July 20, 2005

Wind farm louder than rollercoaster?

The Sentinel Reporter of Stoke on Trent (U.K.) reported last Thursday (July 14) on the appeal by Alton Towers amusement park against noise restrictions imposed on it after a suit by Farley couple Stephen and Suzanne Roper.

The Roper's noise consultant, Mike Stigwood, testified that the noise level at the Roper's house was an average 10-15 dB higher when the park was open than when it was closed, and that it was "very unpleasant." "If it was like that day after day for the rest of my life," Stigwood said, "I wouldn't live with it. I'd move."

The park's barrister, Jonathan Caplan, questioned if Stigwood could be sure that the extra noise was from the park, suggesting that other noises, such as road traffic and wind farm machinery, completely masked those from the park.

Granted, Caplan was exaggerating those sources of noise (he even suggested that birdsong helped to hide the park's noise), but nonetheless it clearly illustrates that wind power facilities are considered to be significant sources of intrusive noise.

Note that the 10-dB increase that is described as making the Roper's home unlivable is a typical limit in rural areas. Subjectively, it represents a doubling of noise level. But in Oregon, wind developers successfully changed the law because they could not meet that already lenient standard.

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