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Could wagons tilt at new windmills?

Lorries could be blown over by gusts from a proposed windfarm next to the M6 in Lancashire, an expert claimed today.

Plans have been submitted for 18 five-metre vertical wind turbines at the Brockholes Quarry site at Samlesbury, near Preston, as part of bigger plans for a 112-hectare multi-million pound nature reserve.

But today Preston-based chartered electrical engineer and lecturer Dr Roy Horton, who has carried out consultancy work on turbines across the world, said turbulence created by the turbines could flow across the motorway and hit high-sided vehicles.

Initial plans for the project show the 18 turbines would be in three groups by the side of the motorway. Energy generated would be used to power the nature reserve.

Dr Horton, who lives in Barton, near Preston, said it appeared the turbines would be placed to harness wind flowing through the valley and the wind created by traffic flying past on the M6.

But he fears that if the turbines were at the same level as the road, heavy vehicles could be blown over.

He said: “Wind turbines are usually about 30% efficient at extracting energy from the wind, so 70% of the wind is going through and turning into turbulence.

“When you take steady wind and concentrate it, which is what turbulence is, it becomes so unpredictable. I think they will put them in line with the motorway because that is where they will pick up the most wind. They are trying to use the wind created by the valley, the cuttings and the motorway.”

He said the motorway embankment was some 40ft above the level of the floor and said: “When you get high-sided vehicles blown over it is usually on an embankment because the wind whips up the embankment, gains speed and catches the side of the lorry.”

Lancashire Wildlife Trust, which tabled the plans, said wind turbines were only one option for powering the site. No one from the trust was available for comment yesterday.

Lancashire Evening Post

8 May 2008