Council asked to comment on windfarm as CoDA warn turbines affect radar

DERRY City Council has been asked to comment on a proposed wind farm just a few miles from City of Derry Airport (CoDA) which the Sentinel recently reported has concerns turbines within 30 kilometres could interfere with airspace surveillance.

Planners have written to the local authority about the proposed wind farm on Brockagh Mountain.

The applicant Matthew Kennedy has advised planners of an “intention to submit an Environmental Statement under Regulation 8 for the erection of a 7 Turbine Wind Farm.” A planning application has not yet been submitted.

The planners suggested: “As an authority likely to be concerned by the proposed development by reason of your specific environmental responsibilities, you have a duty under Regulation 9(1) of the Regulations to make available to the applicant MKA Planning Ltd any information in your possession which the applicant or you consider relevant to the preparation of the Environmental Statement.

“There is no obligation to carry out research or to give confidential information and you may make a reasonable charge for the cost in making relevant information available to the applicant.”

The invitation follows a report in the Sentinel before Christmas that pointed out Londonderry airport was one of the only facilities in Europe without radar due to the shielding effect of the surrounding terrain.

Long-term plans may see radar surveillance at CoDA but there are concerns the proliferation of wind farms within a 30 kilometre radius of the Lough Foyle facility could interfere with airspace surveillance.

A Draft Master Plan document detailing these concerns amongst other airport matters is open for Public Consultation until this Friday, February 15, 2013 with the hope of generating ideas and stimulating debate.

Coincidentally the multinational consultancy firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, which manages Eglinton airport, has considerable experience with wind farms having worked on similar projects around the world.

It was recently commissioned by the Department of Energy in London to undertake a study on ‘shadow flicker’ which refers to the flickering effect caused when rotating wind turbine blades periodically cast shadows over neighbouring properties.

Its study found that “the frequency of the flickering caused by the wind turbine rotation is such that it should not cause a significant risk to health.”

The CoDA airport masterplan pointed out that wind turbines can have a negative effect on airport surveillance and that it will be necessary to safeguard potential radar sites near the currently radar-less CoDA.

Part of this safeguarding will involve a watching proposed new wind farms in the area.

The plan reveals: “It is essential that wind turbine developments do not occur on sites that may degrade the performance of the future radar surveillance systems at CoDA.

“CoDA will work closely with the planning authorities to ensure that the future growth, and ability of the airport to contribute to economic growth in the region, is protected.”