The MOD had objected to the planned sites, near the Eskdalemuir seismic array, saying they could interfere with its role in monitoring the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

However, following discussions with the DTI and Scottish Executive, the MOD has lifted its objections and the projects can go ahead subject to normal planning and consent procedures.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said: “Eskdalemuir is an excellent example of how industry and government departments can work together to solve problems that could impede progress towards our energy and environmental goals. It is a welcome boost to our efforts to build a sustainable future energy supply that doesn’t harm the environment.”

The DTI and MOD formed a working group in conjunction with the British Wind Energy Association and commissioned Keele University to undertake a detailed analysis of any impacts from planned turbines. They found that, beyond 17.5km of the seismic array, wind developments will not adversely affect the functionality of the monitoring station.

Following this success, research is now underway to find a way to prevent further MOD objections regarding aviation.

At present, the rotating blades of wind turbines can show up as aircraft on radar screens so any wind farm proposals in the line of sight of a radar are opposed.

However, BWEA members and the DTI are now financially supporting BAE Systems, experts in radar technology, to develop a potential mitigation solution known as the Advanced Digital Tracker (ADT) which will be fitted to a portable radar provided by the MOD.

The ADT has been placed at a site in mid-Wales in the region of four working wind farms of various sizes, scale and models of wind turbines. A variety of aircraft will then be flown over the site and the ADT will register whether the radar can ‘see’ the aircraft while not cluttering the screen with similar images caused by the wind turbines rotating blades.

Chris Tomlinson, Head of Onshore Wind at the BWEA said: “This is the first major step towards developing a technology that can tackle the interaction of wind turbines and radar which currently leads to the sterilisation of a number of potential wind farm sites. The commencement of the flight trials is a signal of ever strengthening links between Government departments and the wind industry as we work together to help meet renewable energy targets.”

By David Hopkins

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