TURBINE TROUBLE: Questions over wind farm ‘dry run’ on icy Isle of Skye roads

The lorry crossing to Skye on Tuesday. Pic BWAG

Questions were being asked this week as to why a test run for the transportation of wind turbine blades through Skye was allowed to go ahead in treacherous weather. 

A huge heavy haulage vehicle carried out the journey in heavy snow and icy conditions on Tuesday morning, from Kyle harbour to Ashaig airstrip near Broadford, hampering already slow moving traffic.

The Breakish wind farm action group filmed the lorry’s journey

The run was designed to demonstrate that a vehicle carrying one of the giant blades for turbines could navigate the Skye Bridge, Kyleakin roundabout and the turn into Ashaig airstrip.

The vehicle, operated by Yorkshire heavy haulage specialists Collett, was not carrying a blade but had a “wand” stretching many metres out of the back of the truck to replicate the length of a blade.

Despite atrocious weather, the test run went ahead with police and other support vehicles clearing a path along the route.

The truck became stuck on ice at the Kyleakin roundabout with wheels spinning for a short period before the vehicle gained traction and continued its journey to Ashaig.

The lorry at Ashaig airfield, where turbines will be stored. Pic BWAG

The dummy run was associated with the SSE consented wind farm extension at Bhlaraidh, Glen Moriston which is due to start construction later this year, with components to be stored at Ashaig airfield.

The second stage of the trial run – between Ashaig and the proposed wind farm site – did not go ahead.

Skye Highland councillor John Finlayson said: “I can appreciate the concerns of residents about the test runs that were taking place in terms of vehicles mapping out possible routes for the storage of blades at Ashaig. 

“Personally I do not think the information was well communicated so people were aware of the plans and, secondly, why this went ahead in the challenging weather conditions we had, is again difficult to understand.”

Nick Ferguson, co-chairman of the Breakish Wind Farm Action Group, said: “It beggars belief that this test run went ahead.

“On one of the worst days of winter weather on Skye in years, Police Scotland traffic vehicles were required to clear a path for the convoy.

“I am sure they could have been better deployed elsewhere on Highland roads as the snow continued to fall all morning.

“Traffic movements were already at a snail’s pace before the convoy blocked the only road onto Skye from the east.

“I hate to think what the cost of the exercise was, but this is a sign of things to come. If just a handful of the proposed wind farm developments get the go ahead on Skye, we will face years of daily disruption to our lives.”

A spokesperson for SSE Renewables said: “A specialist vehicle carried out a trial run, travelling from Kyle of Lochalsh to Broadford under the guidance and supervision of Police Scotland, on Tuesday morning.

“A full risk assessment was carried out ahead of the journey.

“As the weather conditions changed into the late morning, the safety of the trial was reassessed and the trial run was halted.

“Access was maintained for emergency vehicles at all times and vehicles were able to pass the trial run vehicle at a number of points along the short route.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank road users and the local community for their patience and understanding whilst we carried out this trial run.”

Article by Jackie MacKenzie.