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Airfield describes plans to build 22m weather radar next to its runway as 'completely nuts'

PUBLISHED: 16:28 04 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:28 04 July 2019

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

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

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The manager at a Norfolk airfield has described proposals to build a 22m weather radar yards from its runway as "completely nuts".

Old Buckenham Airfield manager, Matt Wilkins, said the proposed weather radar was a breach of regulation. Picture: Denise BradleyOld Buckenham Airfield manager, Matt Wilkins, said the proposed weather radar was a breach of regulation. Picture: Denise Bradley

Last month the Met Office unveiled proposals to build the tower at the Anglian Water site on Abbey Road, Old Buckenham.

The structure would stand 22 metres tall with a five-metre diameter and feature a cabin at its base to house transmitter and communications equipment.

It said the radar would improve forecasting in the county by gathering vital data about flooding, which would lead to more accurate flood warnings.

But Old Buckenham Airfield, which is less than 20ft away from the proposed site, said the radar would penetrate the protected area around its main runway.

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

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Matt Wilkins, the aerodrome manager at Old Buckenham Airfield, said 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: "Putting the radar in this location would be completely nuts, it's a very strange place to choose. We are not a small airfield and all you have to do is look at an aerodrome map to see that. It is a flat out breach of the Air Navigation Order and we will object on the basis of that statute."

Mr Wilkins said as it was currently proposed, the radar would infringe on the flight path of planes using its runway and that even surrounding trees and vegetation had to be managed in accordance to the gradient.

An aerial view of the fields around Old Buckenham Airfield, opposite the proposed site for a new weather radar.Picture: James BassAn aerial view of the fields around Old Buckenham Airfield, opposite the proposed site for a new weather radar.Picture: James Bass

The Met Office said the plans were still in the early stages and that the consultation period was designed to identify potential issues in the local community.

It added that it had received a "minimal number" of objections at a public meeting held at Old Buckenham Village Hall on June 28, at which villagers were invited to examine plans and ask the project team questions.

A spokesman added: "A 2 year long, thorough investigation of possible sites across the region was carried out which considered the benefits, likely costs, impact on the local environment and community and associated risks for each location. This site was the only one of the potential sites that would provide 1km resolution coverage over the whole of Norfolk, right up to the coast line. It also offered the most cost-effective option for the UK taxpayer."

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