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Wind turbine built in wrong place is ‘too close’ to road, warns MP

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:58 15 February 2017

The turbine at Blagdon Cross, near Holsworthy, was built closer to the A388 than agreed by Torridge District Council. Picture: Contributed

The turbine at Blagdon Cross, near Holsworthy, was built closer to the A388 than agreed by Torridge District Council. Picture: Contributed

Archant

Blades are within ‘topple distance’ of road but experts say there is more chance of getting struck by lightning than being killed by falling turbine

Planning permission is being sought for a wind turbine built in the wrong place.

The 77-metre-high turbine at Blagdon Cross near Holsworthy was built closer to the A388 than agreed by Torridge District Council – and is now within ‘topple distance’ of the road.

The turbine at Nethercott Farm is 60m from the centre of the road, some 56m short of the minimum distance advised by the Highways Agency.

It is one of three granted planning consent in July 2014. Two were built in 2015 and the third was constructed last summer. All three are understood to be operational.

The turbine at Blagdon Cross, near Holsworthy, was built closer to the A388 than agreed by Torridge District Council. Picture: Contributed The turbine at Blagdon Cross, near Holsworthy, was built closer to the A388 than agreed by Torridge District Council. Picture: Contributed

The blades would hit the road in the event of collapse and it is assumed that any impact on a car or person would cause a fatality.

Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox is among those who have written to the council to express concern over the position of the turbine, as well as second turbine positioned 80m from the road.

He said: “In their current position, they pose a significant threat to road users, as the distance is not sufficient to prevent the turbines from landing on the road in the event that they should fall over.”

But risk experts consulted by Green Cat Renewables on behalf of the applicant said there was more risk of getting struck by lightning than killed by a falling wind turbine.

The report submitted to the council by MMI Engineering said the risks were ‘well-within the broadly acceptable range’.

A spokesman for Green Cat Renewables said: “Unfortunately there were some administrative errors which resulted in the turbine being unintentionally positioned closer to the road than consented, although it is within the approved planning application boundary.

“As part of the application to vary the consent, consultants were commissioned to assess the likelihood of a fatality on the road caused by mechanical or structural failure of the turbine.

“The chance was calculated at one in 41.5 million per year, which lies well within the lowest risk category defined by the Health and Safety Executive.

“By comparison, the risk of a fatality from being struck by lightning is one in 18 million, which is 2.3 times more likely than the possible risk posed by the turbine.”

But the district council will have the final say on whether the development is acceptable in the new location.

A spokesperson for the council said the application was in its very early stages and a 13-week determination period would end on April 19.

He said: “The planning officer will wait for consultee responses before reviewing the relevant files

“Such applications would normally be delegated decisions, but that depends whether there is a member call-in.”

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