The death of a teenage worker on the site of a windfarm in Stirlingshire was “tragic and avoidable”, according to a pressure group which is campaigning against the construction of windfarms in Scotland.
Basilio Brazao (19), from Brazil, died instantly when he fell down the shaft of a turbine at the Earlsburn windfarm near Fintry, Stirlingshire.
Mr Brazao had been working inside the turbine at the time of the incident.
While there was no link between the failings and Mr Brazao’s death, Nordex UK was fined £26,000 at Stirling Sheriff Court last week after previously admitting health and safety breaches.
Susan Crosthwaite, chairwoman of Communities Against Turbines Scotland (CATS), told The Courier yesterday: “This tragic and avoidable death shows the wind industry’s priorities – making as much money as it can before the subsidies vanish.
“Nordex was told before the accident that its site safety standards were inadequate, but it chose to do nothing. Now it gets a slap-on-the-wrist fine – just £26,000 for a man’s life.
“Building workers, householders and local communities, as well as wildlife and landscape, all risk falling victim to the Scottish wind rush.
“They are up against fly-by-night developers and official ‘watchdogs’ that have bitten off more than they can chew.
“It’s a certain recipe for more accidents, both to workers and those who visit or live near turbines.
“When is the Government going to start looking after the public interest, rather than the developers?”
The court heard last week that Mr Brazao was working with his father at the site when the incident occurred.
Gavin Callaghan, prosecuting, said: “The deceased and three other employees were inside the turbine, and later in the day began to descend the ladder. Mr Brazao was a short distance down the ladder when, for unknown reasons, he fell.
“Fellow employees heard a scream and saw him falling. He was seen lying down at the bottom of the turbine, with his left ankle at an unnatural angle.
“It is accepted by the Crown that there is no link between the death of Mr Brazao and the offences Nordex UK have pleaded guilty to.
“Employees rushed to help him, but he died at the scene from his injuries.”
The court heard that the manufacturer Nordex at that time used a fall arrest system – which is supposed to offer a form of fall protection to employees.
However, the health and safety executive had warned them to upgrade to a lift system in the months before Mr Brazao’s death, but they had not done so.
Mr Callaghan said there was a “total failing from the accused to meet the regulations”. However, he said there was no link between the failings and Mr Brazao’s death.
Nordex UK admitted that between November 2006 and May 2007, they failed to ensure the health and safety of employees at the site.
The Manchester-based firm further admitted failing to provide a safe way of getting up and down from the wind turbines.
Ray Gribben, defending, said Nordex UK had been “practically insolvent” in the past two financial years.
Fining the firm £26,000, Sheriff Fiona Tait said: “It is accepted by the Crown that there is no link between the death of Mr Brazao and the offences Nordex UK have pleaded guilty to.”
The Earlsburn windfarm in the Touch Hills was under construction when Mr Brazao died.
The £27 million development was built by RDC Scotland. When planning permission was granted in 2004, RDC said the 14-turbine windfarm would generate enough electricity for half the homes in Stirlingshire.