Action to shut down wind turbines in school playgrounds amid fears over children’s safety should have been taken months ago, an Inverness councillor has claimed.
Donnie Kerr is concerned it has taken Highland Council nearly four months to respond to fears raised by councillors and residents.
He said: “I would have liked to have seen these things suspended when the issue was first raised. I’m not happy they were kept going. No way do I want to see a child hurt over this.”
The local authority decided this week to switch off 16 school turbines across the Highlands, including one at Culloden Academy, after a report by an independent consultant revealed pupils could be at risk.
The council commissioned the report at a cost of £5,775.
Steve Barron, depute chief executive and director of housing and property, insisted the move was a precautionary one, to reassure the public the equipment was safe.
In 2009 a blade fell off a school turbine on the island of Raasay, off Skye, after a contractor refitted a part the wrong way.
Councillors and parents spoke out about their concerns in February when Nairn Academy and Inshes Primary School submitted planning applications to install turbines in their school grounds.
Councillor Kerr, who represents the Central ward, refused to back either proposal because of a lack of exclusion zone or fence around the turbines.
“I’m pleased they are now going to look at it,” he said,
“I really feel this is something that should have been looked into in more depth.
“When you are putting something into a school playground, the first priority has to be the safety of children and other people.”
The Building Research Establishment – an independent consultancy – is examining the school sites to establish if any extra safety measures are needed.
Further reports are expected to be given to the council over the next few weeks.
Mr Barron denied yesterday the council’s own risk assessments of the turbines, some which were installed eight years ago, were inadequate. The risk assessments carried out to date were undertaken diligently involving property staff, headteachers and the council’s health and safety team,” he said,
“However there is, as yet, no guidance on risk assessment and installation of micro wind turbines.
“This is a developing field and through discussions with the Health and Safety Executive, the council has recently developed a new enhanced risk assessment tool which we will use in future installations.
“The council’s turbines have all been working effectively and our servicing and maintenance regimes are more intensive than those recommended by the manufacturers.
“The council can therefore confidently reassure all site users over safety.”
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