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Turbine safety concerns

Following the unexplained collapse of a wind turbine at a Northern Ireland windfarm last week, one local politician has raised concerns over safety at windfarms closer to home.

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell is asking the Scottish Government, the Health & Safety Executive and Council Building Control to make them aware of the incident and asking if they are satisfied that all existing local developments are safe, with no likelihood of such a collapse.

Seven remaining wind turbines have been shut down at a wind farm near Fintona, County Tyrone, where a 100-metre high turbine collapsed last Friday night.

Mr Mundell has also expressed that new developments are being proposed with turbines closer to people’s homes and he has asked the Scottish Government and Council to confirm that minimum safe distances between housing and new Windfarms will be strictly enforced.

Mr Mundell said: “I was extremely concerned to learn about this incident at the Screggagh Windfarm in Co Tyronne. It is particularly troubling that there appears to be no obvious explanation such as very high winds at the time. The turbine involved is similar to many locally with a tower height of 60 metres, an 80 metres rotor diameter, and an overall base to blade tip height of 100 metres.

“I understand people in the area said the rotor blades were spinning out of control on the evening the turbine buckled. The sound of the failing mechanical structure was heard more than seven miles away and debris from the stricken turbine was scattered across the mountainside, with a large spike remaining impaled in the earth several hundred yards from the turbine site. I am pleased there were no injuries when the turbine collapsed.”

He added: “It’s now vitally important we get to the bottom of what happened and make sure there are no such incidents possible on local windfarms. That’s why I want to be clear that the Scottish Government, Health and Safety Executive and Building Control are all aware of this incident and the ongoing inquiry. I want to be reassured that all local turbines are completely safe and not in danger of collapse. We might not be so lucky next time to avoid injury or damage to property.

“I have been increasingly concerned about how close some proposed new developments are to people’s homes and this incident reinforces the need for regulation of that and for it to be enforced. So I am also raising those issues with the council and the Scottish Government. Of course, a better solution from my point of view would be to have no new windfarm developments locally at all.”

Local campaigner, Jerry Mulders added: “I share the concern that occasionally small mechanical equipment can fail.

“The concern I would have is with the developer promoting recreational and open areas for land on which windfarms are situated. I would be seeking reassurances from developers that windfarms are not open as recreational areas for things like horse riding as a safety precaution.”