A SCHOOL in Wotton has been forced to remove its controversial wind turbine after receiving a noise abatement notice.

Blue Coat Primary School's prized 15-metre turbine was taken down in August after standing unused for a number of months.

Robert Weaver, environmental health officer at Stroud District Council, said: "As soon as it was operational, it was giving out unacceptable levels of noise at quite a lot of dwellings nearby, as well as some quite far away."

The school had been warned when it was granted planning permission in 2009 that if noise were to become an issue the turbine may have to be decommissioned.

Specialist engineers had worked with the school over a period of about eight months to try to reduce noise, but modifying the blade tips and even shortening the blades themselves had little effect.

Simon Weston, chairman of governors at Blue Coat School, said the school had taken a reluctant but pragmatic decision that they had reached the end of the road after the physical adaptations to the turbine provided no improvement to the noise.

Wotton resident Michael Toft, 61, who lives just 100 metres from the school, said he was relieved that the threat of permanent noise intrusion in his house and garden had been removed.

He said: "The turbine wasn't just noisy in high winds. It had a whole repertoire of sound effects, ranging from an inexorable swishing in light winds, through to chuffing like a never-arriving steam train in moderate winds, with the piece de resistance being a full-blown impression of a helicopter hovering over the field outside our garden when the wind was strong."

He added: "On a visual note, I don't think it's right that structures like this should be sited prominently on skylines within the Cotswolds AONB."

The school is now hoping to pass the turbine on to be used elsewhere, as the equipment is entirely functional.

Grant-funded, largely from the public sector, the turbine was part of the school’s renewable energy drive. Solar panels are also installed on site.

It was hoped that the turbine would engage children at Blue Coat with energy issues, as well as reduce the school’s carbon footprint and electricity bills.

Cllr Dennis Andrewartha, executive member for planning for Stroud District Council, said: "We explored every possibility to see if the school’s wind turbine could stay up and generate power but ultimately it was too noisy and affected too many residents.

"Since it went up we have had around 40 complaints about the noise nuisance and our officers have been out to assess the problem a number of times. We are great supporters of green energy so it was with reluctance that we had to see this wind turbine come down."

Mr Weston added: "We still take environmental education seriously. It’s nice to have practical things you can point at, but certainly our interest in making it [renewable energy] an important part of the curriculum is ongoing."