MP backs gliding club’s wind farm objection

ERECTING four additional wind turbines near the Tesco store in Ramsey would put glider pilots’ lives at risk, the area’s MP told The Hunts Post this week.

Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire, took to the skies on Friday to see at first hand how turbulence from the four proposed turbines could affect the safety of gliders flow from the Nene Valley Gliding Club at Upwood.

The 93-metre span turbines would be less than four kilometres from the club’s base, and would put pilots in mortal danger from turbulence, the club’s deputy chairman, Peter Valentine, has told The Hunts Post.

“We fear that we would have dead pilots on our airfield,” the retired aeronautical engineer said. “We could not risk that, so it would mean closing the airfield.”

The problem, Mr Valentine explained, is the unknown cumulative effect of four turbines operating simultaneously.

“A single turbine slows the wind by 60-70 per cent, and the air tries to speed up to the speed of the wind that has not been affected by the blade, so it’s very turbulent and unpredictable, particularly for pilots of light aircraft, such as gliders, because you can suddenly lose lift on one side and fall into a spin.

“To recover from a spin takes a few hundred feet [of altitude], which you haven’t got when you are landing.”

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Mr Valentine says the Civil Aviation Authorities guidance is that wind turbine should not be permitted within eight km of an airfield, and he is urging Huntingdonshire District Council’s planners to refuse the application.

Mr Vara agreed. “I have no doubt that the proposed site for the four turbines is wrong. It’s clear that the proposed site is a danger to life.

“I have suggested to the club that all councillors and officials who have anything to do with the application should be taken up to see the enormous danger to life that would occur if the turbines were allowed to go ahead.”

Mr Valentine says there is a further risk, that of a tow-line breaking before a glider is released by the tug aircraft, when the powered plane must turn right and the glider left – potentially into the path of the turbine blades.

If the club had to close, young people in the area would lose a key opportunity, Mr Vara added. “The club is a very good resource for young people in an area that does not have a huge amount of activity for young people. It would be devastating if it had to close.”