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Wind Farms

Volume 407: debated on Monday 23 June 2003

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12.

What assessment he has made of the impact of offshore wind farms on MOD radar systems; and if he will make a statement. [120553]

Ministry of Defence officials are involved with the Department of Trade and Industry, the Civil Aviation Authority, National Air Traffic Services and the British Wind Energy Association in a group that is addressing the effects on radar of both onshore and offshore wind turbines.

I thank the Minister for his reply, but how long is it likely to take before that group reaches a firm conclusion about the impact on radar of offshore wind farms, and why does it not seem to be a problem for other European countries? What is the difference between British radar systems and those of other European countries?

I know that my hon. Friend has a long history of asking questions on these matters. I can assure him and the House that every proposal received by the Ministry of Defence is given a full appraisal by at least seven separate technical advisers, each with their own specialism. The test is case-by-case consideration of the effect of proposed developments on the ability to train our pilots safely and also their effect on operational capability.

I congratulate the Minister on his appointment, but is he aware that both the Crown Estate and the Atomic Energy Authority have made applications for many offshore wind turbines on the Wash and off the Norfolk coast. What evaluations have been made of the potential impact of those turbines on Ministry of Defence radar and on the RAF bombing range in the Wash?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that all those matters are taken into consideration. That is why we are making assessments. I can also tell the House that, of the 200 applications for offshore wind farm proposals received between November 1996 and last month, the Ministry of Defence only objected to 37 on safety grounds.