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Leominster school pulls the plug on turbine

The plug on a school’s green dream has been pulled after the maintenance cost of running its wind turbine were greater than the benefit of the electricity generated.

Now, a Leominster councillor has slammed the decision to install the turbine, which was turned off within one year of its launch at a cost of more than £150,000.

The turbine was installed at Earl Mortimer College with the intention of providing renewable electricity for the school.

It cost £156,964 and was paid for by funding under the ‘Building Sustainable School for the Future, One School Pathfinder project’ but was turned off as it was not commercially viable.

Councillor Peter McCaull said: “I think it’s terrible.

It’s so easy to spend other people’s money – there is no accountability.

“It’s been turned off after one year, all that public money down the drain.”

A similar wind turbine, erected at the Aberystwyth offices of the Welsh government in 2009, cost £48,000.

And a Freedom of Information request revealed that it produced so little electricity that it would take 400 years to repay.

“The one in Leominster cost almost £157,000,” added cllr McCaull.

“I want to know how much it was producing in 2010, and how long it would take to pay that back.”

Herefordshire Council said that by integrating the turbine into the design of the school, an extra £500,000 was secured in central government funding for the construction of the school.

In a statement, Herefordshire Council said: “The contract was ‘design and build’ so the decision to incorporate the turbine was taken in the acceptance, as part of the overall successful design, by the Project Board for the New Earl Mortimer College, (as it was named then).

“The council doesn’t hold records relating to the amount of electricity generated.

However, the levels of electricity produced will have several determining factors, such as wind speed and frequency, which could not be definitively determined prior to installation.

“The decision to turn off the turbine was taken by the college as the cost of running the turbine was greater than the electricity it was generating.

“Part of the financial viability of such an installation is dependent on claiming the government-backed feed-in tariffs (FiTs) for the electricity generated, however, as the initial cost of the turbine was met through government funding this precludes the school from benefitting from FiTs.”

Earl Mortimer College had not responded to the Hereford Times at the time of going to press.