A 75-metre mast that was put up to measure wind power in a Notts village has fallen over.
Energy developers Partnerships for Renewables (PfR) installed the mast in Gunthorpe earlier this year.
If the tests were successful, the firm planned to ask Newark and Sherwood council for permission to install a permanent 122-metre-high wind turbine to provide power to 700 homes.
But yesterday, the test mast lay in pieces on the ground after falling over on Sunday night at about 10.30pm.
It is thought vandals may have cut wires holding it up.
A 31-year-old fisherman, who did not want to be named, was just 100 yards away from the metal structure as it fell.
“I was sat fishing by the river with three others and suddenly it sounded like there was a mortar attack, with loads of snapping, crashing and banging,” he said. “We didn’t know what it was and then my friend turned around and saw the thing fall out of the ground.
“It’s a public right of way – it’s just lucky it didn’t come down when people were walking near it.”
The fisherman said there was no wind at the time.
The mast had met with opposition from villagers, who felt that a turbine would blight the countryside.
Walkers using the path yesterday were surprised by the damage. Julie Savage, 51, of Radcliffe-on-Trent, walks her dog near the mast about once a week.
“I hadn’t got anything against the turbine because I don’t think it would really bother anyone out here,” she said. “It’s a bit worrying that this has come down, though, especially with the children that come here. It looks completely different on the ground to what it did in the air.
“If the actual turbine is going to be like that, I’m not so sure about it being a good thing.”
A spokesman for PfR said staff had been out to examine the damage, which it believed was caused by vandals cutting the guy wires.
He added: “The matter has been referred to the police and we are on our way to the site to check its condition and ensure that there is no risk to the public from the damaged mast and accompanying fencing.
“The erection of the mast was undertaken according to a strict health and safety methodology. The mast will need to be re-erected in the coming weeks so that sufficient wind data can be gathered to assess the potential of the site for a wind turbine development.
He added: “Safety is our paramount concern and, together with our partners, British Waterways, we will be considering what additional security and safety measures may be necessary to protect the mast, and therefore local people using the adjacent public rights of way, in future.”
Police said they had been told of the incident and were awaiting more information before investigating.