Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wind and fury

Peel Airports, part-owners of the former Sheffield City Airport and owners of the slightly more active Finningley (sorry, Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield), have lodged a curious objection to a proposed wind turbine at the Advanced Manufacturing Park on the Sheffield/Rotherham border.

The Star reports:
AIRCRAFT could be put in danger by a giant wind turbine set to be built near Sheffield airport, it was claimed today.
Worried aviation bosses fear the 270ft high structure, with 90ft blades, could potentially lead to a disaster near Sheffield Parkway.
Peel Airports says the turbine, near the approach funnel for the runway, would "constitute a serious obstacle to the safe operation of aircraft".

The curious thing is that Peel has done pretty much all it can to stop planes flying into Sheffield City - last time I spoke to them, their plans involved a massive expansion of the business park and housing across the runway, retaining only a heliport. Their investment in the site during the run-up to their development of Finningley raised a few eyebrows at the time. (To be fair, Sheffield City Airport was never an entirely viable venture - it seems typically Sheffield endeavour to have an international airport with a runway too short to take most commercial aircraft).

Knowing the topography of the site, I'd also guess that any plane in danger of hitting a 80m windmill (which is, after all, outside the approach funnel) would also be in danger of scraping trucks on the nearby Parkway dual carriageway. Or, with a sudden gust of wind, reenacting 9-11 on the Tinsley twin towers (each barely 4m shorter than the proposed windmill).

Local residents are also reported to have objected about the plans, which they believe will lead to an overbearing presence and possible noise pollution. Yes, keep those unsightly windmills off our slagheaps! God knows what they'd say if anyone threatened to re-open the collieries, or even to fly planes over their heads.

I'd love to see a wind turbine on the site, particularly if the Tinsley towers are finally demolished. It'd be a great landmark for Sheffield, and a statement of intent for the new Factory of the Future development which will have a large focus on developing more environmentally-friendly technologies.

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