David Mundell, the Deputy UK Minister for Scotland – and whose constituency is in Scotland – has raised fears about the safety of wind turbines the following unexplained collapse at wind farm in Northern Ireland.
Mundell, MP for Dumfriesshire, has written to 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 the wind farm near Fintona in County Tyrone, where a 100-metre high turbine collapsed last week. Supplied by Nordex, a German manufacturer, theturbine – valued at more than £500,000 – was one of eight on Screggagh wind farm on Murley mountain.
Mundell is concerned that similar new developments are being proposed with turbines closer and closer to peoples’ homes and so has asked the Scottish Government and council to confirm that minimum safe distances between housing and new windfarms will be strictly enforced.
He said: “I am extremely concerned to learn about this incident at the Screggagh windfarm in Co. Tyrone. 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. 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 the council building control inspectors 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.”
A spokesman for wind industry body RenewableUK, said: “A thorough investigation is already underway into what happened in this extremely rare incident. The wind industry takes health and safety issues very seriously, and the lessons learned from this will be implemented as swiftly as possible.”
£250m worth of Nordex turbines in Scotland continue to operate as normal
Nordex provides design, manufacture, installation and servicing of wind turbines, It has installed some 280 wind turbines in Scotland – around half of which are of the same model as that in N. Ireland – varying from single-turbine sites in the Borders and the Orkneys, wind farms with more than 20 turbines near Inverness in projects totalling more than €250 million.
Operating with 30 staff from its base at Loanhead near Edinburgh, Nordex has brought its expertise in wind energy to a variety of developments with leading operators in the sector including the Crystal Rig, Earlsburn and Millenium projects with Fred Olsen Renewables.
In addition, Nordex is currently working on the Craigengelt project near Stirling for Suez GdF and the Tullo development near Aberdeen for Eneco.
Nordex’s main focus is on turbines which are suited to high wind speed sites – making its products ‘ideal for installation in Scotland’.
Speaking from Germany, a Nordex spokesman confirmed that company had checked all of these turbines and that they are all continuing to operate as normal.