Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Wind farm operators accuse airport owned by taxpayers of again demanding cash for consent

Ryanair Boeing 737-700 fast track training pilots at Prestwick Airport Scotland (Jamie Williamson)
A plane at Prestwick Airport, which was bought by the government in 2013 for £1 and is at the centre of the wind turbine row.

Prestwick Airport has again been accused of unlawfully demanding cash before consenting to planned wind farms.

Lawyers for a wind farm operator wanting to build 44 turbines 20 miles from the airport says the airport’s demands for unspecified compensation for unspecified reasons are unlawful and in breach of Scottish Government guidelines.

In August, we reported how Prestwick, which has already received £8m from wind farm operators claiming the turbines have forced them to get a new radar system, had asked for compensation from ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) in exchange for withdrawing objections to a proposed 18-turbine farm 30 miles south of the airport.

Now executives have demanded annual compensation payments from Community Windpower, which wants to build up to 44 turbines near Sanquhar in Dumfries and Galloway. However, the firm’s lawyers have told a planning inquiry the airport’s “proposed condition is unlawful and contrary to Scottish Government guidance.”

Prestwick executives claim some of the turbines will be visible to its radar and it will now require further investment.

However, the airport has already received £8m from wind farm developers in the last four years and recently spent £5m on a new turbine-tolerant radar system called a Terma Scanter 4002.

Clearly inappropriate: Critics warn ministers have conflict of interest over Prestwick airport’s wind farm objection

The Sanquhar II wind farm will provide power for 335,000 homes each year and displace 546,000 tonnes of CO2 annually if it gets the go ahead. The ongoing planning inquiry was handed a costs and risks assessment by Prestwick but the document does not include figures.

Ministers bought the airport for £1 in 2013 to save it from administration and protect jobs. Taxpayers have handed over loans totalling £43m to prop up the business.

Critics say the publicly-owned wind farm cash demands undercut ministers’ commitment to renewable energy while the millions being demanded will, ultimately, be paid by electricity consumers.

Solicitors for the airport, which has struggled to find a buyer, said sums demanded from Community Windpower would not be disclosed unless the wind farm developer signs a confidentiality agreement.

Community Windpower has dismissed the demand to sign a non disclosure agreement, saying it would be inappropriate.

In a statement, the developer said: “GPA (Glasgow Prestwick Airport) has not identified or evidenced any future risks or costs… while the applicant entirely accepts the principle that safety in the air is of paramount importance, that principle does not allow GPA to use unspecified and unsubstantiated claims in relation to its operations as a commercial lever to secure a significant financial gain.”

The Terma Scanter 4002 was purchased by the airport because it is designed to mitigate interference from turbines within 40 miles of the transport hub.

Edinburgh and Glasgow airports are among those around the world that use the system, which detects more than 90% of turbines.

Terma, which manufactures the system, said some reconfiguration of internal maps is required when new turbines are built and test flights can be carried out.

Solicitors for Community Windpower wrote to Prestwick’s lawyers to make an offer of £60,000 to cover these “demonstrable and reasonably incurred” costs.

However, Zoe Kilpatrick, the airport’s commercial director, said in a statement to the planning inquiry: “The airport not only faces known costs and risks but given the long-term nature of this project, is also exposed to costs and risks that are currently unknown.”

Terma said it could not disclose information because it is bound by non-disclosure agreements.

State-owned Prestwick airport accused of unlawfully demanding compensation payments from windfarm developers

Scottish Conservative Shadow Energy and Transport Secretary Liam Kerr said the situation was concerning and Prestwick must justify its compensation demands.

He said: “These are more potentially damaging allegations against taxpayer-owned Prestwick Airport,” he said. “Millions have been thrown at Prestwick Airport but we’re still none the wiser as to any potential new owner. Yet still the Scottish Government seems happy to allow a potentially false financial picture to be painted.”

Ministerial responsibility for determining wind farm applications lies with Michael Matheson MSP, whose full title is Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport. He oversees government agency Transport Scotland and also has some responsibility for the airport.

The Scottish Government says the airport is managed at arm’s length and ministers do not interfere in commercial decisions.

The Scottish Government said: “An independent reporter is currently conducting a public inquiry into this proposed development. They will report with recommendations to Scottish ministers who will make the final decision on the application. It would therefore not be appropriate to comment on the proposal at this stage.”

Prestwick Airport declined to comment.