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    Military feared my 30ft wind turbine would ruin search for nuclear blasts

    September 18, 2023 - By John Paul Breslin


      AMBER Swinton thought there was nothing controversial at all about making her cottage ecofriendly with a wind turbine.

      But the homeowner was left gobsmacked when military chiefs vetoed the plan - claiming it could stop them detecting nuclear bombs.

      The Ministry of Defence (MOD) raised concerns over the proposed turbine near Ms Swinton's cottage in Hawick, Roxburghshire, saying it could interfere with sensitive equipment at Eskdalemuir Seismological Recording Station.

      This was despite the fact it would have been no more than 34ft (10.4 metres) in height and almost 19 miles away.

      The normally unmanned station, between Moffat, Dumfriesshire, and Hawick monitors the sound of underground nuclear testing across the world to ensure countries comply with international agreements.

      MOD chiefs argue the 'quota' of vibrations it can allow nearby turbines to create before the station's equipment stops working has already been used up.

      Ms Swinton said she finds it odd that her application was opposed given the development of a wind farm near her cottage.

      The Pines Burn wind farm is less than a mile to the north and already has permission to erect 11 turbines, each up to 500ft high.

      Planning documents state that the southern part of the Pine Burns site lies within the station's 16-mile exclusion zone and the rest lies in the Statutory Safeguard

      Area. There has also been a scoping exercise undertaken for a potential wind farm to be built less than six miles to the east.

      It would consist of as may as 80 turbines up to 650ft high.

      Ms Swinton said: 'Naively I thought that when the Pines Burn wind farm was granted I would find it easy to get permission.'

      She added: 'The MOD won't even communicate with me.

      'It seems unfair that the simple person trying to do the right thing can't even get a small turbine because the big guys have used up all the quota.

      'I asked the MOD if they could put me in a queue so that if the quota changes and there is an opportunity I could maybe be considered. I haven't heard anything back.'

      Established by the UK Atomic

      Energy Authority in 1962, the Eskdalemuir station is the only facility of its kind in the UK, and fulfils the Government's obligation to monitor countries' compliance with the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

      In addition to recording earthquakes, seismic arrays are able to record the unique signature associated with nuclear explosions.

      The MOD has previously argued that too many turbines in the vicinity of the station would create enough vibrations to interfere with its recording equipment.

      As early as 2010 it said the safe maximum had been reached.

      Ms Swinton entered the application for the turbine as part of the development of her eco-friendly cottage in Hawick, which is being built using straw bales.

      She built the home next door to her parents so she could be closer to them. Ms Swinton hopes that rather than being carbon-neutral, the two-bedroom home will be so efficient it will actually work out carbon negative.

      An MOD spokesman said: 'Research has confirmed that wind turbines of current design generate seismic noise which can interfere with the operational functionality of the array {the Eskdalemuir station}.

      'The MOD must, therefore, object to this application due to the unacceptable impact the proposed wind energy development would have on the operation and capability of the array.'

      'The MOD won't communicate' 'I thought permission would be easy to get'


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