The recent collapse of a 200ft high wind turbine in Argyll highlights some of the dangers posed by wind turbines.
Once again the wind industry “spin” machine appears to have been in action, calling the event a “one-off” and “extremely unusual”. Caithness Windfarm Information Forum has been covering wind-turbine accidents for some years. Our data has been recognised and has received praise from DTI and HSE.
We would beg to differ with claims that this event was in any way unusual or unique. As far as we are aware, there have been five other structural failure events resulting in tower collapse this year alone. These include one in Japan on January 8, one in Germany on January 11, one in Massachusetts on April 16, one in Oregon on August 28 (killing one man and injuring another) and one in New Zealand on November 11. Other structural failures this year include the collapse of three wind-speed test masts.
Our records show that of the 397 wind-turbine accidents found to date, the most common causes are (1) blade failure (29 per cent); (2) fire (16 per cent); (3) structural failure (13 per cent); and (4) environmental damage (seven per cent). Transport accidents and thrown ice come a close fifth. Our figures show that there have been 49 wind-farm-linked fatalities worldwide, with sadly the first UK fatalities (both industry and public) this year. There have been 53 published accidents during 2007 to date. As more turbines are built, more accidents occur.
Given the above, it would seem madness for the Scottish Government or local authority planners to approve any schemes within 1-2km of occupied housing. Scottish Planning Policy 6 seems in agreement with this, and states that “Scottish Ministers would support this (2 km) as a separation distance between turbines and the edge of cities, towns and villages”. However, in rural communities, large wind farms are being considered within far shorter distances from homes. For instance, the proposed Baillie wind farm in Caithness is located approximately 500m from the nearest homes, and there are approximately 100 homes located within 2km of the turbines.
I would request readers to check the detailed accident data under “accidents” at www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk, and through our online objections use your voices to stop Baillie wind farm and others and avoid similar Caithness accidents.
David Craig, Chairman, Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, Sandford House, Achvarasdal, Reay.
16 November 2007