Group raises safety concerns over windfarm

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Library picture

An action group has raised safety concerns over the Romney Marsh windfarm after a turbine was damaged in a suspected lightning strike.

The Save Our Marsh Block Rural Development Group (SOMBRE) believes it raises issues on the safety of windfarms.

A spokesman said: “A storm appears to have severely damaged one of the wind turbines at Little Cheyne, on Romney Marsh causing one of the 44 metre blades to fragment and throw debris from the central core of the blade to the ground.

“It is not clear if the turbine was struck by lightning or suffered a structural failure in the wind. Whatever the scenario it appears the 115 metre 275 tonne turbine has suffered considerable damage and will probably be out of action for some time.

“Members of SOMBRE have consistently expressed valid concerns about the safety of these industrial units with clear evidence from sites in the USA and Europe proving that the turbines can cause damage to land, property and people.

“The latest casualty – this time much closer to home – is one more statistic that supports our claim that wind turbines should be sited off shore.

“Developers are currently pushing for more turbines at Old Romney and Snave despite strong and vocal opposition from a large number of local parish and town councils, interest groups and residents. Such sites are not appropriate given the proximity of residential homes, and – as at Snave, a listed church.

“When severed from the main unit, a blade can travel a significant distance. We have gathered a wealth of data. The Caithness Wind farm Information Forum has documented turbine related accidents up to 2012.

“Research shows that ‘blade failure’ where whole blades or pieces of blade are thrown from a turbine accounts for the largest number of accidents.

“Pieces of blade are documented as travelling up to one mile from their source and in Germany, blade pieces have gone through the roofs and walls of nearby buildings.”

Mike Bartlett from SOMBRE said: “In this instance the debris has not been projected far but the manner in which the blade has delaminated obviously increases the potential for debris to be thrown, or even carried on the wind, over substantial distances.

“There are farm buildings just a short distance from the damaged turbine where people regularly work.”

Patricia Rolfe, from the group, said: “The 26 turbine development at Little Cheyne went ahead despite huge opposition to the scheme. Safety concerns were raised at that time, and we continue to highlight the issue of safety.”