September 15, 2014

How could the collapse of wind turbines in Devon and Cornwall affect Lincolnshire?

Lincolnshire Echo | September 14, 2014 |

An anti-windfarm campaigner fears safety reports after turbines in Devon and Cornwall blew down in winter weather could have serious ramifications for Lincolnshire.

Melvin Grosvenor, chairman of Marsh Windfarm Action Group who is supporting the campaign against windfarms in Nocton Fen and Hemswell Cliff, spoke after it emerged the turbines were not properly secured in the ground.

He said: “I think there could potentially be a problem in this respect with existing turbines in Lincolnshire. This also has to be looked at by those planning future developments.

“We have had concerns about turbines being sited too close to homes and roads and I would concur with the communities near these turbines in Devon and Cornwall that there are safety concerns.

“There is also the issue of components coming off turbines like when a blade came off the turbine at Conisholme a few years back.”

Mr Grosvenor commented after the Health and Safety Executive produced two reports into two cases of turbines being blown down in Devon and Cornwall during the winter.

The turbines –designed to withstand winds of more than 115mph – came down when the wind was blowing at about 50mph.

The HSE says the causes were manufacturing and installation errors, which could have already been repeated elsewhere.

Its reports have been released following Freedom of Information requests.

There are 300 of the types of turbines that collapsed, of which 39 have been repaired to prevent any further incidents.

Dr Philip Bratby, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, a retired physicist told Mail Online: “Safety standards in my line of work were paramount.

“We constantly monitored, tested and maintained equipment but this does not seem the case with turbines.

“These two failures were catastrophic. The towers came crashing down with great force from a great height.

“It was only down to luck it happened in the night and no people or animals were injured or killed.

“The wind industry is very secretive about everything it does. It won’t publicise any definitive information about accidents so it is impossible to make an independent assessment of the risks.

“I accept that the dangers from wind turbines located on farms without public access and remote from public rights of way are probably acceptable.

“That is not always the case. They have been located close to roads and railways, at workplaces, in schools, hospitals and parks without any formal assessment of the dangers. I think that is unacceptable.

“I am not convinced that we are learning from the bad experiences and feeding those lessons back into the education of designers and constructors because the industry is growing so rapidly.

“The size of these turbines seems to keep on increasing and I believe the dangers will increase accordingly. The bigger the turbine that fails, the bigger the potential for disaster and death

“We should be asking ourselves whether we are at a tipping point as the first-generation technology is exposed and compromised.”

Chris Streatfeild, director of health and safety with Renewable UK, the industry trade association, said: “Manufacturers, installers and owners work hard to ensure that they meet extremely stringent health and safety standards.

“There’s a rigorous process, verified by independent bodies, to ensure strict installation standards and safe siting. That’s why problems are so rare.

“When incidents do occur, it’s important to learn from them and implement any lessons fully and promptly. Any serious incident has to be reported to the HSE and we work closely with them to ensure high standards are maintained.

“To put this into its proper context, no member of the public has ever been injured by a wind turbine. It’s unfortunate a handful of anti-wind campaigners are choosing to indulge in scaremongering.

“Climate change is a real and pressing issue. When it comes to generating clean electricity, onshore wind is the most cost-effective way so we should be making the most of it.”

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