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Turbine scheme branded a ‘fiasco’

A government-sponsored scheme set up to encourage farmers to use renewable energy has been branded a "fiasco" by the assembly's agriculture committee. Up to 26 turbines were installed under the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's (Dard) Wind Energy for Rural Businesses project. Dard appointed the Western Regional Energy Agency and Network (Wrean) to deliver the scheme, which was set up in 2003. However, the now-defunct project experienced serious problems as far back as May 2006 when the towers of two PowerBreeze turbines imported from China bent and their blades fell off. Blades on a further two PowerBreeze turbines have since fallen off and five other turbines are not in use for health and safety reasons. A further three turbines made by US firm Jacobs are not working although they can be repaired. Two of the farmers affected are now suing Adman, the company who supplied the PowerBreeze turbines. Wrean is due to cease its operations this month, partly as a result of the failed scheme.

A report by Dard into the project had been expected to be published this week. But Kevin Murphy, head of European... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A government-sponsored scheme set up to encourage farmers to use renewable energy has been branded a "fiasco" by the assembly's agriculture committee. Up to 26 turbines were installed under the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's (Dard) Wind Energy for Rural Businesses project. Dard appointed the Western Regional Energy Agency and Network (Wrean) to deliver the scheme, which was set up in 2003. However, the now-defunct project experienced serious problems as far back as May 2006 when the towers of two PowerBreeze turbines imported from China bent and their blades fell off. Blades on a further two PowerBreeze turbines have since fallen off and five other turbines are not in use for health and safety reasons. A further three turbines made by US firm Jacobs are not working although they can be repaired. Two of the farmers affected are now suing Adman, the company who supplied the PowerBreeze turbines. Wrean is due to cease its operations this month, partly as a result of the failed scheme.

A report by Dard into the project had been expected to be published this week. But Kevin Murphy, head of European Policy Brand at Dard, told the agriculture committee yesterday he needed to review key issues and seek legal advice from the department's solicitors before it could be published. Mr Murphy said he "did not know" if the farmers' affected would receive compensation. He also said he did not know if Dard were planning to claw back any public money lost as a result of the failures.

However, Mr Murphy's comments were met by an angry response from committee chair, DUP assembly member William McCrea, who alleged the department was "passing the buck". "The department holds the responsibility to the farmers and people who trusted him," he said. "You have created a fiasco. You should have been leading the way for these schemes but you've brought them into disrepute. It really does seem that the department is looking for someone else to blame." Mr McCrea also questioned if the department's review was completely independent. "I have some concerns about the defensiveness that you have shown about the report," he said. "It makes me wonder how independent and objective you are. But I stand to be proved wrong."

In June, a Co Down farmer who spent £45,000 installing one of the PowerBreeze turbines told The Irish News he wanted his money back. Edward Carson from Tyrella, set up an 80ft turbine but it has not generated any electricity in three years. "If it had worked I imagine there would've been no shortage of ministers and civil servants queuing up to get their photograph taken but, as it turns out, they don't want to know," he said.


Source: http://www.irishnews.com/se...

SEP 10 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17073-turbine-scheme-branded-a-fiasco
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