Dear Madam, – Your paper of January 29 contained a complacent comment from Enterprise Minister Foster about the risk from collapsing wind turbines.
Complacent, because it was unsupported by any evidence, and this is hard to come by as the Health and Safety Executives do not put the results of their investigations into turbine collapse into the public domain.
For example, Dr P. Bratby, concerned at the collapse in moderate wind of the nearby turbine at Bratworthy, Devon, on January 13 2013, had to resort to a series of Freedom of Information requests before it was made public that the cause was incorrect installation procedure.
As was highlighted by a correspondent (Letters 29 January), the separation distance from turbine to domestic residence is critical, and the inadequate NI planning guidance of 10 times blade diameter is routinely ignored by the Department of Environment.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
Donegal County Councillors, inundated by complaints, have voted to insist on a separation of 10 times tip height (ie typically 1200 m. instead of 800m.). In England, a recent Appeal Decision (22 Dec 2014 ref APP/J0405/A/13/2205701) upheld planning refusal for four 120m. turbines for the substantive reason that a residence 800 metres away would be made uninhabitable. The refusal was immediately endorsed by Minister Eric Pickles.
Such decisions, based on visual and communication disturbances, and noise and health nuisance that follow when huge turbines are proposed too close to homes, should be replicated in Northern Ireland.
Since the DoE looks to the Environmental Health sections of local councils for guidance on health and safety, it is to be hoped that our new representatives taking office in May, and their officials, will at last start to treat this matter with due seriousness.
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