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United Kingdom

Defence ministry withdraws objections after RAF pilots take virtual flight

Air force pilots have moved a wind farm application in Scotland a step forward after taking a virtual flight through the proposed development on a computer simulator. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had objected to ScottishPower's plans for a 282 MW wind farm at Harestanes in the Forest of Ae, Dumfriesshire, south-west Scotland, concerned for the safety of pilots in low flying training exercises. But the MoD withdrew its objection after RAF jet and helicopter pilots gave the wind farm the thumbs up subject to 23 wind turbines being moved. The 3D visualisation software was developed by Scottish company Lovejoy in collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark. The original aim was for a landscape visualisation tool, explains ScottishPower's Alan Mortimer. "But it was extended to allow the three dimensional view of someone travelling through the landscape," he says. "So you get a pilot's eye view as you approach the wind farm -- and it soon becomes apparent which turbines are in the way." The pilots called for 23 of the 94 turbines to be moved closer to the town of Moffat. But Mortimer says that ScottishPower is still looking to find the best location for the machines. Now that the obstacle of the MoD's objection has been removed, ScottishPower expects to receive a site permit by the end of the year. Meantime the company hopes the 3D visualisation software can help it resolve MoD objections to its 92 MW Ewe Hill project in Dumfries and Galloway.

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