CAMPAIGNERS have reacted with anger to allegations that civil servants suppressed warnings over health problems caused by the noise from wind turbines.
The revelation that current limits on wind turbine noise could be too high comes as planning authorities across the North-East and North Yorkshire consider proposals for more wind farms.
A draft report by consultants Hayes McKenzie Partnership (HMP) warned that in windy conditions the sound level permitted from spinning blades and gearboxes of 43 decibels could disturb nearby residents.
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The document said the best way to protect members of the public was to cut the maximum permitted noise to 38 decibels – or 33 decibels if the machines created discernible beating noises as they spun.
However, it has now emerged that the advice was removed from the final 2006 report.
It is thought the omission has led to hundreds of wind farms – including developments in the North-East – being allowed to generate higher noise levels.
Campaigner Helen Johnson, from North Hambleton Windfarm Action Group, said: “This means that residents near wind farms in the region may be suffering night time noise at levels greater than the World Health Organisation recommends for preservation of health.”
Environmental scientist John Wilson, from Bolam Area Action Group (Baag), set up in Bolam, near West Auckland, is fighting a plan by Npower Renewables to create a wind farm on the outskirts of the village.
He met Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, earlier this year and suggested to him that current regulations regarding wind farm noise were not sufficient to protect the public.
However, Mr Miliband told him he had seen no evidence to support this theory.
Mr Wilson said: “This is a huge issue – it’s disgusting.”
In response, a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said the original report had been published before the department had been formed and Mr Miliband appointed.
He added: “The changes between drafts were made by the consultants not DECC.
“Wind power remains a big part of our renewable energy policy, but of course each application is treated individually and fairly and all concerns are taken into account.”