Published: 16/09/2011 11:00 - Updated: 15/09/2011 14:16

Castletown school turbine fears

Written byby Gordon Calder

There are worries that a small turbine is too close to a children's play area.
There are worries that a small turbine is too close to a children's play area.

A SMALL wind turbine at Castletown Primary School has been placed too close to a children’s play area and could pose a risk to their safety.

That is the concern which was expressed by the village’s community councillors at their latest meeting.

Members felt the windmill should have been placed as far away as possible from the play area to prevent any potential problems.

Chairman Doug Fraser hit out and said: “It is ridiculous putting it where they did. Kids play there and do sports there. Children should be safe when they go to school, not maimed in the process. There seems no good reason for doing what they did.”

John Crowden took a similar view and suggested the turbine should have been installed at the other end of the field so it would be further away from pupils.

Mr Fraser said such a move would have cost more money and pointed out that at times ice can form on the blades and cause difficulties.

“A lump of ice came off a blade and punched a hole through the roof of a building at Forss. The turbine at Castletown school is much smaller but if ice came off the end of a blade then you could have a big problem,” he said.

Mr Fraser conceded it would be rare for that to happen but said it is “a possibility”. A member of the audience said kids could throw sticks and other objects at the blades which could also cause problems.

Mr Crowden said an exclusion zone should have been erected around the turbine to make it safer. “A fence should have been put around it before it went up not afterwards,” he stated.

Mr Crowden also noted some of the possible difficulties were highlighted in the risk assessment report but have not yet been addressed. “They have identified them but done nothing about them. It is worrying,” he said. “Very worrying,” added Mr Fraser.

Brenda Herrick, who first raised the issue at a meeting at the end of June, said the situation at Bower school was “even worse”.

She felt the turbines are dangerous and should not be within 500 metres of children. She claimed there were instances where blades have fallen off and others where the turbines have collapsed.

Members agreed to write to the Highland Council’s Caithness ward manager, David Sutherland, to express their concerns.

A local authority spokeswoman said a number of issues, including pupil safety and welfare, were investigated before the turbines were installed.

“All sites for wind turbines at Highland schools are taken through the full planning process and only when consent is granted will we progress to installation,” she added.

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