Windfarms and radar surveillance – which mitigation technology is right for you?


Airports faced with potential windfarm interference, or windfarm developers faced with addressing CAA or regulatory concerns will already know that a whole range of different technical mitigation solutions exist and that they vary in their performance characteristics and costs.

Since many (if not all) of the technical solutions are only just reaching maturity, there is limited evidence of their long-term performance in an operational environment. So there are still potential risks associated with choosing a technical mitigation solution, and by extension there are also risks in successfully obtaining planning permission for the windfarm.

If the development is dependent on external investors, those investors will want reassurance that the risks have been properly understood and addressed. So whether your standpoint is objecting to or promoting a windfarm development, there are steps you will need to take to reduce the risks to you.

Can you answer the following questions?

  • How will the proposed windfarm impact the technical performance of the existing radars? And how will this in turn impact the operations at nearby airports (or your airport) – specifically the provision of surveillance separation and approach services?
  • Do you understand the operational and business needs of the airport (and in particular the Air Traffic Service provider)? And what about the operational and business needs of the windfarm industry? This is necessary to correctly assess whether the requirements used to select the mitigation solution have been correctly and fully specified.
  • Have you fully evaluated the characteristics and technical performance of the proposed mitigation solutions to assess whether they will actually work? Have you carried out line of sight and interference assessments? Have you done feasibility and operational reviews? Have you selected a suitable scoring system to help you evaluate compliance against specifications?
  • Do you know the steps you need to take to present a full safety case? Have you considered CAP760, CAP670 (including acceptable means of compliance to CAP670 SW 01), and the EC Surveillance Performance and Interoperability Implementing Rule (SPI IR)?
  • For developers and airports: have you developed a single safety case that could cover multiple windfarm developments?

If the answer is no …

Choosing a mitigation technology is not a simple process. It is time-consuming, requires specialist knowledge not always readily available and a holistic approach. There are steps you can take to fill the knowledge gaps and minimise risk. Here are a few ideas:

1.  Capture, prioritise and then break down high level user and business requirements into detailed system performance, engineering and safety requirements.

2.  Ensure the viewpoints of all stakeholders are captured and shared.

3.  Ensure your requirements are “SMART”, ie they are Specific, Measureable, Agreed and Achievable, Relevant and Traceable.

4. Get independent verification of third-party activities and assessments.

5. Understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of different solutions with respect to your business objectives.

6.  Assess operational hazards, risk and critical paths associated with contributing factors from human, procedures and equipment through safety workshops.

7.  Introduce current best practice safety methodology, including direct liaison with the UK CAA to prepare for the new technical mitigation safety case.

8.  Ensure you have a contract that defines clear success criteria, balances business risk with financial reward and has appropriate milestones to monitor supplier performance.

9.  Carry out independent due diligence to reduce risks and reassure investors.

All too often we have seen procurement contracts resulting in disputes when these best practice ideas are not followed. So, if you need help answering these questions or implementing these ideas do get in touch. We will be happy to point you in the right direction, or to provide more hands-on support.

Contact the author

Adam Parkinson
Adam Parkinson  
Prinicipal Consultant
Tel: +44 1252 451 640
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