Sector Deal - Technical Updates

Scottish Onshore Wind Sector Deal Update: Technical

The operation of wind turbines can impact the air traffic control radar and the associated surveillance infrastructure used in both civil and military domains. In particular, radar mitigation systems that are designed to coexist in areas where wind turbines are present are now available, and a collaborative approach is needed between the onshore wind sector, civil, and military aviation stakeholders to transition to these new systems. The legislative requirement for aviation lighting on onshore wind turbines at or above 150 metres to tip can cause issues in the protection of dark skies.

The Eskdalemuir Seismic Array (EKA) is a Ministry of Defence managed facility that forms part of the UK’s obligations under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Operation of the EKA is impacted by seismic vibrations from wind turbines and it is essential that the cumulative level of vibration from wind turbines within 50 km from the centre of the EKA does not exceed the tolerance (noise budget) of the Array. The consultation zone of the EKA, which extends into Northern England, represents around 10% of Scotland’s total land area and has the potential to support an additional 5GW to 7GW of wind energy. However, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) safeguarding requirements applicable to the EKA have resulted in limited development across the consultation zone since January 2018.   

There are 8 commitments in the Scottish Onshore Wind Sector Deal that will help unlock onshore wind deployment that is currently restricted by aviation and EKA constraints.


Unlocking Eskdalemuir

Both the Scottish Government and the onshore wind sector are working collaboratively with the MOD to finalise a new approach to seismic noise budget management.

Who is Involved

The Eskdalemuir Working Group (EWG) is the lead for this commitment. The EWG is chaired by the Scottish Government and comprises representatives from the Ministry of Defence, the wind industry, technical experts Xi Engineering, and a planning law expert. Please contact Adam Mackie, Onshore Renewable Electricity Policy, Scottish Government with any queries.

Work Update

  • The EWG is working towards issuing guidance related to the Eskdalemuir noise budget and seismic impact limit. The guidance is expected to be released in early Q2 for public consultation. More information can be found here.


Working with Aviation

Key stakeholders have collaborated to create a comprehensive national survey, establishing the extent of aviation-related issues for onshore wind development, and a market survey on existing and emerging technologies, which will identify potential solutions are currently being planned. From this survey, the stakeholders will publish details of how to reach a fair and equitable deployment of funding and mitigation solutions.

Stakeholders are also collaborating with the aviation sector to identify mitigations and regulators to optimise instrument flight procedures to accommodate maximum wind farm capacity while maintaining safe airport operations.

Scottish Government commits to finalising and promoting the Aviation Lighting Assessment Guidance and ensuring its implementation. It will also engage with the UK Government to seek to address reserved matters regarding aviation regulations and defence requirements.

Who is Involved

Along with the Strategic Leadership Group Theme Lead (Sam Johnson, Senior Aviation Manager, RES Group), Onward 2030 is the group identified as the optimal route to deliver the Sector Deal commitments related to aviation. The group comprises representatives from the Scottish Government, the UK Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), Department for Transport, national regulatory bodies of the wind industry and key aviation (civil and military) stakeholders.

Please contact Heidi Douglas-Osborn, Senior Policy Analyst (Aviation and Onshore), RenewableUK with any queries regarding the work of Onward 2030.

Work Update

  • The comprehensive national survey will be released at the end of June 2024.
  • Onward 2030 is developing working groups to address and deliver these commitments.