Wind turbine approved for near Chatteris Airfield after claims it could endanger parachutists dismissed

Chatteris Airfield is two miles from the proposed site.

Chatteris Airfield is two miles from the proposed site. - Credit: Archant

A wind turbine has been approved on appeal despite concerns it could endanger parachutists at the nearby Chatteris Airfield.

Fenland District Council has given the green light to a maximum height 102m wind turbine on agricultural land at Nightlayer’s Fen, off Long Nightlayer’s Drove, in Chatteris. A sub-station and transformer buildings will also be built at the site, which is two miles from the parachute landing area.

In a letter to planners, Tony Butler, chief operating officer of the British Parachute Association, said: “Whilst it is clear that there is a relatively low probability of a stray parachutist conflicting with the proposed turbine the potential consequences of either contact with the turbine or having to take avoiding action at low level are severe.

“We would urge the council to adopt a precautionary approach and refuse the grant of planning permission for this proposal.”

However, the planning inspector ruled the turbine will “not pose any threat” to parachutists, although they have imposed a condition for the turbine to have red or infra-red lighting.

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Applicant Andy Brand said: “With regard to aviation matters the site is well over the two kilometre separation distance advocated by industry experts.

“The development would also not cause harm to the safe operation of the unlicensed airfield.”

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The council will have to cover part of the costs of Mr Brand’s appeal because they “overlooked the appellant’s evidence related to aviation safety”, the planning inspector said.

The planning inspector added: “The balance of the evidence is that the proposal would not pose any threat to the safe operation of Chatteris Airfield in relation to parachuting or microlights.

“Overall, there would undoubtedly be an impact on the landscape as a result of the introduction of a man-made feature. “However there are many other man made features in the area, albeit not of such a significant height, and the degree of harm would be limited.

“In addition, although the turbine would remain for many years, in the longer term the harmful impact would be reversible.

“There would therefore be limited harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding landscape.”

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