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Wind farm noise limits urged

Ontario's noise regulations for wind turbines are among the weakest in the world and current distance setbacks from homes should be tripled or more, a public meeting was told Monday. About 200 people crowded the Essex Civic Centre to hear experts from across the province debate the health effects of wind turbines. Using teleconferencing, some spoke from as far away as the United Kingdom. The meeting got a little rowdy at times with some Town of Essex councillors trading barbs with taunting spectators.

Ontario's noise regulations for wind turbines are among the weakest in the world and current distance setbacks from homes should be tripled or more, a public meeting was told Monday.

About 200 people crowded the Essex Civic Centre to hear experts from across the province debate the health effects of wind turbines. Using teleconferencing, some spoke from as far away as the United Kingdom.

The meeting got a little rowdy at times with some Town of Essex councillors trading barbs with taunting spectators.

One heckler told Coun. Paul Innes that he wasn't an expert on wind turbines. "More than you, big mouth," he retorted.

"You don't have to lose it," admonished Mayor Ron McDermott. Innes apologized.

The Town of Essex is considering a moratorium on wind turbines, but hasn't made a decision.

John Harrison, a retired Queens University physicist, said Ontario Ministry of Environment guidelines now permit 40-decibel sound levels from wind turbines at homes 400 metres away.

"This is quite inadequate," said Harrison. He said permissible sound levels outside nearby homes should be reduced to 35 decibels. People need sound levels of 25 decibels or less in their bedrooms... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Ontario's noise regulations for wind turbines are among the weakest in the world and current distance setbacks from homes should be tripled or more, a public meeting was told Monday.

About 200 people crowded the Essex Civic Centre to hear experts from across the province debate the health effects of wind turbines. Using teleconferencing, some spoke from as far away as the United Kingdom.

The meeting got a little rowdy at times with some Town of Essex councillors trading barbs with taunting spectators.

One heckler told Coun. Paul Innes that he wasn't an expert on wind turbines. "More than you, big mouth," he retorted.

"You don't have to lose it," admonished Mayor Ron McDermott. Innes apologized.

The Town of Essex is considering a moratorium on wind turbines, but hasn't made a decision.

John Harrison, a retired Queens University physicist, said Ontario Ministry of Environment guidelines now permit 40-decibel sound levels from wind turbines at homes 400 metres away.

"This is quite inadequate," said Harrison. He said permissible sound levels outside nearby homes should be reduced to 35 decibels. People need sound levels of 25 decibels or less in their bedrooms to sleep, he said.

Ontario has population densities far lower than in Europe, so it should be possible to site wind turbines farther from homes, Harrison said. "Surely we don't need to put these turbines within 400 metres of peoples' homes."

The characteristic "swoosh, swoosh, swoosh" pattern of turbine noise is more annoying than steady noise, Harrison said. That should also result in more conservative noise limits, but Ontario hasn't recognized that effect, Harrison said.

Brian Howe, a consulting engineer in acoustics for 20 years for HGC Engineering, said Ontario's guidelines for turbine noise are adequate and consistent with Health Canada studies.

Most people near wind turbines aren't complaining about the noise, Howe said. In some cases, noise complaints could reflect higher anxiety levels from people who had unrealistic expectations of hearing virtually no sound, he said.

The town asked the province to send its experts on noise and health effects of turbines to Monday's meeting but didn't get a response.

Harrison recommended a setback of 1.4 kilometres where three turbines or more might have combined sound impacts on nearby homes. He said health authorities around the world have recommended setbacks ranging from 1.4 kilometres to 2.4 kilometres.

The large turbines planned for Essex County are typically generating 105 decibels of sound right at the turbine blades, Harrison said. Heavy street traffic has noise levels of about 90 decibels.

Essex County municipalities have adopted home setbacks of 300 metres to 600 metres in their official plans. The Town of Essex has a 450-metre setback from a turbine to a home that is not hosting the turbine.


Source: http://www2.canada.com/wind...

FEB 24 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19235-wind-farm-noise-limits-urged
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