area.
"Our air defence experts comments that we can “only operationally deal with so much
turbine development, and these plus other radar line of sight in-planning turbines
within concentrated areas are now an unacceptable cumulative impact."