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Airfield slams Met Office for ‘ridiculous plans’ for 28m radar near runway

PUBLISHED: 15:37 05 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:22 06 January 2020

Old Buckenham airfield manager, Matt Wilkins, who branded Met Office plans for a 28m radar tower as

Old Buckenham airfield manager, Matt Wilkins, who branded Met Office plans for a 28m radar tower as "completely nuts". Picture: Denise Bradley

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An airfield has accused the Met Office of ignoring its safety concerns about “ridiculous” plans to build a 28.5m high radar tower close to its runway.

Location of the proposed weather radar tower on Abbey Road, close to Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: GoogleLocation of the proposed weather radar tower on Abbey Road, close to Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: Google

Old Buckenham Airfield said it was in the process of drawing up a "tremendously sizeable objection" in response to a planning application submitted to Breckland Council.

The Met Office, which currently operates 16 weather radars in the UK, is proposing to build the tower within an Anglian Water compound off Abbey Road at Old Buckenham.

In its submission it states the location was found to be the most suitable from 15 potential sites, including a shortlist of five that also included Marham, Honington, Sparamhill and Neatishead.

The proposed Met Office weather radar would be on a 28m high tower. Picture: Met OficeThe proposed Met Office weather radar would be on a 28m high tower. Picture: Met Ofice

It adds: "This proposal will help forecasters deal more confidently with easterly and north easterly snow impacting East Anglia, as well as summer convective storms, reducing risk to property and life through flood and weather warnings."

Matt Wilkins, the aerodrome manager at Old Buckenham Airfield, said the application had not addressed aeronautical and safety concerns despite a meeting with the Met Office in October.

He said: "They have had talks with us but have then completely ignored what we said. Any suggestion that the Met Office have listened to us is just nonsense."

Entrance to the Anglian Water compound on Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, where the Met Office weather radar would be sited. Picture: Met OficeEntrance to the Anglian Water compound on Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, where the Met Office weather radar would be sited. Picture: Met Ofice

The Met Office would be in breach of an Air Navigation Order by the Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates the Second World War airfield, he added.

MORE: Airfield describes plans to build weather radar next to its runway as 'completely nuts'

An aviation report submitted with the plans, prepared by consultants Osprey Consulting, says there is "little or no risk to flight safety" from interference with aeronautical communications from the weather radar.

A weather radar in Clee Hill, Shropshire, similar to that proposed for Old Buckenham. Picture: Met OfficeA weather radar in Clee Hill, Shropshire, similar to that proposed for Old Buckenham. Picture: Met Office

Mr Wilkins said: "We have had a look at their aviation report and disseminated it. Any report that cites Wikipedia in its bibliography is not worth the paper it is written on.

"We are quite stunned by how poor this application is. It is just ridiculous. It is totally in the wrong place.

"The airfield has actually offered them a piece of land that would take this thing from being in a bad position and put it somewhere on airfield land that is far better but they have flatly ignored that."

The Met Office, which currently operates 16 weather radars in the UK, says a tower at Old Buckenham would help with forecasting snow and flooding. Picture: Met OfficeThe Met Office, which currently operates 16 weather radars in the UK, says a tower at Old Buckenham would help with forecasting snow and flooding. Picture: Met Office

Richard Bennett, Met Office senior project manager, said: "Further to a public consultation event, attendance at a parish council meeting and a meeting between Old Buckenham Airport and our aviation consultants, the Met Office is confident that we have addressed the majority of concerns raised.

"It is not unusual for radar to be located adjacent to or on airports and our application is supported by numerous assessments and surveys including an aviation report by a highly experienced aviation consultancy."


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