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Wind turbines return to Palestra

A year after they were removed from the Blackfriars Road skyline, wind turbines are to be reinstalled on the roof of Palestra, home of the Mayor's London Development Agency.

Wind turbines return to Palestra

Fourteen Swift turbines were installed on the roof of the Will Alsop-designed office building in November 2006 and operated for approximately six weeks before being recalled by the manufacturer Renewable Devices due to a component failure.

When the turbines were removed at the end of January 2007 the London Development Agency said that they would be reinstated "in around a month's time".

A year has now elapsed and last week the London Climate Change Agency, which is based at Palestra, last week announced that it will install just a handful of the 14 turbines on a trial basis.

The new Swift II wind turbine – which has been developed by Renewable Devices using re-engineered software and different construction to the original Swift Turbines – and one other turbine – will be trialled for 3 to 4 months.

In a statement issued last week the London Development Agency said: "The LCCA has worked continuously with Solar Technologies Ltd to re-install or replace the wind turbines following the product recall. However Scottish and Southern Energy have refused to re-install the wind turbines on behalf of Solar Technologies Ltd. Therefore the LCCA has decided to re-install the new turbines outside of the Solar Technologies Ltd original contract."

Palestra, which already houses the London Development Agency, is due to become the base for hundreds of Transport for London staff later this year.

In 2006 the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said that the Palestra wind turbine scheme "demonstrates my commitment for the Greater London Authority organisations to lead the way in taking measures to tackle climate change through reducing carbon emissions".

The renewable energy scheme of fourteen turbines and several solar panels was installed on the roof of Palestra at a cost of 436,000.

Figures released by the LDA last autumn show that in its first eleven months the scheme produced electricity with an economic value of 3,560.

Peter Hulme Cross, One London Party member of the London Assembly said last October that "solar and wind turbine projects are a waste of money".

He added: "So much for this being a 'flagship' project. The lesson for anyone concerned with energy conservation is to look elsewhere for energy-efficient solutions. A healthy layer of insulation is a good, low-cost start.

"This scheme is an expensive flop. At this rate, it will take over a century to recoup its costs. All the LDA has succeeded in doing is proving the futility of these projects. We told them this at the outset, at no cost to the taxpayer."

• A planning application has been submitted for the installation of two micro wind turbines on the roof of the telephone exchange above the post office in Blackfriars Road.

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