Wind turbines beside Highland schools – including Holm primary and Culloden Academy – are being switched off today amid safety fears about the possible threat to children.
The switch off comes after a turbine collapsed forcing the closure of one Highland School and concerns were voiced about the lack of fencing around the turbines to protect the kids in event of a malfunction.
Sixteen machines in schools across the region including Inverness, Ross-shire, Caithness and Sutherland will now stop rotating.
Applications for two new turbines to be built at schools in the city and Nairn in February were put on ice in February because councillors, including the SNP’s Inverness Central member Donnie Kerr, voiced concerns about their safety.
Councillor Kerr refused to back their construction because there was no reference to a fence or exclusion zone in either scheme and called for an urgent review.
The council’s south planning applications committee agreed to seek risk assessment on both proposed turbines at Inshes Primary School and Nairn Academy.
The initial feedback from a review by the Building Research Establishment, has now prompted the council’s move to shut off the turbines which are sited in, or near to Highland schools.
The “precautionary measure” have been taken ahead of the findings from the full report which is expected in the next few weeks and will be published on the authority’s website.
Despite the turbine shutdown, Steve Barron, the council’s depute chief executive has said it is still committed to renewable energy schemes.
“The council takes the issue of safety within schools very seriously and where additional measures are deemed necessary these will be planned and undertaken in consultation with head teachers and the council’s health and safety team,” he said.
Schools across the Highlands had embarked on schemes to construct “micro” turbines, backed by the local authority, because it saves cash and boost energy credentials.
However, Councillor Kerr was uneasy about the turbines being so close to playgrounds and highlighted the closure of Raasay Primary School near Skye the years ago after a turbine collapsed.
The school turbines affected are: Holm Primary and Culloden Academy in Inverness; Stoer and Scoraig Primaries, both Wester Ross; Bower, Pultneytown, South and North primaries, Wick; Dornoch Academy; Crossroads and Castletown, Thurso; Inver Primary, Tain; Acharacle Primary, Lochaber; Rosehall Primary, Lairg and the Isle of Eigg’s primary school.