A Review by Stuart Young Consulting (Stuart Young is Chair of the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum)
- An independent expert review of the safety of putting wind turbines on school premises is essential.
- Current control measures require head teachers to leave the classroom and venture forth to take windspeed readings and shut down turbines in Hurricane Force wind speeds when “debris and unsecured objects are hurled about”.
- Highland Council recommend exclusion zones for safety reasons – e.g. fall, topple, ejection – but none seem to have been provided.
- Turbines are to be allowed to operate in winds up to 107mph – “tropical cyclone levels”.
- The risk posed to head teachers through implementing Highland Council safety measures would be even greater than the risk posed to pupils by the turbines themselves.
- Highland Council embarked on a strategy of placing turbines in school playgrounds without a policy and without a risk assessment.
- On the Risk Assessment Matrix a scale of 1 to 3 for likelihood with 1 being “Very unlikely” is a very blunt instrument when the possible consequence of an event is the death of a child.
- Highland Council believes that halving the maintenance intervals leaves a zero residual risk of catastrophic mechanical failure. Logic and experience do not support this belief.
- Available evidence of small turbine failures points to a precautionary approach which Highland Council ignores.
- There is already evidence in Scotland that catastrophic turbine failures occur with consequent violent debris ejection. It cannot be ignored.
- “The fact that almost half a million pounds had been spent before a policy was developed or risk assessment undertaken may suggest a reason for the continuing practice of placing wind turbines in school playgrounds”.
- The report finds that “if Highland Council had formulated a policy for turbines in school playgrounds and subjected it to rigorous risk assessment, informed by observation and experience, these turbines would almost certainly have not been installed”.