Noise pollution from wind turbines
September 20, 2007
by Julian Davis and S. Jane Davis
Julian and Jane Davis reside on a farm in the Fens in Lincolnshire England. Shortly following the construction of a wind farm within 1000 meters of their home they had started to hear the noise of the turbines. This important paper, presented at the Wind Turbine Noise conference Sep 20-21, 2007, in Lyon, France, documents the “devastating effects of wind turbine noise pollution when wind farms are sited too close to homes or otherwise inappropriately sited.”
Although wind energy has a role to play in the renewable energy sector, when wind turbines are sited too close to people's homes, the noise pollution has dire consequences on those who live nearby. The authors, who live within 930 metres of the nearest wind turbine of a wind farm, document their personal experiences that underscore research findings on the adverse impact of wind turbine noise on human well-being, as well as present the results of sound data measured by acousticians at their home. The paper describes the nature of the noise - with its pulsating character, the vibrations felt by the body, and its intrusiveness, as well as the impact on their lives. The authors note that rural environments, which are attractive to the wind energy industry, are especially challenging because background noise is low or virtually non-existent, particularly at night. Yet current UK guidelines, set by the Government in 1997 with significant input by the wind energy industry, offer no respite to those who live near wind turbines or those communities analyzing current wind turbine applications from developers. The authors suggest that the wind energy industry would gain credence by acknowledging that there are gaps in the ability to predict with accuracy whether wind turbines will create noise pollution. Moreover, the industry could avoid the issue altogether by placing wind turbines further from homes. This solution would simultaneously contribute to the credibility of the wind energy industry while protecting the public's health and their right to the amenities of their homes.