Windmills a danger to Britain
Ambitious plans to meet up to a third of Britain’s energy needs from offshore wind farms are in jeopardy because the Ministry of Defence objects that the turbines interfere with its radar.
Giving evidence to a planning inquiry last October, a senior MoD expert said that the turbines create a hole in radar coverage so that aircraft flying overhead are not detectable. In written evidence, Squadron Leader Chris Breedon said: “This obscuration occurs regardless of the height of the aircraft, of the radar and of the turbine.” He described the discovery as alarming.
The discovery has left ministers with a dreadful dilemma. Britain is relying on a huge increase in wind power to help to reduce carbon emissions and so meet targets to prevent catastrophic climate change. But the defence of the skies has become all the more urgent since 9/11 when terrorists shocked America by commandeering four commercial flights.As on one hand the whirlygigs will do bugger all to prevent catastrophic climate change, and on the other hand enemy aircraft are a proven threat to health and happiness, it shouldn't make it a hard choice. But I think I know which way Ministers will go, but they won't allow any near the Houses of Parliament...
President Bush has claimed that the CIA foiled a massacre plot to crash aircraft into the towers of Canary Wharf in East London. If the RAF has to be scrambled to save Britain from such peril, every second of advance warning will count.
The revolution in the Ministry of Defence’s thinking on radar air defence was disclosed by Squadron Leader Chris Breedon in his evidence opposing a new wind farm in North-umbria. “Traditionally, the primary role of the Air Surveillance and Control System has been to detect aircraft approaching the UK from overseas. However, equal, if not more, importance is now given to monitoring UK airspace to detect, track and respond to any aircraft which is giving concern.
“The significance of the low-level radar cover has risen markedly as a result of the terrorist events of September 11, 2001. The MoD is extremely concerned with any proposed wind turbine development which would have an impact on the . . . system.”
Put simply, the operators are less worried about looking for enemy aircraft approaching from overseas. The real threat is over our heads. The full results of the tests remain classified.