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Turbines’ distraction risk ‘not being given credence’  

Credit:  By Dave Lord, The Courier, 24 October 2011 ~~

Concerned residents fear Fife Council officials are choosing to turn a blind eye to road safety problems arising if controversial wind turbines on Clatto Hill get the go ahead.

A total of 10 turbines in excess of 100 metres high are being proposed by two developers.

Greg Brown, chairman of the Clatto Landscape Protection Group, fears there could be a devastating impact on road safety if the plans are approved.

“The local C30 road going over Clatto Hill is already tortuous with blind summits and bends carrying large farm vehicles, as well as local and rat-run traffic,” he told The Courier.

“Serious driver distraction problems would occur if the turbines were built.”

Official advice suggests that wind turbines should be visible to drivers from some distance away and should not come into view suddenly.

However, campaigners fear Fife Council could be set to ignore those guidelines.

“We have surveyed the C30 carefully,” Mr Brown continued.

“We believe there are not just one or two, but no fewer than eight distinct locations in which turbines would come in to view suddenly.”

Mr Brown accused council officials of ignoring the protection group’s concerns, despite repeated attempts to raise the issue.

“The council’s planning officials expect staff in their transportation department to advise on any road safety issues arising from proposals for wind turbines,” he said.

“Transportation officials’ comments on planning applications normally appear on the council’s website while planning proposals are being considered.

“Indeed, Fife Council’s own guidance on windfarms says driver distraction issues should be checked out.

“However, the only comments available so far concern the logistics of bringing giant turbine parts along narrow windy roads.

“Nothing appears on the subject of driver distraction for normal traffic if the turbines were built.”

Mr Brown accused council officials of ignoring the “legitimate” concerns of residents.

“Last year we sent a full report of our survey to the council’s planners,” he said.

“A few months ago we learned our report was filed and apparently not sent to transportation for investigation.

“As a result we then sent our survey directly to transportation, who said they would investigate.

“That was over two months ago but we have heard nothing further.

“It seems by their lack of response that they do not want to acknowledge the road safety problems.”

Members of the landscape protection group insist “time is running out” and urged council officials to address their concerns as a matter of priority.

“These planning applications are due before councillors very soon,” Mr Brown said.

“It is time for the transportation officials to speak out.

“In our group, we believe that officials do not want to go on record saying there are no problems in case serious accidents happen in the future. “On the other hand, they seem to be coming under great pressure to avoid saying anything that would prevent wind turbine proposals being approved.”

A report drawn up by the Clatto landscape protection group and sent to council officials states: “Driver distraction is a significant cause of crashes.

“Members of our group traversed the C30 in both directions identifying when the proposed turbines of each of the two developers came into and out of view.

“Of particular note were those instances when “turbines reappeared suddenly and when turbines were in the driver’s view while negotiating blind bends or blind summits.

“With regard to both developers’ proposals we identified five specific hazardous locations while driving from north to south and a further three specific locations when south to north.

“We believe these specific additional hazards are on top of the general distraction caused by turbines due to their sheer size and proximity to drivers.”

The group is now calling for a “full impartial assessment” of the issue.”

Source:  By Dave Lord, The Courier, 24 October 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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