• The Government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the UK and, in turn, this means there is now a shift towards economically viable renewable energy sources rather than carbon fuels. It is anticipated that wind energy will provide a significant contribution to renewable energy targets. In order to harness this energy supply, both on-and offshore wind turbine developments are being constructed, which range from single structures to developments encompassing over one hundred wind turbines and which range in size from less than 30 metres to over 150 metres tall. The physical characteristics of wind turbines coupled with the size and siting of the developments can result in effects which impact on aviation

    Under the Civil Aviation Act, the CAA is responsible for providing advice about aviation safety. The Authority’s Safety and Airspace Regulation Group has the lead responsibility within the CAA for all wind turbine related issues.

    CAA policy

    Our policy on wind turbine developments is summarized below:

    • wind turbine developments and aviation need to co-exist in order for the UK to achieve its binding European targets and enhance energy security, whilst meeting national and international transport policies. However, safety of the air is paramount and will not be compromised. As the independent aviation regulator, the CAA is well placed to provide support to both the aviation industry and the wind energy industry.

    • due to the complex nature of aviation operations, and the impact of local environmental constraints, all instances of potential negative impact of proposed wind turbine developments on aviation operations must be considered on a case by- case basis.

    • to provide the best and most timely advice to aviation and wider wind development stakeholders through consultation, the publication of CAP 764 (CAA Policy and Guidelines on wind Turbines) and its associated web pages on the CAA web site.

    Following the publication of the CAP 764 (Issue 6) in January 2016, the CAA has withdrawn the following policy statements:

    • Failure of Aviation Warning Lights on Offshore Wind Turbines (27 April 2012) 
    • Lighting of Wind Turbine Generators in United Kingdom Territorial Waters (22 November 2012)  

    The policy and guidance that was contained within these statements is captured in the updated CAP 764 (Issue 6).  

    The following stand-alone policy statement remains available as its remit extends beyond wind turbines:  

    CAA representation

    The CAA represents civil aviation interests on the Department of the Environment and Climate Change (DECC) chaired Aviation Management Board

    The CAA is also a signatory to the  Aviation Memorandum of Understanding which commits the CAA to work together with DECC, the Department for Transport, Ministry of Defence, NATS and the renewables industry (represented by RenewableUK) to identify mitigation solutions and drive forward progress on projects. 

    Progress is contained within the Aviation Plan, issued by DECC.

    The Ministry of Defence advises on all matters affecting military aviation.

  • We recommend that pre-planning consultation establishes both civil and military aviation related issues as early as possible.

    We do not formally participate in the pre planning process, however, when a planning application is submitted to a Local Planning Authority the CAA will respond to any consultation sent by the council in question.

    As with any development, related decision making responsibility rests with the appropriate planning authorities who will take into account the potential impact upon local aviation activities. 

    The CAA has no role in assessing the purely environmental implications of any project and has no power of veto over any proposed wind turbine development.

     

    The CAA has no responsibilities for safeguarding sites other than its own property: aerodrome operators are responsible for safeguarding their own sites.  Councils are reminded of their obligations to consult in accordance with ODPM/DfT Circular 1/2003 or Scottish Government Circular 2/2003, and in particular to consult with NATS and the Ministry of Defence as well as any officially safeguarded aerodromes listed in the above documents.

    It is published government advice that the operators of licensed aerodromes which are not officially safeguarded, and operators of unlicensed aerodromes and sites for other aviation activities (for example gliding or parachuting) should take steps to protect their locations from the effects of possible adverse development by establishing an agreed consultation procedure between themselves and the local planning authority or authorities. 

    Further information is available in:

    • CAP 168 Licensing of Airfields
    • CAP 793 Safe Operating Practices at Unlicensed Airfields.

    One method, recommended by the Civil Aviation Authority, is to lodge a non-official safeguarding map with the local planning authority or authorities. Government advice requests Local Planning Authorities respond sympathetically to requests for this non-official safeguarding.

    The CAA encourages councils / planning authorities and developers to undertake relevant consultation with known local aerodromes regardless of status or the existence of any aerodrome/council safeguarding agreement.  This should include local emergency service Air Support Units (e.g. Police Helicopter or Air Ambulance) and, where appropriate, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in terms of Search and Rescue implications.

    In terms of charting, there is an international civil aviation requirement for all structures of 300 feet (91.4 metres) or more to be charted on aeronautical charts.  Please note the maximum height of a wind turbine is measured to the blade tips not the hub or nacelle.

    Further guidance is provided below:

    Structures with a maximum height of 300 ft. (91.4m) above ground level or higher

    Such structures should be reported to the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC) (0208 818 2702, mail to dvof@mod.uk) which maintains the UK's database of tall structures (the Digital Vertical Obstruction File) at least 10 weeks prior to the start of construction.  

    The DGC will require the:

    • accurate location of the turbines / meteorological masts,
    • accurate maximum heights,
    • the lighting status of the turbines / meteorological masts and the estimated start / end dates for construction,
    • the estimate of when the turbines are scheduled to be removed.  

    In addition, the developer should also provide the maximum height of any construction equipment required to build the turbines.  In order to ensure that aviation stakeholders are aware of the turbines / meteorological masts while aviation charts are in the process of being updated, developments should be notified through the means of a  Notice to Airmen (NOTAM).

    To arrange an associated NOTAM, a developer should contact CAA Airspace Regulation (AROps@caa.co.uk / 0207 453 6599); providing the same information as required by the DGC at least 14 days prior to the start of construction.

    Structures with a maximum height below 300 ft. (91.4m) above ground level  

    On behalf of other non-regulatory aviation stakeholders, and in the interest of Aviation Safety, the CAA also requests that any feature/structure 70 ft. (21.3m) in height, or greater, above ground level is also reported to the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC) to allow for the appropriate notification to the relevant aviation communities.  It should be noted that NOTAMs would not routinely be required for structures under 300 ft. (91.4m) unless specifically requested by an aviation stakeholder.

    Any structure of 150 metres or more must be lit in accordance with the Air Navigation Order and should be appropriately marked. However, if an aviation stakeholder (including the MOD) makes a request for lighting/marking of structures, including wind turbines and anemometer masts, of lesser height it is highly likely that the CAA would support such a request, particularly if the request falls under Section 47 of the Aviation Act. 

    Additional information is contained within CAP 764.

    The CAA, through the  Airspace and Safety Initiative Windfarm Working Group, has published the following Guidance for Planning Authorities: