Tuesday 10 December 2019

Wind turbine collapses in gales

Louise Gray

A CONTROVERSIAL 80ft wind turbine has collapsed after being hit by heavy winds.

The £250,000 (€291,000) tower, which stood as tall as a six storey building, was hit by gale force gusts of 50mph.

The structure then collapsed at a farm in Bradworth, Devon, England leaving a "mangled wreck".

Margaret Coles, Chairwoman of Bradworthy District Council, said hail storms and strong winds have hit the area and the turbine, installed just three years ago, simply could not withstand the wind.

"The bolts on the base could not withstand the wind and as we are a very windy part of the country they [the energy company] have egg on their face," she said. "There are concerns about safety."

The Bradworthy Parish Council, who opposed the turbine, expressed concern that there was “nothing exceptional” in the speed of the winds.

Installed by renewable energy company Dulas it was supposed to have a life expectancy of 25 years.

They noted that “wind speeds are part of our root-cause investigation”.

It was erected in July 2010 despite fierce opposition from local residents, who said it would be a noise and visual nuisance.

Councillor Keith Tomlin said: "We are relieved that no one was injured. But had this happened in daytime there was a chance of serious injury to workers on the farm where it was located or to the public on the road nearby.

"Of greater concern is that Torridge District Council have recently approved the erection of a second turbine of the same size and manufacture at this location that would have been closer to the public road."

Mrs Coles said energy companies have been targeting the area, with around 25 turbines put up in the last few years.

"These companies are trying to cover what was once a remote rural area with concrete."

The Endurance Wind Power E-3120 50kW device was the first model of its kind to be erected in the UK when it was installed at East Ash Farm in Bradworthy.

A spokesman for Wales-based firm Dulas said the generator had a five-year warranty, adding: “We can reassure the local community that due to the isolated location of the turbine, no one was put at risk and we are currently working hard to establish the precise cause of the incident.

“Our technical team is one of the most experienced in the UK. They are working alongside the turbine manufacturer to conduct a full root-cause analysis investigation. We will continue to keep communication open and provide updates as and when we have further information.”

Initially it was thought the turbine or its mechanics had burst into flames, but since there were no witnesses, this cannot be confirmed until the investigations are finished.

Bob Barfoot, North Devon chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, was concerned for safety as more turbines of the same type are installed around the country.

He said it was a relatively cheap turbine, easily available and there must be hundreds "built, approved or in the planning system."

"It is very worrying. If it is a design fault it must be on all the other turbines. This is one of the most popular turbines in the country.

"I would not want to live next to one".

The owners of East Ash Farm have recently been granted planning permission by Torridge District Council to erect a second device.

The Government want to build thousands more turbines over the next ten years in England.

In 2011 one turbine fell over and another burst into flames in Scotland.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said that wind turbines are “inappropriate” in certain parts of the English countryside, such as pretty areas with stone churches and houses in dingly dells.

He said the East Midlands is particularly under threat because it is a windy area that is not designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or a National Park.

Other areas of the "shires" with stone churches and houses in "dingly dells" are also inappropriate for wind, he said.

In a speech to celebrate 100 years of fighting for national monuments around Britain he pledged to fight turbines in important countryside.

"Onshore windfarms still take up a lot of our time. There are huge numbers of applications nationally, and we object to very few. But the East Midlands is a target for energy companies as there are very few restrictive landscape designations. However it is an area of quintessentially English countryside and many of these wind farms have a major effect on country houses, villages, churches destroying locally and nationally loved views."


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