Impact on People and Noise
The following links are to three audio interviews conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Company to investigate Mr. d'Entremont's claim that noise from the Pubnico Point wind plant has driven his family from its home. Editor's Note: Real Player is required to listen to these interviews.
Wind power is a relatively new generator of electricity in Sweden. Legislation and
regulation regarding noise from wind turbines in Sweden have been discussed. Eja
Pedersen at Halmstad University has at the request of the Swedish Environmental
Protection Agency prepared this report as a base for further discussions on regulation and
guidelines on noise from wind turbines in Sweden. The report reviews the present
knowledge on perception and annoyance of noise from wind turbines in residential areas
as well as in recreational areas. It also summarizes regulations in some European
countries. The author Eja Pedersen is responsible for the content of the report.
Stockholm, August 2003
SWEDISH ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY Report 5308
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.”
Wind turbines are large industrial structures that create obtrusive environmental noise pollution when built too close to dwellings. This annotated review of evidence and research by experts considers the impact of industrial-scale wind turbines suffered by those living nearby. First, the paper includes the comments by some of the families affected by wind turbines, as well as coverage in news media internationally. The experiences described put a human face to the science of acoustics.
Second, the paper reviews research articles within the field of acoustics concerning the acoustic properties of wind turbines and noise. The acoustic characteristics of wind turbines are complex and in combination produce acoustic radiation. Next, the paper reviews the health effects that may result from the acoustic radiation caused by wind turbines, as well as the health effects from noise, because the symptoms parallel one another. Primarily, the consequent health response includes sleep deprivation and the problems that ensue as a result. In addition, this paper reviews articles that report research about the body's response not only to the audible noise, but also to the inaudible components of noise that adversely affect the body's physiology. Research points to a causal link between unwanted sound and sleep deprivation and stress, i.e., whole body physiologic responses.
These injuries are considered in the context of Human Rights, where it is contended that the environmental noise pollution destroys a person's effective enjoyment of right to respect for home and private life, a violation of Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights Act. Furthermore, the paper considers the consequent devaluation of a dwelling as a measure of part of the damage that arises when wind turbines are sited too close to a dwelling, causing acoustic radiation and consequent adverse health responses.
The review concludes that a safe buffer zone of at least 2km should exist between family dwellings and industrial wind turbines of up to 2MW installed capacity, with greater separation for a wind turbine greater than 2MW installed capacity.
The expressions “Environmental Sustainability” and “Resource Management” may seem to be synonymous. In the original concept this could have been the intent, but now that we have in operation a number of alternative energy sources to offset the use of fossil fuels, unforeseen emissions may be affecting local communities in the vicinity with the possibility of public health being compromised. Wind farms are an alternative energy source and the effects of noise emissions on the health of people living within several kilometres of the wind farms is becoming a concern. The noise level from a wind farm may be quite low, but its characteristics compared to that of the normal background sound make it stand out as something quite different, and its ability to excite room resonances makes it an irritant causing severe loss of sleep and extreme annoyance. Often the sounds are heard more clearly indoors than outside. New Zealand Standard 6808 on the noise from wind turbines has been reviewed and a new draft standard produced for public comment. The draft differs little from the existing standard and closely follows that used in Britain and parts of Europe, even though there are clear indications that the criteria to be met do not fully conform with World Health Organization recommendations, and the methodology used is likely mathematically, scientifically and ethically wrong. The draft and similar standards across the world are clearly biased towards wind farm development for as little cost as possible, and it appears public health concerns are not being given enough attention.
The Melancthon I and Melancthon II wind energy facilities (200 megawatts), known as Melancthon EcoPower Center, began commercial operation in March 2006. Since that time, numerious complaints of turbine noise and other adverse effects were reported; homes were abandoned. The Ontario government took almost 1½ years to respond to a freedom of information act to finally release this document, a draft abatement plan to address the noise. The document was never released to the public and the plan was never implemented. This document exposes that the Ontario Provincial government was well aware of the adverse effects created by the turbines years ago but chose to let people suffer.
This peer-reviewed report written by the Acoustics Group in Australia evaluates the noise impact assessment for the Collector wind farm proposed to be built in New South Wales. The project will have up to 68 turbines but the turbine make and model is still undetermined. Three turbine makes and models were considered: Suzlon S88-2.1MW, V3; REpower 3.4M 104; Siemens SWT-2.3-101. The introduction and conclusion of the report is shown below. The full report, with appendices, can be accessed by clicking on the links at the bottom of this page.
Department of Environmental Medicine, Goteborg University, P.O. Box 414, SE-405 30 Goteborg, Sweden
(Received 14 November 2003; revised 1 September 2004; accepted 18 September 2004)
This report by Frits van den Berg appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of Echoes, the newsletter of the Acoustical Society of America.