In 2006 the Government published a crucial report on wind turbine noise and its effects on nearby residents by Hayes McKenzie Partnership (HMP) . This study has been used to support the view that there is no reason to revise existing Government wind farm noise guidelines, nor that there are any health ramifications of turbine noise at neighbouring dwellings.
Mr Mike Hulme of the Den Brook Judicial Review Group, a group of local residents opposing a wind turbine development close to their houses in Devon, submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking to see all draft versions of this study.
The Government, that is the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), refused the request, claiming that it was not in the public interest for these to be released.
Mr Hulme appealed against this decision, and the appeal was upheld by the Information Commissioner (Case: FER0184885). Consequently the Government has been obliged to release earlier drafts of the HMP report.
The drafts reveal that the final published report silently removed earlier recommendations that:
1. the night time wind turbine noise limit should be reduced from 43dB to 38dB, and,
2. in the event that the turbine noise has a discernible beating character, the limit should be further reduced to 33dB.
The final published report can be accessed here.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) had sought to suppress the drafts, claiming that it was not in the public interest for these to be released. However, the Information Commissioner overruled DECC. The Commissioner's report says:
the Commissioner is conscious that climate change and the need to seek safe and viable alternatives to fossil fuels are major political issues. Therefore, the Commissioner believes that disclosure of this information could be used to feed into the debate with regard to what role wind farms should have in seeking to reduce the UK's carbon emissions and how that should be balanced with regard to the potential effect that wind farms could have on people's health.
The supporting documents can be downloaded by clicking on the these links:
- Commentary of how the noise recommendations evolved (64 kb)
- Information Commissioner's findings upon releasing the draft reports (119.95 kb)
- HMP released draft #1 (195.25 kb)
- HMP released draft #2 (267.3 kb)
- HMP released draft #3 (300.22 kb)
- 2006 emails between Hayes and civil servant discussing document release (1.32 Mb)