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Apr 28, 2007

Living with wind farm noise


Statement from Jane Davis of Deeping St. Nicholas.

My name is Jane Davis and I live 930 m from Deeping st Nicholas Wind farm just south of Spalding in South Lincolnshire.

There are 6 other houses a similar distance away from the turbines but ours is the only one downwind of the prevailing wind and our nearest neighbours are a quarter to half a mile away.

The wind farm was built last summer and became operational in early June — within 3 days we started having problems with the noise and hum emanating from the windfarm.

We did not object to the windfarm in the planning stage as we did not believe that there would be any issues for us, and we believed that wind power was a good way of meeting the energy gap. We did read some negative reports on the internet but could not believe there would be any issues for us as we were never specifically consulted, nor were any background noise readings taken at our house.

Since last June we have had constant issues with loud noises and low frequency sounds that create a hum in the house all the time. We have kept a log throughout. Many times last summer as we are downwind of the prevailing wind we were woken by loud “WHOOSHING” noises, that stopped us sleeping for more than 4 hours a night. We informed our local environmental health department in June and they came out and were astonished at the loud noise recordings that they made.

Due to the government’s preferred measure for assessing the noise from wind turbines known as ETSU-R-97, which averages noise peaks out over a period of time there is no recourse to justice under existing British law to assist us. We now know that although we were initially told less than 5% of wind farms have this problem the reality is likely to be in excess of 10% and research has been undertaken by the DTI & DEFRA which will be reported soon that will give further and better information on this. We hope that other research will follow. We have found the DTI & DEFRA and the wind farm operators to be supportive so far — but there isn’t anything that anyone can do, as …

We now know that we suffer from a phenomenon known as aerodynamic or amplitude modulation. We also know that “in general, turbines are noisier now than in 1993″. (Hayes McKenzie Partnership — Acoustic Experts in a report for Angus Council, Forfar, Scotland. June 2004). This seems to support the fact that the government found it necessary to set a specific measurement for wind turbine noise, and that there is a Noise Working Group that operates between DTI & DEFRA.

Aerodynamic modulation is not fully understood; Dr McKenzie from the Hayes McKenzie partnership in the closing statements in April 2007 for South Cambridgeshire District Council explained that:

Aerodynamic modulation exists, but there is no clear understanding as to what causes it.

  1. It causes sleep disruption.
  2. It is not covered by ETSU.
  3. This site (Deeping St Nicholas) is a likely candidate.
  4. There is a need to assess and potentially apply a correction to ETSU.

We do know and accept that not every wind farm creates noise issues but those that do make life impossible for those who live near them — and by near I mean less that 2km or 1.5 miles.

As a result of our difficulties we have been forced to find an alternative place to sleep — our sleeping house — which is 5 miles away in Spalding itself. After spending many nights “sofa-surfing” we reached the conclusion in December that we had to do this in order to be able to work and live safely — with a normal amount of sleep.

Because of our experiences we have been asked to many meetings across England and now Scotland by those areas where wind farm development is proposed. Most recently I have been to a public meeting in Farnell Village Hall to present my experiences in Deeping to St Nicholas to residents who live near the Monthreathmont, Angus site. Montreathmont is the forest/woodland on Montreathmont Moor where 19 x 120m turbines are proposed — about 6 miles from the Montrose Basin as the crow flies. The Mountboy site is on Rossie Moor is west of and within sight of Montreathmont. It almost borders the Montrose Basin SPA. Where 3 slightly smaller turbines are proposed.

What I find astounding is that wind farm developers and land owners will often attend these meetings with literature (as was the case in Farnell) that can really only be presented as including Terminological inexactitudes such as:

… “Modern wind farms are generally quiet”

… “property Values are not affected” (Our house which would previously have been worth about £180,000K is now likely to have a value of just the land £35K to 50K … and would not be marketable as a home for people to live in any longer.)

And finally:

… “I can categorically state that there is no significant infrasound from modern turbines.”

If the latter is true why do we have a report from Hayes McKenzie themselves that acknowledges that we do have low frequency here and this is also backed up by the fact that we are mole free?

One of our local land owners — who has some of our offending turbines on his land is now showing coach loads of people from other areas around “his” windfarm and reassures them that there is no noise from his turbines. He does not seem to see that there is anything wrong with that, but then I suppose given the income he is going to have annually over the next 25 years — he would say that wouldn’t he …

Source: Wind-Watch. Read the full article here.