The Highland Council (THC) has installed small-scale wind turbines in a number of school playgrounds. Following representations from members of the public and Highland Councillors concerned about the safety of these devices in close proximity to children, these generators were shut down while THC reviewed its risk assessments.
A THC document entitled “Review of Risk Management rrangements covering provision of Wind Turbines within Highland Council property establishments” was produced in November 2011. This document is not widely available and an intensive search of the THC website failed to find it. A Highland Councillor provided a copy to a member of the public who was concerned about the safety aspects of wind turbines in school playgrounds. Amongst other things, this document indicated that a policy in respect of school playground turbines was being prepared retrospectively.
Ultimately, THC engaged the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to assist in preparation of a risk assessment process. The expectation among concerned members of the public was that BRE would carry out actual risk assessments at the schools in question. BRE has taken part in the putting together of a system to manage and record safety related material and carried out useful site inspections of installed turbines. The actual (retrospective) risk assessments were carried out by Highland Council personnel based on a pro-forma WIND TURBINE RISK ASSESSMENT which
emerged from this process.
THC has now re-commissioned these turbines. The principal mitigation measure has been to halve the maintenance intervals. Head teachers have been provided with hand-held anemometers and are
to carry out certain tasks when wind speeds reach 80mph. Turbines are not allowed to operate in wind speeds in excess of 107mph.
Some of the concerns and proposed measures highlighted in the “Review of Risk Management” document have not been implemented, and an email from a Highland Council officer in response to
questions on this matter brushed aside the legitimate concerns of a person who had been pursuing the matter.
Stuart Young Consulting has been asked to review THC’s risk assessment and mitigation measures for Castletown Primary School, being a representative sample of the installations.
This paper examines:
• Review of Risk Management arrangements covering provision of Wind Turbines within Highland Council property establishments
• WIND TURBINE RISK ASSESSMENT for Castletown Primary School
• Email dated 7th November 2012 from Mr Martin Bell of Highland Council (appended)