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Fears Over Turbines Heighten With Blaze

Fears over the safety of wind turbines have been raised by residents fighting plans for the region's biggest windfarm after a North mast caught fire before Christmas

Objectors near the proposed Middlemoor site, north of Alnwick, said they were shocked after a blaze erupted on one of the new masts at the Nissan car plant at Washington on December 23.

A fault is believed to have set the 275ft-high structure on fire, destroying the mast and its three-bladed rotor.

Police were forced to close the nearby A1231 and A19 for over an hour-and-a-half, until the turbine had burned away, because of safety fears.

Middlemoor is to the west of the A1 trunk road and could contain up to 18 turbines, each of a height of over 400ft.

Npower renewables currently has an application lodged with the Department of Trade and Industry.

Last night local farmer Robert Thorp said the Nissan blaze wasn't the only recent incident that worried locals.

"It's the third serious incident to affect wind turbines in the North-East," he said.

"Exactly a year ago, all of the turbines in Hartlepool and East Durham were shut down following safety fears over their operation.

"In 2002, a turbine blade at Blyth collapsed, causing the harbour to be shut.

"The Nissan fire brings into sharp focus people's concerns over the careless siting of these risk-prone industrial structures.

"Why are they even thinking of putting these... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Objectors near the proposed Middlemoor site, north of Alnwick, said they were shocked after a blaze erupted on one of the new masts at the Nissan car plant at Washington on December 23.

A fault is believed to have set the 275ft-high structure on fire, destroying the mast and its three-bladed rotor.

Police were forced to close the nearby A1231 and A19 for over an hour-and-a-half, until the turbine had burned away, because of safety fears.

Middlemoor is to the west of the A1 trunk road and could contain up to 18 turbines, each of a height of over 400ft.

Npower renewables currently has an application lodged with the Department of Trade and Industry.

Last night local farmer Robert Thorp said the Nissan blaze wasn't the only recent incident that worried locals.

"It's the third serious incident to affect wind turbines in the North-East," he said.

"Exactly a year ago, all of the turbines in Hartlepool and East Durham were shut down following safety fears over their operation.

"In 2002, a turbine blade at Blyth collapsed, causing the harbour to be shut.

"The Nissan fire brings into sharp focus people's concerns over the careless siting of these risk-prone industrial structures.

"Why are they even thinking of putting these dangerous things close to homes, roads and public rights of way?"

The rotor on a modern turbine can weigh up to 37 tonnes, its blade tips travelling at speeds over 150mph.

Campbell Dunford, chief executive officer of the Renewable Energy Foundation, said: "The fire at the Nissan car plant, and the disruption to the local road system, shows that we need a much more responsible attitude to windfarm planning.

"It is an ill-informed and subjective affair at best in the UK. As Denmark has now concluded, if wind turbines belong anywhere, they belong well out to sea."

Elizabeth Mann, acting chair of the Durham branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "Back in September, CPRE warned that there are serious weaknesses in the planning regime for onshore windfarms.

"How many more accidents like this do we need to show us how dangerous wind turbines are?"

But a spokeswoman for npower renewables said: "Wind energy is one of the safest technologies ( no member of the public has ever been injured by a wind energy development or wind turbines anywhere in the UK."

Source: http://www.industrywatch.com

JAN 2 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/886-fears-over-turbines-heighten-with-blaze
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