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United Kingdom

TELEVISION FLICKER COULD BE MAJOR DEVELOPMENT BLOCK

Electromagnetic interference could be as big an issue as noise for wind farm developers, believes Marcus Trinick of UK solicitors Bond Pearce. Together with Andrew Garrad of British consultants Garrad Hassan, he is setting up a working party to look into the issue and produce a code of practice for both developers and telecommunications operators.

The initiative springs from a one day seminar in June on electromagnetic communications systems and wind energy development. It was the first opportunity for the major radio and television transmission operators and wind developers in Britain to come together. Because of the relatively low profile of the subject, the organisers had expected only around 40 people to attend the event at Solihull in the west Midlands. In the event 73 turned up representing developers, local authorities and transmission operators.

At the seminar Bond Pearce and Garrad Hassan -- which co-sponsored the event with the Department of Trade and Industry's Energy Technology Support Unit -- spoke of the need for a group to look into the possibility of electromagnetic interference when wind farm sites are being investigated. "We invited all those present to join a working group bringing wind farm developers and transmission operators together to draw up a code of practice," explains Trinick. "Since then we have had much interest in the working party," he adds.

The group will aim to produce guidance on what developers should look out for and who they should contact. It will give an outline of the technical problems they may face, advise on separation distances and provide a code of good conduct. The DTI has already indicated that it would consider funding the working party.

Trinick believes the extent of the problem has until now been largely underestimated because very few understand it. "I see electromagnetic interference level pegging with noise as an issue for developers. We decided that we have to do something now before it becomes an even bigger issue." Some developers who have been looking at sites in south Wales are fully able to appreciate the size of the problem. In an area where large populations are concentrated in deep valleys, the hilltops are crowded with lines of communication and in some cases, electronic communications systems have proved to be as much of a constraint on siting of turbines as visual impact.

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