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27 June, 2011 - 12:46 By News Desk

Cambridge technology resolves airport versus wind farms conflict

Craig Webster, commercial director at Cambridge Consultants

Cambridge technology could end conflict between the aviation industry and wind farm developers.


Airports and airlines fear potential interference to air traffic control from wind farm operations. Now Cambridge Consultants has come up with a solution.

The technology design house has been commissioned by Glasgow Prestwick Airport to carry out a design study using its groundbreaking holographic radar mitigation system to counteract the threat of interference by wind farms.

The move is a significant step towards the technology becoming standard in the aviation industry – potentially removing a major barrier to wind farm installations.

The region surrounding Glasgow Prestwick Airport (GPA) is strategically important to the growth of the UK wind industry, with the potential for hundreds of turbines.

However, this cannot be developed without an effective solution to mitigate interference to the airport’s Primary Radar systems that would be caused by the turbines.

Many competing technical solutions have been proposed to deal with this issue but Cambridge Consultants’ Holographic Radar was found to best suit GPA’s operational requirement and offers greater deployment flexibility than current alternative technologies.

Cambridge Consultants has worked extensively with aviation and wind energy stakeholders to create a technical solution that fully meets their requirements.

Holographic Radar is a non-scanning, continuously tracking 3D radar that can reliably discriminate between turbines and aircraft based on easily observable differences in their behaviour. Successful trials of a small scale system for the MoD in 2009 paved the way for the technology to be selected in 2010 by the UK Government’s Aviation Management Board, and agreement from the wind industry’s funding body, the Aviation Investment Fund Company Ltd, to offer financial support.

The commission by GPA is a significant first step towards the deployment of Holographic Radar as a standard aviation industry wind turbine mitigation technology.

Anne Mackenzie, group manager at Infratil Airports Europe, owners of GPA said: “We are supporting holographic radar as it is a no-degradation solution that can operate at low level without loss of cover.

“Not only is it spectrum friendly, but its 3D plots also make seamless integration into existing radar displays easier. As a modular system, it should make the rollout of mitigation solutions for various wind farms more straightforward.

“The result of this work will be an essential building block for a robust mitigation strategy for GPA, in an environment where safety is paramount.”

Craig Webster, commercial director at Cambridge Consultants added: “The most exciting thing about this programme is the level of collaboration. Prestwick have gone to considerable lengths to bring all parties together, including competing wind farm developers, to work up a solution that meets the needs of air traffic controllers and allows wind farms to be built in their region.

“It seems so much effort is being expended in conflict between the wind energy and aviation industries, when this commission clearly shows that there are practical and collaborative ways to find realistic solutions.”

• Photograph shows: Craig Webster, commercial director at Cambridge Consultants

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