Limits on wind turbine noise too high

The Northern Echo: STORM BREWING: A wind turbine spins on a snow-covered field near Sedgefield. Campaigners have voiced their anger over a report which claims civil servants suppressed warnings over noise level problems STORM BREWING: A wind turbine spins on a snow-covered field near Sedgefield. Campaigners have voiced their anger over a report which claims civil servants suppressed warnings over noise level problems

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.

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.”

Comments (4)

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1:02pm Mon 21 Dec 09

Super steve says...

The average normal background noise in rural areas is in the mid 30 decibels anyway, This is just the Nimbys flogging a long dead horse to try and prevent these much needed wind farms from going ahead. Even at night its a hard push to hear turbines over 350 yards away.
The average normal background noise in rural areas is in the mid 30 decibels anyway, This is just the Nimbys flogging a long dead horse to try and prevent these much needed wind farms from going ahead. Even at night its a hard push to hear turbines over 350 yards away. Super steve
  • Score: -1

2:21pm Mon 21 Dec 09

SadSally says...

Super Steve is oh so wrong! Rural background noise levels at night are usually 22 to 24 decibels. I.e quite enough to hear a mouse sqeak 100 yds away. The majority of complaints about turbine noise at night are from properties 750 m to 1000m away, and the recorded decibel levels are usually well over 40 dBA and as decibels are counted on a logarithmic scale, that level, over the background quietness, combined with the characteristic modulating thump disturbs sleep.
FACT!
Super Steve is oh so wrong! Rural background noise levels at night are usually 22 to 24 decibels. I.e quite enough to hear a mouse sqeak 100 yds away. The majority of complaints about turbine noise at night are from properties 750 m to 1000m away, and the recorded decibel levels are usually well over 40 dBA and as decibels are counted on a logarithmic scale, that level, over the background quietness, combined with the characteristic modulating thump disturbs sleep. FACT! SadSally
  • Score: 1

2:27pm Mon 21 Dec 09

deugar says...

Sadly misinformed on all counts. Wind turbines do keep people awake at night - that is undeniable. It is Environmetal Protection UK - an independent reputable environmental protection organisation that has highlighted this problem, not local residents. Wind power stations are not needed. Given that they take over 15 years to pay back the carbon used in the hundreds of tons of concrete and tens of thousands of vehicle journeys used to build them we are better off saving that carbon now by not building them. I notice that all those who use the phrase NIMBY have no idea of any of the facts about wind energy, climate change or the environment and just seem to enjoy having a go at other people they resent.
Sadly misinformed on all counts. Wind turbines do keep people awake at night - that is undeniable. It is Environmetal Protection UK - an independent reputable environmental protection organisation that has highlighted this problem, not local residents. Wind power stations are not needed. Given that they take over 15 years to pay back the carbon used in the hundreds of tons of concrete and tens of thousands of vehicle journeys used to build them we are better off saving that carbon now by not building them. I notice that all those who use the phrase NIMBY have no idea of any of the facts about wind energy, climate change or the environment and just seem to enjoy having a go at other people they resent. deugar
  • Score: 1

6:16pm Mon 21 Dec 09

Whaup says...

Super Steve.

As usual you are talking cobblers.

The Noise Act (1996) protects people from noisy neighbours who break a 35dB(A) threshold at night. A local EHO will act to stop this sort of noise.

The World Health Association's 'Night noise guidelines for Europe' (September 2009) provide ample evidence on how exposure to night noise can damage people's health.

They recommend an annual average night exposure not exceeding 40 decibels (dB).

As we know, most turbines are built in quiet rural areas where ambient noise levels are much lower than quiet streets in residential areas.

Turbines commonly emit noise that is measured at 40dB(A) plus at nearby homes at night, breaking WHO guidelines on night noise and the Noise Act (from which they are exempted).

Our local scheme - on the evidence of the applicant's own Environmental Statement - is unable to meet 40 dB(A) noise limits for properties at 750m or closer.
Super Steve. As usual you are talking cobblers. The Noise Act (1996) protects people from noisy neighbours who break a 35dB(A) threshold at night. A local EHO will act to stop this sort of noise. The World Health Association's 'Night noise guidelines for Europe' (September 2009) provide ample evidence on how exposure to night noise can damage people's health. They recommend an annual average night exposure not exceeding 40 decibels (dB). As we know, most turbines are built in quiet rural areas where ambient noise levels are much lower than quiet streets in residential areas. Turbines commonly emit noise that is measured at 40dB(A) plus at nearby homes at night, breaking WHO guidelines on night noise and the Noise Act (from which they are exempted). Our local scheme - on the evidence of the applicant's own Environmental Statement - is unable to meet 40 dB(A) noise limits for properties at 750m or closer. Whaup
  • Score: 1

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