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UFO turbine mystery: the theories in full

UFOs have been widely blamed for the destruction of a wind turbine in Lincolnshire. But is there a more rational explanation for the damage? Here are a few of the theories:

 
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Damaged wind turbine - UFOs spotted 'by hundreds' at wind turbine site
The wind turbine at the centre of the mystery Photo: NEWSTEAM
Artist's impression of Taranis - UFO turbine mystery: the theories in full
A British Aerospace spokesman said development of Taranis, the unmanned demonstrator aircraft, was progressing at pace, but it had just started final assembly of the first prototype and was some way off making its maiden flight Photo: BAe systems

Ice in the blades

Rain water could have made its way into hairline cracks on the blade. As it expanded to become ice it may have weakened the structure. But this does not explain why one of the blades came loose from the central hub, rather than splitting in the middle.

Ice block from another turbine

There are 20 turbines packed into the site at Conisholme. Could ice that built up on the blades of neighbouring turbine in the recent freezing weather have flown off and caused the damage?

Blade just fell off

The most likely explanation, according to Fraser McLachlan whose firm insures thousands of turbines. He says that there are half a dozen instances of blades separating from turbines a year, usually because they were not properly attached. "Sometimes machines just break," he said. The blade that flew off could have hit the other blade, explaining the damage.

Hit by an aircraft

Lincolnshire has many air force bases and other airfields, and RAF Scampton, where the Red Arrows are based, is close to the wind farm. But experts say the plane would have come off worse in any collision, and no wreckage was found at the site. No local planes have been reported damaged or missing. The MoD has denied earlier reports that any testing of new Taranis unmanned stealth aircraft was taking place and confirmed that the nearby Donna Nook test range was closed to any low flying aircraft over Christmas until the January 6. Taranis is not due to begin testing until 2010. The Civil Aviation Authority also confirmed that they had not granted any permission for the flight of unmanned aircraft, which are banned in UK airspace without special arrangement.

Frozen urine dropped from plane

Passenger jets are meant to drop their lavatory waste over the sea, but there have been several instances of loads being released on land and causing damage on the ground. It sounds far-fetched but may be the most credible collision explanation, as the urine would have thawed and drained into the soil.

Hit by a bird.

It would have taken an enormous bird cause that amount of damage to a fibre glass turbine. Dale Vince, who owns the wind farm company, said it would have taken something the size of a cow to mangle the turbine, and Fraser McLachlan says he has never heard of a turbine being hit by an external object.

Fireworks

Locals have claimed that the "glowing spheres" could have been fireworks from their birthday party. But fireworks do not hang in the air or "zoom" parallel to the ground as witnesses described. Also, the theory does not explain the turbine damage

Vandalism

The turbines are more than 200ft high, so the vandals would have needed a ladder, and nerves of steel.

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