March 21, 2012

Plea to shut down school turbines in Caithness rejected

John O'Groat Journal and Caithness Courier, 21 March 2012

A call for wind turbines at three Caithness primary schools to be switched off pending a full risk assessment has been turned down by the Highland Council.

Landward Caithness representative Robert Coghill made the plea as he has concerns about the turbines being situated so close to the pupils’ play areas.

However, he was informed by Steve Barron, the council’s director of housing and property, that the turbines at Castletown, Bower and Crossroads schools will not be shut down although a risk assessment will be carried out.

Mr Coghill has already raised safety issues regarding the Bower turbine while Castletown and District Community Council has highlighted its concerns about the one at the village primary school. He said it was thought at the time the turbines were erected that a full risk assessment had been carried out but it was later discovered that was not the case. He wanted the turbines to be switched off pending a full risk assessment and made his views known to the Highland Council.

“I asked the local authority to consider shutting down the turbines which are still in operation in primary schools in my area until a full risk assessment has been carried out,” said Mr Coghill. “I consider this is a matter of urgency as it is of great concern to many of the parents in the affected schools.”

Brenda Herrick, who is a member of Castletown and District Community Council, is also keen to see the turbines shut down until a risk assessment is carried out.

“I back Councillor Coghill completely. A risk assessment has to be carried out on all new applications but that is not good enough. What about the existing ones?

“The Highland Council does not seem to have any idea that turbines are dangerous. I don’t think they should be sited in children’s play grounds,” she said.

She argued there should be a minimum 36-metre exclusion zone around the turbines but, ideally, would like to see them removed from school play areas. She said there have been problems with turbines in schools in other areas and claimed they are “not very efficient” and “do not produce that much electricity”.

Responding to Mr Coghill’s call, the council’s housing director said a risk assessment will be carried out on the turbines but they will not be shut down.

“There is no evidence to suggest there are problems with the turbines but we will carry out a risk assessment.

“We will not be shutting them down to do that although they may have to be switched off for a period of time to undertake the work,” said Mr Barron.

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