Military retreat is good news for energy savers

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FARMERS and householders in the Eskdalemuir area have been given clearance by bosses at the Ministry of Defence to install certain types of wind turbines, writes Sally Gillespie.

Under MoD guidelines, now relaxed, turbines were banned for fear they interfered with senstitive nuclear test monitoring equipment close to the isolated village.

Recent research at Keele University shows that some turbines of up to 50KW capacity, produce only a little ground vibration, which would not affect nuclear monitoring appliances.

At the turn of the year, the MOD said it would look at smaller turbines case by case.

Sam Toon, a research associate at the applied and environmental geophysics research group (AEG) at Keele University, said: “Following on from the work we did, it has come down to where each individual type of turbine will have to be tested to make sure they are okay.”

But the process can be pricey for individuals and he suggests manufacturers should foot the bill. He said: “We are hoping manufacturers will come to us to get the turbines tested.”

The MoD last year banned wind farms within a 31-mile (50km) radius of Eskdalemuir, the UK’s only nuclear test monitoring station, claiming the permitted vibration level within the zone had been reached.

Whitehall said any breach would affect the station’s ability to record underground nuclear testing, as agreed by the UK government as part of the United Nations’ Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The relaxation should be good news for Tony Clay, who challenged Scottish Borders Council after he was initially turned down for a single 15-metre structure to provide power for his house in Midlem. But the turbine he wants to install has not yet been tested by AEG. His case is with the Scottish Government. The government’s reporter agreed to hold off on hearing Mr Clay’s appeal for three months until the type Mr Clay planned to use is tested. But Mr Clay said: “It’s starting to look a bit iffy that AEG are going to get the testing done in time”.

Carlisle-based renewables experts H&H Bowe, is working with people in the area interested in renewable energy. The firm’s Alistair Fell said: “As we understand it, AEG are able to provide written confirmation to the Defence Estates that these models produce only low level vibrations. In turn, the DE will confirm to the local planning authority and any relevant parties that the MOD will not raise an objection or will withdraw existing objections to planning proposals.”

A free H&H Bowe renewable energy seminar takes place next Thursday (March 10) at 7pm in Lockerbie’s Summerton Hotel. To book a place, telephone the firm on 01228 406206.