The malfunction is believed to have occurred last Thursday night or in the early hours of Friday morning at the Meenanilta wind farm near Drumkeen.
Cllr Kennedy is putting the issue of the proliferation of wind turbines in Donegal under the spotlight of her General Election campaign.
Speaking of this latest incident she said “This information came from concerned local residents but there appears to be no official acknowledgement by the owners of the development nor has the Council or the HSA been informed. This is the usual sequence of events with turbine accidents and we have had a few in the County in recent years. There are also concerns expressed to me by the public, and the media, that access to the site is being prevented by private security guards and the owners, a Dublin company, Redwind Energy have not been available for comment”
From an examination of the Council planning files Ms Kennedy points to a convoluted planning history.
Meenanilta Phase 1, 2 and 3 were developed by Redwind Energy whose director John Ward has an address in Clontarf, Dublin. He has been more recently to the fore with the overturning by an An Bord Pleanala (ABP) of a 13 turbine project in Altnagcapall, Ardara and the massive 38 turbine project for Straboy, Glenties which was refused permission after a three week Oral Hearing by ABP in Glenties in 2012.
Meenanilta 3 was the subject of several revisions in planning plus an extension of time and an increase in hub height and rotor diameter. Apparently this latest phase of four turbines with a rotor blade of 48 metres and a tip height of 84 metres was only erected in 2011.
Ms Kennedy expressed concerns that turbine accidents seem to be “swept under the carpet.”
She said “In Corkermore, near Killybegs in 2013 we had a rotor come off a turbine that impaled itself ten metres into the bog and the same year there was the total collapse of an 80 metre turbine between Ardara and Narin. There have been no reports published on either of these serious incidents and now we have another one. I have to ask have we learned anything? Why are turbines seemingly outside of the usual rule of law for industrial accidents? Was this accident reported to the HSA and an inspector appointed to investigate? Why was the site not cordoned off for technical examination and why are the other three turbines in the same wind farm still operating?”
“These are questions from the local community that concern me deeply and it is disturbing to hear today that specialist cranes have arrived on site to dismantle the turbine rather than an investigation being set up. This is not the way to deal with potentially a life threatening incident. A simple Google search throws up countless incidents of a more serious nature the world over some involving the death of maintenance workers and I dread to think that we await the death of a worker or member of the public before proper procedures are put in place.
“I am calling for a proper investigation and an examination of all turbines in Donegal particularly for metal fatigue as many are over 10 and 15 years old. This only highlights the requirement for a reasonable setback distance between turbines and homes. We set that at ten times turbine height in a Variation to the County Development Plan in 2014 and it was shamefully overturned by Minister Alan Kelly but is at the moment subject to a Judicial Review in the High Court by Cllr John Campbell.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Finn Valley Wind Action (FVWA) group, which is opposing plans to build Ireland’s biggest wind farm in Carrickaduff, has called for a full investigation.
“Clearly, this highlights safety concerns, raising the issue of setback distances from homes. The investigation is vital to identify the cause of the incident, could it have been caused by high winds, lightning or was it mechanical failure? We are faced with the prospect of 49 turbines of twice that height being built far too close to our homes”