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BAA withdraws objection to wind farm near Glasgow airport


BAA has withdrawn its objection to a plan for the UK's largest wind farm, to be built near Glasgow Airport. The decision comes after BAA, working closely with National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and ScottishPower, developed an innovative solution to an air-traffic control problem caused by the wind farm.

The move means that ScottishPower's planned £150m wind farm at Whitelee - on the outskirts of Glasgow; to be one of the largest wind farms in the world - could be given the go-ahead early next year, and could be fully operational by 2009. The new wind farm would cover 21 square miles; it will provide enough power for about 200,000 homes - or half of nearby Glasgow's energy needs.

The wind farm plan, on a remote moorland, has received about 40 objections, a much smaller number than similar plans elsewhere in Scotland. BAA has opposed the plan for the past 2 years amid concerns that the 140 giant turbines could make planes coming in to land at Glasgow airport on a key approach 'disappear' from radar screens. However, BAA has now withdrawn its objection, allowing the project to move to its final stage of consent.

The original plans for Whitelee on Eaglesham Moor would have seen the farm's wind turbines appear on airport radar systems at Glasgow in the same way as aircraft. An additional primary radar system costing about £5m will be built at Kincardine in Fife to track aircraft directly above Whitelee. Data from Kincardine will be fed into a new radar display system at Glasgow where it will be merged with the data from the existing radar to provide an acceptable service for air traffic control.

BAA says the system has been tested successfully in recent months and is thought to be the first of its kind to be implemented. It is believed it could offer a solution to similar problems throughout the world.

ScottishPower says the project will save about 650,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum, which is equivalent to about 240,000 car emissions. The company will also build a network of cycle paths and a visitor centre at the site.

If it goes ahead, ScottishPower anticipates starting construction next summer, with the first turbines arriving late 2007 and the first export occurring in January 2008. The whole site is expected to be completed by the summer of 2009.

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