By Laura Kitching, Dorset Echo, www.dorsetecho.co.uk 3 July 2010
A £20,000 wind turbine brought in to make a Portland primary school more environmentally friendly has been turned off because it was killing seabirds.
Headteacher Stuart McLeod, of Southwell Community Primary School, said they ‘tried everything’ to solve the problem but had no choice but to shut it down.
In the past few months the nine metre high generator has taken the lives of 14 birds – far higher than the manufacturer’s estimate of one per year.
The wind turbine was installed at the school around 18 months ago, thanks to grant funding, to provide six kilowatts of power an hour.
Mr McLeod said: “We’ve got the ideal location for wind power but unfortunately seagulls kept flying into it.
“We were told by the manufacturer to expect maybe one fatality a year but it killed 14 in six months so we took advice and made the decision to turn it off.
“If it had happened at night time you could understand that the birds couldn’t see the blades, which rotate at 135mph but it was happening at all different times of the day.”
Mr McLeod came into school early to clear up the fatalities but when the deaths happened at playtimes and lunchtimes, the children got upset and he worried about the impact on the birds.
He said: “The school governors investigated putting scaffolding up but that would impact on its performance, we thought about painting the blades a dazzle yellow but the manufacturer said that couldn’t be done.
“We’ve even gone as far as Stansted Airport to investigate bird-scaring plastic owls and we spoke to herring gull eyesight experts at the Natural History Museum.
“We’ve tried so hard to be eco-friendly but now we can’t turn it on.
“We can’t get rid of it either because we bought the turbine we had to apply for grants and the grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change states that it has to stay on site for five years.”
The school is now negotiating with Dorset County Council about the future of the wind turbine.