July 26th 2006
Within weeks of the Government's Energy Review proposing that planning controls be relaxed to speed up the introduction of wind farms, a new report reveals that badly-sited wind turbines can cause real noise problems for local communities.
In compiling its report, the Noise Association carried out a comprehensive review of the research done into wind farm noise. It found that the stress and annoyance some people experience as a result of noise from wind farms is made worse by the flicker effect created by the rotating blades of the turbines. The report concluded that this was the most likely reason why wind farm noise generates many more complaints than equivalent noise levels from other sources. The Noise Association research found that wind turbine noise can be a particular problem in rural areas, where many of the wind farms are sited, because of low background noise levels.
The report, however, does not come out against the building of wind farms. It argues that 'sensible siting' of wind farms can overcome most noise problems: "It's all about location, location, location." John Stewart, the author of the report, said, "It would be a mistake to see this as an anti-wind farm report. But there is a real danger that, in the enthusiasm to embrace clean technology, legitimate concerns about noise are being brushed aside."
The report recommends that:
- as a general rule turbines should not be sited within a mile of where people live
- the official government guidelines for the siting of wind farms be revised to take account of the more intrusive nature of the noise in areas where the overall background noise is low
- there be a clear and public recognition by the Wind Power Industry, which has tended to dismiss noise as an issue, that wind farms can cause real noise problems for some people. The report argues that this could open the door to "constructive discussion"
[Similarly, the French Academy of Medicine recommends a setback of 1.5 km (see "French Academy of Medicine warns of wind turbine noise"). For more about the growing evidence that industrial wind turbines cause vibroacoustic disease, see Nina Pierpont's new web site.]
wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines