Draft PPS18: Renewable Energy
Annex 1 Wind Energy Planning Issues: Electromagnetic Production and Interference
A90. Wind turbines contain electrical machines producing power. They will therefore also produce electromagnetic radiation. This is at a very low level, and presents no greater risk to human health than most domestic appliances.
A91. Provided careful attention is paid to siting, wind turbines should not cause any significant adverse effects on communication systems which use electromagnetic waves as the transmission medium (e.g. television, radio, telecommunication links, and police and emergency service links). Generally, turbine siting can mitigate any potential impacts, as the separation distance required to avoid problems is generally a matter of a few hundred metres. In some cases, it may be possible to effectively re-route the signal around the development, at the developer’s expense, to overcome the problem.
A92. Scattering of signal mainly affects domestic TV and radio reception, and the general public may be concerned that a wind farm will interfere with these services. Experience has shown that when this occurs it is of a predictable nature and can generally be alleviated by the installation or modification of a local repeater station or cable connection.
A93. Specialist organisations responsible for the operation of the electromagnetic links typically require a 100m clearance either side of a line of sight link from the swept area of turbine blades although some operators are willing to accept Fresnel zones8 of avoidance. Individual consultations would be necessary to identify each organisation’s safeguarding distance. Effects on such links can usually be resolved through careful siting of individual turbines
A94. Since a large number of bodies use communication systems, and some of the users are commercially sensitive or of strategic importance, it is often difficult to obtain a definitive picture of all the transmission routes across a potential site. The Office of Communications (OFCOM) holds a central register of all civil radio communications operators in the UK and acts as a central point of contact for identifying specific consultees relevant to a site. OFCOM will identify any radio installations relevant to a wind farm site. Although OFCOM passes any enquiry on to other interested parties, who should respond to an application, this process is only partial and an applicant seeking planning permission would be well advised to make direct contact with any authorities/bodies which are likely to be interested – a list of potentially interested parties is given at the end of this Section.
A95. In addition, it may be necessary to consult utility providers and also emergency services such as the police, ambulance service and the coastguard.
A96. For proposals within 20km of the Republic of Ireland it is recommended that developers consult with licensed operators there. A list of these operators is available on the ComReg website at www.comreg.ie. In such cases it is also advisable to contact Irish mobile phone operators.
8 The area around the visual line-of-sight that radio waves spread out into after they leave the antenna.