Friday 23 August 2019

Probe as wind turbine collapse

A wind turbine which collapsed at Screggagh wind farm, Co Tyrone. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
A wind turbine which collapsed at Screggagh wind farm, Co Tyrone. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
A wind turbine which collapsed at Screggagh wind farm, Co Tyrone. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

A major investigation has been launched after an 80-metre wind turbine worth £2m collapsed on a mountainside.

No-one was injured when the giant structure worth about £2 million unexpectedly buckled and hit the ground, scattering debris across a wide area of mountainside in Northern Ireland.

It was one of eight turbines on the Screggagh wind farm located between Fintona and Fivemiletown in rural Co Tyrone.

Doreen Walker, director of the operation, said officials were "working closely" with turbine supplier Nordex UK to establish the cause of the collapse.

"The Screggagh wind farm has been completely shut down since the wind turbine collapsed on Friday evening," she said.

"It will remain shut down until Nordex UK Ltd has completed a full investigation in to the remaining seven wind turbines and confirms that they are safe to operate."

It is understood the rotor blades spun out of control and the sound of the mechanical structure crashing to the ground could be heard up to seven miles away. Some people compared it to an explosion while others claimed to have heard the sound of grinding metal throughout the day.

Parts of the turbine which had a tower height of 60m, an 80m rotor diameter, and an overall base to blade tip height of 100m remain embedded in the ground some distance from the main structure.

Wind speeds at the time of the turbine collapse have been described as "medium" measuring about 10 or 12 metres per second.

Ms Walker added: "There were fortunately no injuries and no personnel on site at the time.

"All of the debris from the collapsed wind turbine was contained within the wind farm site. No debris went on to the public road or neighbouring/adjoining land holdings."

The company said its emergency procedures had worked well.

"We are however satisfied that the site's precautionary health and safety alert processes worked well with local emergency services in attendance within minutes of the incident taking place," Ms Walker said.

The £26 million Screggagh wind farm was officially opened in March 2011. It consists of eight Nordex N80 2500kw turbines costing £2 million each.

The windfarm development generates approximately 50,000,000kW hours a year- enough renewable energy to power almost 11,927 homes on an annual basis.

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