Villagers fear MOD could halt windfarm

PEOPLE hoping to supply a village with renewable wind energy fear the Ministry of Defence may scupper their plans.The project to build a wind turbine at a farm in Hartest, near Bury St Edmunds, has been put in doubt because it could interfere with military aviation radars, which protect low flying aircraft.

PEOPLE hoping to supply a village with renewable wind energy fear the Ministry of Defence may scupper their plans.

The project to build a wind turbine at a farm in Hartest, near Bury St Edmunds, has been put in doubt because it could interfere with military aviation radars, which protect low flying aircraft.

Residents behind the idea, which was dreamed up more than two years ago by supporters of greener energy, say they will lobby defence chiefs to put the plan back on track.

The turbine would mean cheaper electricity for villagers, as well as those within a 3km radius including Boxted and Stanstead.


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Members of a sub-committee set up to get the scheme started are frustrated after being told their application would not get past the MoD.

Ralph Carpenter, chairman of the Hartest Renewable Energy Group, said: "Suffolk seems to have been blacklisted by the MoD and we have been told any application will not get backing.

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"Over the last two years we have been working hard to investigate all forms of renewable energy, and we are very keen to see our ideas come to fruition in Hartest.

"We had even got to the stage of finding an appropriate developer to take on the project, the aim of which is to have a joint ownership between them and the residents of the village who will be shareholders."

The committee has been told that their only hope is for an upgrade of a computer system at Debden, near Saffron Walden, which will eradicate the problem of radar interference. But have not been given any indication of when this might be.

"We hope that if the outcome of our actions is positive then it might pave the way for other groups wanting to carry out similar renewable energy schemes in Suffolk. We have every confidence that we will get our turbine approved eventually, as long as all the local residents are in agreement that it is the right thing for the village."

Last year the MoD objected to 413 (48%) of the 861 pre-application wind farm proposals submitted throughout the UK, with the response time to developer enquiries from the MoD rising to six months as opposed to a target of three weeks.

Chris Tomlinson, head of onshore wind at the British Wind Energy Association, said: "Both military and civil aviation stakeholders are adopting an onerous precautionary principle which continues to severely constrain wind projects both on and offshore.

"The secret to resolving this issue ultimately lies with the MoD and Department of Transport taking a more active role and becoming genuinely committed to finding a technical solution to dealing with radar concerns."

No one from the MoD was available for comment last night.

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