Call for enquiry into MoD Wind Farm policy: Open Letter to Malcolm Wicks and Des Browne
From: Councillor Andrew Boswell (
Dear Mr Wicks and Mr Browne,
We are writing following the Ministry of Defence's announcement on March 5th that it had withdrawn its opposition to three wind turbines at Hethel in
We welcome the news that this objection has been dropped and hope that this is a positive signal for renewable energy development in
However, just a few weeks ago, the MoD told planning officers at South Norfolk District Council that they could not even guarantee that replacing the RAF Trimingham radar with the latest technology in 2009 would solve the problem. Because of the lack of certainty, even after 2009, South Norfolk Council planning officers recommended refusal at the planning meeting late last year rather than a Grampian planning consent that would have allowed development to procede as soon as the MoD withdrew its objection. We believe that this unfortunate recommendation then 'opened the door' for further delay to this project: because of a vocal (though minority) anti-wind energy campaign locally, the application was subsequently refused on additional grounds that were not made in the planning officer's recommendations. We believe that this outcome would have been unlikely if the recommendations had been for a Grampian consent in the first place. If the MoD had carried out the same detailed analysis in the first place, that has now apparently been done as a 'detailed re-appraisal' following the planning refusal, then much time and money could have been saved.
This indecision and change of mind has been a particularly unnecessary fiasco for the company and to the nation in delaying meeting our renewable energy targets. We believe that it needs investigation given that it has been Government policy for several years that wind energy and national defence radars should be able to interoperate. In July 2005, Mr Wicks, you announced yourself that there was 'a well established collaborative programme of work aimed at enabling wind energy and aviation activities to co-exist in safety'.
We believe that the company and the public deserve an explanation from the Government for the sudden change of mind and the industry needs guarantees that this won't happen again.
We are, therefore, calling on you as the ministers responsible for Energy and Defence departments to launch an enquiry into the MoD advice given on the Hethel application and to ensure that these problems won't happen elsewhere. We request that one outcome needs to be a clear statement of the status of all the wind applications both those to which MoD have previously objected and also on vital new projects such as the large offshore farm being planned ten miles out to sea from Sheringham, North Norfolk.
We hope that you take our concerns seriously and we look forward to your response.
Councillor Andrew Boswell (