Windfarm work halted until radar agreement reached

Work on the Govals scheme has been halted until an agreement can be reached with the MoD.
Work on the Govals scheme has been halted until an agreement can be reached with the MoD.

A row over radar might end hopes for a six-turbine windfarm development near Forfar.

The Govals windfarm, near the A90 Dundee/Arberdeen road close to Gateside, was originally refused in May 2013 before being successfully appealed.

The application was approved by a Scottish Government Reporter in December the same year although 22 planning conditions were attached to the proejct, which included a ban on work starting until a “radar mitigation system” had been agreed with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Such schemes are designed to mitigate the impact of such developments upon the operation of the Watchman Primary Surveillance Radar at RAF Leuchars and the MoD’s air traffic control operations.

The timescale for work to start on the development is December, otherwise the planning application will lapse.

Applicant David Cooper, on the advice of agent Green Cat Renewables, recently proposed an amendment that argued work should be able to start but that no turbines would be built until the radar mitigation scheme was approved.

They said that if work was started and no radar approval was forthcoming in the next four years they would restore all of the land where there was building work, which would have included the laying of new roads, cables and turbine foundations in preparation for the windfarm.

Ray Gibson, spokesman for Angus Communities Windfarm Action Group, said that the applicants and agent had displayed contempt for the planning system by wanting to start work immediately despite the face they had been speaking to the MoD for seven years without success.

He also said that no evidence that a solution was imminent had been provided and that no account had been taken of the concerns of residents who faced the possibility of a double dose of heavy construction traffic and disruption.

Angus Council planning chief Iain Mitchell said: “Through its commencement this development could potentially lead to cumulative capacity being unavailable for other renewable developments to fulfil this contribution within Angus.

“For these reasons the proposed amendment could undermine Angus Council’s ability to contribute towards Scottish Government renewable energy targets and objectives to deliver a low carbon economy.”

It now appears unlikely that agreement with the MoD will be reached before the planning application lapses in December.