New radar at Trimingham leads wind farm boost

A new era of wind farms could soon be springing up across Norfolk through the installation of a 'turbine friendly' radar on the county's coast.

The American-built piece of kit will be stationed at Trimingham and should be in place by November.

It will replace the current military radar, which the Ministry of Defence feared would be affected by wind farms in the Greater Wash area and led the government department to lodge objections against five projects.

But the new technology has allayed concerns and now has the potential to open further sites for wind farm development, which would have otherwise been overlooked for fear of MoD objections.

Broadland MP Keith Simpson thought developers may now revisit areas previously considered out of bounds.

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'I could well see that it might open up areas, which they themselves had ruled out,' he said. 'I think it's something that could effect further development of wind turbines and effect virtually every constituency in Norfolk.'

Mr Simpson said he was not trying to 'raise the panic level' if more land was opened up to turbines, but thought wind energy was something that could not be ignored.

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He added: 'I accept the fact that you can't just dismiss the role of wind farms and wind turbines; there's no doubt they can contribute to the overall energy requirements of the UK.'

The radar will cover offshore wind farms, including the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon developments, that are expected to generate up to 2.5 gigawatts of energy - enough to potentially power 1.3 million homes for a year.

Rune Ronvik, project director for Sheringham Shoal, said at the time the radar was agreed to be installed that it was a 'relief', as his company and others had been looking for a solution to the radar problem for two years.

'It's a big achievement for the wind farm industry as well as for the MoD because this problem with wind turbines and radar could happen all along the coast and we have managed to solve it,' he added.

Others, however, were sceptical about the effect the radar may have on future projects.

John Constable, a director at the Renewable Energy Foundation - a charity which champions the consumer - said: 'Whether or not there's going to be a massive growth in the applications, I'm not sure.

'The industry may (think) a solution is still, to a degree, uncertain and maybe waiting to see what happens at Trimingham.' He added: 'I think the principle beneficiaries will be those with consent but pending radar issues.'

According to Renewable UK, the trade body for green energy, there are seven wind farms in the planning stage within Norfolk - including Docking Shoal and Race Bank off the north coast - and a further four projects with consent.

This is on top of two developments currently under construction and four wind farms already operating.

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