School wind turbines ‘could cause an injury’
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CALLS have been made by a local campaigner to remove every wind turbine from school grounds in Scotland before a child is killed.
Information Forum secretary Brenda Herrick said that action needs to be taken, and she described the erection of such structures at school as "sheer lunacy".
She welcomed the move by Highland councillors this week to call for risk assessments to be carried out for proposed turbines in Inverness and Nairn.
Councillors raised concerns about pupils being struck by malfunctioning machines and the fact that there was no reference to a fence or exclusion zone in either project.
Mrs Herrick said she was pleased with the move, adding that councillors were starting to realise the potentially deadly impact of turbines being so close to the schools.
"It is only a matter of
time before a turbine collapses or a blade flies off into a crowd of schoolchildren and causes serious injury," she said.
"I have safety concerns about all of them as I don’t think that there should be any wind turbines placed in schools – it is sheer lunacy.
"There are a lot of health-and-safety issues which stop children from taking part in certain activities, but yet they are happy to put these dangerous machines in the school yard.
"They should not be within 500 metres of children – there have been instances where blades have fallen off and others where the turbines have collapsed," she added.
The latest turbine application for a school in Caithness was at Halkirk Primary School which was withdrawn in December after concerns were raised by Halkirk Community Council and the Caithness Riding for the Disabled Association which
is situated next to the school.
Mrs Herrick claims, however, that the local community only became aware of the application after she had spoken out and said that the council is failing in its promise to carry out community engagement before submitting proposals.
"Parents were not even aware of the application until I had told them, therefore there can’t have been any community engagement, and this is proof that the Highland Council is not following its own guidelines.
"Once the application was common knowledge Halkirk Community Council had a lot to say about the proposal as did Caithness RDA.
"But there are schools in Caithness which have no buffer zones between them and the children, with two wind turbines in Caithness located on school football pitches beside the goalposts."
In the last few years, the Highland Council has embarked on a project of introducing wind turbines at schools to provide greener methods of producing energy and to save money.
A spokeswoman for the Highland Council dismissed claims that communities are not being kept aware of proposed developments, saying that information is available from its website.
"All proposals for wind turbine applications at primary schools go through the applications process which is in the public domain, she said.
"The public has the opportunity to have its say on any application online which goes through the Highland Council. The council undertakes a number of assessments in arranging
these installations and, of course, pupil safety and welfare is of the utmost importance.
"All sites are taken through full planning processes and only when consent is gained do they progress to installation.
"Site assessments are undertaken on sun, path and noise impact so that we can be assured that there will be no issues relating to the flicker and noise nuisance from the system.
"General and specific risk assessments are carried out for each installation, and
this is intended to be reviewed as plans develop and on systems at sites so that the council can improve on assessment, and maintenance and upkeep," she added.
She also confirmed that all turbines currently installed at the council’s schools are being serviced over the Easter break.
Applications in Caithness
Bower Primary School (granted)
Canisbay Primary School (withdrawn)
Castletown Primary School (granted)
Crossroads Primary School (granted)
Halkirk Primary School (withdrawn)
South Primary School, Wick (granted)
Thrumster Primary School (withdrawn)
Thurso High School (withdrawn)
Wick High School (granted)