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Wind Turbines

Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of (a) the potential and actual interference of radar by wind turbines and (b) the obstruction that wind turbines represent to low-flying aircraft; how long the assessment has taken; and when the results will be published. [27275]

Dr. Moonie: The RAF has carried out two trials, one in 1994 and one in 1997, both of which found that if a wind farm is in direct line of sight to radar it can have an extremely detrimental effect upon radar performance as the rotating blades can be a source of interference. The turbines can appear as genuine aircraft targets that could either mask aircraft responses or desensitise the radar within the sector containing the wind farm. Shadowing of aircraft at similar radar to target elevation angles as the wind farm may degrade radar performance even further which could be potentially hazardous to air traffic and impede an air defence control situation.

The Ministry of Defence recognised the need for further research and is currently assisting with a DTI sponsored study that is being undertaken by QinetiQ into the effects of turbines on radar systems. This study began in September 2001 and is due to be completed in September 2002.

Military low flying training takes place within the UK Low Flying System below 2,000 ft for fixed wing aircraft and 500 ft for helicopters. Fixed wing aircraft are permitted to fly down to within a Minimum Separation Distance of 250 ft from the ground or any other obstacle, and helicopters are permitted to fly down to ground level. The presence of wind turbines in most areas of the UK would present no difficulty to low flying aircraft and these and other naturally tall structures are taken into account as part of route planning.

In some circumstances, the presence or proliferation of wind turbines may pose a hazard to, or interfere with, military low flying training to such an extent that the training value is negated. The height of the turbines is often in excess of 70 m (approximately 220 ft) to turbine tip. Within the Tactical Training Areas aircraft can be flown at 100 ft above ground level, which is significantly

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lower than the 250 ft minimum that applies to the rest of the UK low flying system. Therefore, for the safety of members of the public and aircrew it is imperative that any hazards to low flying aircraft are minimised, especially those that exceed 100 ft in height.

RAF Menwith Hill

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the SBIRS radomes at RAF Menwith Hill are expected to come on line. [27532]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 16 July 2001, Official Report, column 6W.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the purpose is of the further radome at RAF Menwith Hill for which a planning application has been made. [27531]

Mr. Ingram: The proposed new antenna and radome at RAF Menwith Hill would update equipment currently in use at the base.

Low Flying

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received on the implications for low flying on wind power developments within designated training areas; and if he will make a statement. [27729]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence regularly receives queries from the wind energy industry, members of the public and Members of Parliament regarding the siting of wind power developments within the Tactical Training Areas.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 22 March 2001, Official Report, column 296, to my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South (Mr. Chapman) which states the MOD's policy towards wind turbines in areas where operational low flying takes place.

Expenditure (Dumfries and Galloway)

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much MOD expenditure there was in Dumfries and Galloway region; and what his assessment is of the spin-off benefit to the regional economy in the last 12 months. [27731]

Dr. Moonie: I regret that data on defence expenditure as a whole are not available by region and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, I draw the hon. Member's attention to the recently published document, "Defence Statistics 2001", a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. Table 1.9 contains data on defence expenditure on equipment by region and nation.

Service Deployment

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what United Kingdom forces are deployed abroad, giving in each case (a) location, (b) nature of operation, (c) the end date for the deployment and (d) a statement of Government policy on the deployment. [24989]

Mr. Hoon: I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

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Nancekuke

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer of 11 July 2001, Official Report, column 518W, what was the origin of the substance pralidoxime mesylate which was deposited into the sea off the north Cornish coast when Chemical Defence Establishment Nancekuke was decommissioned. [26628]

Dr. Moonie: Pralidoxime mesylate is used to treat individuals who have been exposed to a range of organophosphorous materials, including nerve agents.

Between the years 1972 and 1997, 54.36 tonnes of pralidoxime mesylate were manufactured on site at CDE Nancekuke. Most of this was supplied to a pharmaceutical company for formulation into standard therapeutic tablets for issue to the services. Any reject or shelf-expired tablets were subsequently returned to Nancekuke for recovery or destruction.

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what records there are of the origin of chemicals used at the chemical defence establishment, Nancekuke. [26199]

Dr. Moonie: There are no surviving records which detail the origin of the chemicals used at the chemical defence establishment, nancekuke.

However, the records of the technical programme undertaken at Nancekuke indicate that many chemical compounds were manufactured on site from chemicals which would have been purchased from commercial suppliers.

Additionally, it is known that some chemicals were transferred to Nancekuke from the Ministry of Defence facilities at Sutton Oak, which closed in 1953, and the War Department factories which were situated at Randle, Valley and Springfields. Also chemicals, such as CS, would have been transferred to Nancekuke from other military establishments for destruction.

RAF Bases

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints he has received from local residents about (a) low flying, (b) aircraft noise and (c) night flying at (i) RAF Brize Norton and (ii) RAF Lyneham in the last five years. [26342]

Dr. Moonie: This information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what penalty would be payable on the cancellation of the Armington Homes 100 year contract for married quarters at RAF Lyneham. [26344]

Dr. Moonie: Current Government policy does not envisage repurchasing the properties sold to Annington Homes Ltd. (AHL) in 1996 and underleased back to the Ministry of Defence. Properties are initially underleased for 200 years and any that are identified as surplus to service requirements are released to AHL in accordance with the sale agreement.

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Afghanistan

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received from his Canadian counterpart regarding the deployment of Canadian troops in Afghanistan; and if Canadian troops will be deployed as a part of the International Security Assistance Force. [26645]

Mr. Hoon: We have been in close political, diplomatic and military contact with Canada throughout our operations in Afghanistan. I spoke to my Canadian counterpart on 21 December about the possibility of Canadian troops participating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). We were keen for a company of Canadian engineers to participate from the beginning and hoped that these might be augmented by an infantry battalion to replace 2 Battalion the Parachute Regiment in due course. In the event, the Canadian Government have decided not to contribute to the ISAF, but will instead support operations around Kandahar. We welcome Canada's contribution. Canada may wish to participate in the ISAF at a later date.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his (a) NATO, (b) EU and (c) US and (d) Canadian counterparts regarding the deployment of armed forces to Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [26642]

Mr. Hoon: I have been in regular contact with my EU and NATO colleagues concerning the deployment of forces to Afghanistan.

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role international peacekeepers will have in securing routes for aid convoys and deliveries within Afghanistan. [26877]

Mr. Ingram: The role of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is to help the Afghan Interim Administration provide security and stability only in and around Kabul; it will therefore not be involved in providing security for aid convoys. The responsibility for establishing and maintaining security across all of Afghanistan lies with the Interim Administration.

Essential to the building of peace and stability and the securing of aid routes is the defeat of the remnants of the al-Qaeda and Taliban. The international coalition against terrorism's operations against these groups, while distinct from the ISAF, will help ensure humanitarian aid is delivered where it is needed in Afghanistan.


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