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Turbine safety fears for Clydesdale farmers

Serious safety concerns have been raised over wind turbines which have been erected on farms across Clydesdale.

Proven Energy, who are based in East Kilbride, went into receivership last weekend after sales of a flagship P35-2 turbine were halted amid safety concerns, writes reporter Shirley Bartynek.

It is said a faulty braking mechanism could cause one of the turbine blades to fly off.

Around 500 of the turbines have been erected in Scotland, many of them on farms and small-holdings.

This week the National Farmers Union confirmed a number of turbines have been erected in Clydesdale area. Bob Carruth, of NFU Scotland, said: “This is one of the most popular type of turbines used by farmers. There are 500 of them across the country. The advice given to the farmers is that they have to apply the brakes as and when it is safe to do so. The news that a major wind turbine manufacturer has gone into receivership is a blow to the fledgling renewables industry in Scotland and leaves many of those farmers who have erected or plan to erect Proven turbines uncertain on the way forward.

“Many farmers will be wondering about their warranty, whether it is still valid or not and when repairs will be carried out.”

Clydesdale MSP Aileen Campbell said: “I am aware Proven Energy has gone into receivership and all customers who have purchased the P35-2 machines have been advised to place their turbines on brake as soon as it is safe to do so.

“This development will be a worrying period for constituents who have invested in these turbines. I would advise them to contact the receivers KPMG as soon as possible to get answers to any queries they have on how this will affect their investment and future use of the turbine.

“Proven Energy are a well-known brand in the windfarm sector and I hope the receivers will be able to find a buyer who can fulfil the company’s orders, resolve the faults affecting the P35-2 machines, and ensure minimal job losses occur.”

Blair Nimmo and Tony Friar of KPMG LLP were appointed joint receivers of Proven Energy Limited at the request of the company’s directors.

Proven Energy’s product range comprises three core models, two of which are recognised by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, the system which certificates microgeneration technologies used to produce electricity and heat from renewable sources.

The company have over 3000 products installed worldwide.

They recently suffered a significant setback following the identification of a defect in the P35-2 model, which although management believes is minor and can be repaired, resulted in advising customers to temporarily cease using the product. The company’s two other models have not been affected. As a result of the product issue and inability to obtain necessary additional funding, directors had no option but to cease trading.

Blair Nimmo, head of restructuring for KPMG in Scotland, said: “Proven Energy is a well-known brand in the small wind sector having been established for over 30 years.

“Although Proven have achieved substantial turnover growth in recent years, the company have made significant losses as they focused on product development, making it difficult for the business to cope financially with the cost of product failure.

“With limited manufacturing, 55 staff have been made redundant with immediate effect. We have retained 20 employees to assist us and prepare the business for sale.

“We are hopeful a sale of all or parts of the business and assets can be achieved and would encourage any interested parties to contact us as soon as possible.

“We are working with government agencies to ensure the redundant employees obtain as much assistance as possible.”

The number of windfarms in Clydesdale who have applied for single turbines has been on the rise over the past few months.

A spokesperson for South Lanarkshire Council said: “Although we may have granted planning permission for these turbines, the installation and maintenance of them are the responsibility of the landowner.

“Anyone with any concerns should contact the Health and Safety Executive first of all.”