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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Turbine go-ahead ‘would damage UK’

TWO proposed windfarms near Longtown could damage the UK’s standing in the world, according to the Ministry of Defence.

The MoD made the claim at a public inquiry into the developments, earmarked for land outside the town.

William Upton, for the department, said vibrations from them would affect nuclear test monitoring equipment at its seismological array in Eskdalemuir.

He said it was important to make sure the station was allowed to continue monitoring distant nuclear tests. If this was affected, he argued, there would be a negative impact on the UK’s image.

“It would be interpreted internationally as the UK distancing itself from its nuclear non-proliferation commitments. The UK’s reputation as a respected nuclear non-proliferation state would be diminished.”

The two proposed windfarms would be based at Hallburn Farm and Beck Burn peat works with, respectively, six and nine 126 metre (413 ft) high turbines. The first has been put forward by energy firm REG, based in Cornwall, the second was from the renewables branch of power giant EDF.

Carlisle city council denied planning permission to both the developments last year. In both cases they cited the main reason for rejection was the objections from the MoD that “seismic noise” would affect equipment at Eskdalemuir.

However, both firms have appealed. The inquiry was held in the Civic Centre, Carlisle.

Eskdalemuir has an exclusion zone of 10km (just over six miles) around it, in which turbines cannot be built. The MoD must also be consulted about any proposals to erect turbines within 50km (about 31 miles).

The ministry has a “noise budget”, the maximum amount of noise from turbines which will not affect monitoring equipment.

Developments take from this budget on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the full amount has been taken, there can be no further windfarms. Individual turbines, though, can still be allowed.

REG argues that its proposals would not cause problems at Eskdalemuir.

The inquiry was due to finish last Friday and David Rose, its chairman, will now prepare a report for Erick Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government. His decision is expected early next year.

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