SNP ministers have blocked plans for another big windfarm in Moray amid
fears that it would put RAF pilots’ lives at risk.
Military top brass are becoming increasingly worried about the number of
turbines in the region and have told the Scottish Government that a
proposed development near Keith could jeopardise the safety of fast jets
returning to the Lossiemouth base at up to 500mph.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) was fighting to block the plans for
Bodinfinnoch Farm and officials said existing windfarms in the area were
already causing a “significant operational issue”.
Yesterday, the government rejected the proposals – agreeing that it would
cause “unacceptable interference” with radar.
However, Reading-based developer Wind Ventures is not ruling out a court
appeal to try to overturn the decision.
Turbines show up on radar and are difficult to distinguish from small
aircraft. As a result, RAF planes steer six miles clear of them.
But with Typhoon jets due to move to Lossiemouth next summer and the number
of nearby turbines growing, air force bosses said they would struggle to
cope with any further developments.
Under the plans, four turbines on 360ft towers would have been erected at
The proposal was rejected by Moray Council earlier this year but the
developer appealed to Scottish ministers, hoping they would overturn the
In a written ruling, the government said Wind Ventures had argued
successfully that the MoD had managed so far to cope with existing
turbines, but the scheme could not go ahead
“I consider that the incremental loss of operational airspace is a serious
concern to both military and civilian operations, and aviation safety,” a
“The lessons from operational experience are of value, and the risks from
desensitisation, loss of detection and from false alarms are not to be
“I also agree that it should not be the MoDthat has to change its
operations in light of development, but for the appellant (the developer)
to suggest, investigate and implement solutions to resolve conflicts.
“For these reasons, I conclude that the radar interference caused by the
proposed turb ines , particularly in combination with other limitations of
airspace in Moray, would be unacceptable.”
Squadron Leader Michelle Betts has told the government t hat t he airspace
to the south-east of RAF Lossiemouth is “vitally important” to UK defences.
She said more turbines would affect the ability of air traffic controllers
toprovide a safe route to base for aircraft that could be low on fuel.
She also said “clutter” on radar screens could result in genuine aircraft
not being detected properly, and addressing the impact of wind turbines on
air traffic control radar was a “major concern”.
In a further submission, the MoD said the Bodinfinnoch development would
cause “unacceptable further degradation” to the integrity of its radar
readings south o f RAF Lossiemouth.
A spokesman for Wind Ventures said yesterday the company was “considering
the options available”.