The enterprise behind the controversial Camp Hill wind turbine scheme has robustly defended the project amid fire fears.
The strong rebuttal by Partnerships for Renewables (PfR) followed a statement issued by The Wight Against Rural Turbines (ThWART) on Tuesday, in which the campaign group said the scheme could pose a fire threat to the ancient woodland of Parkhurst Forest.
It said the two 125-metre tall turbines proposed for Ministry of Justice land would be located little more than 100m from the nearest trees, sparking fears that if one of the turbines suffered an electrical fault or a lightning strike, burning debris could be blown into the forest.
The group’s news release included a photograph of a wind turbine that caught fire in windy weather at Ardrossan in Scotland and data compiled by the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, a group concerned about the proliferation of wind farms in Scotland. The data showed there had been at least 165 recorded incidents involving wind turbines catching fire around the world in the last ten years.
PfR hit back, stating modern wind turbines were designed with a raft of safety systems, including safeguards against direct lightning strikes.
A spokesman said: “The risk of forest fires from causes such as lightning, discarded cigarette butts or arson, although small, is still vastly greater than any potential risk from wind turbines.
“The single instance of a turbine fire last year in Scotland should be put in the context of the 3,100-plus onshore wind turbines currently operating in the UK, only one of which suffered a mechanical failure in winds of almost unprecedented ferocity.
“The theoretical risk of a similar thing happening on the Isle of Wight is minuscule.”
ThWART said the scheme threatened the community with the “unacceptable effects of noise and shadow flicker as well as the overbearing scale of the industrial machines”.
According to PfR, the project has the potential of generating up to 13 gigawatt hours of green electricity every year, powering the equivalent of 2,944 homes on an annual basis.
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