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Airfield says planned weather radar tower 'hazard to all aircraft'

PUBLISHED: 16:14 29 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:14 29 January 2020

Old Buckenham airfield manager, Matt Wilkins, who branded Met Office plans for a 28m radar tower as

Old Buckenham airfield manager, Matt Wilkins, who branded Met Office plans for a 28m radar tower as "completely nuts". Picture: Denise Bradley

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A planned weather radar tower would be a "hazard to all aircraft" and limit options for pilots in an emergency, Old Buckenham Airfield has warned.

Location of the proposed weather radar tower on Abbey Road, close to Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: GoogleLocation of the proposed weather radar tower on Abbey Road, close to Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: Google

A 10,000-word objection to the Met Office plans submitted by the airfield also states the 28.5m tall tower would "increase the risk of harm to pilots, aircraft passengers and to people on the ground which could require current activities to be curtailed".

The Met Office, which currently operates 16 weather radars in the UK, is proposing to build the radar at an Anglian Water compound off Abbey Road, close to the runway at Old Buckenham, to aid snow and flood forecasting.

Richard Bennett, Met Office senior project manager, said: "It is not unusual for radar to be located adjacent to or on airports and our application is supported by numerous assessments and surveys including an aviation report by a highly experienced aviation consultancy."

The proposed Met Office weather radar would be on a 28m high tower. Picture: Met OficeThe proposed Met Office weather radar would be on a 28m high tower. Picture: Met Ofice

Matt Wilkins, aerodrome manager at Old Buckenham, said the plans had not addressed its concerns and that he hoped discussions with the Met Office could still see changes.

The airfield's own detailed planning submission to Breckland Council says the status of the airfield, which hosts the biggest air show in Norfolk and Suffolk and is home to a war memorial to US servicemen, would be harmed.

It highlights five further areas of objection, including safety, adherence to planning policies, and the impact of its future development.

Entrance to the Anglian Water compound on Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, where the Met Office weather radar would be sited. Picture: Met OficeEntrance to the Anglian Water compound on Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, where the Met Office weather radar would be sited. Picture: Met Ofice

On safety it argues the radar tower would penetrate the 'runway obstacle limitation surface', an imaginary flat plane established around every licensed aerodrome.

It states: "It provides an area free of obstacles in the area where intensive aircraft activity at the critical points of take-off and landing take place. An obstacle of this type would be a hazard to all aircraft and could limit the opportunities for flying, particularly flying training.

"It would limit options open to pilots in an emergency as they would be unable to return to the runway from the south. Any such limit in an emergency, for example when there is an engine failure, significantly reduces the opportunity to land an aircraft safely."

Carleton Rode Parish Council has objected to the plans stating it had not been included in the consultation process for the application. Old Buckenham Parish Council has asked for an extension to the January 30 deadline for planning comments.

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