Radar gets planning consent months after launching

A Typhoon jet flying over the Saxa Vord radar base. Photo: MoD

THE NEW radar system at Saxa Vord in Unst has been given full planning permission – months after becoming operational.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) secured retrospective planning permission in late September after relaunching the facility in the spring.

Concerns had been raised during the planning process over the possible radiation effect the £10 million remote radar head facility could have on nearby land and livestock.

However, the MoD confirmed that the radar emits “non-ionising radiation”, which is shown to pose no risk to the public, property or stock.

Work began on the unmanned radar facility in October last year and by the end of February it had been fully tested, with the system in operation since.

The MoD had lodged an application in 2017 for a certificate of lawfulness to allow it to restore the system at Saxa Vord, but it was told by council planners that it would have to go through the full planning process.

The radar base was reopened in a bid to provide information on aircraft movements to the north of the UK.

The MoD says it also improves “RAF and NATO understanding of the airspace north of Britain and further out across the Norwegian Sea, improving the UK’s sovereign capability at a time of heightened Russian military activity”.

Saxa Vord was previously used as a base from the late 1950s through to its closure in 2006.