Northumberland County Council
The Waterfalls, Birtley Wark Hexham
Proposed Holiday Centre and Equestrian Development
Application Reference: 20090663
In relation to the comments made by Mr. Spencer, on behalf of the applicant, we would reiterate our view made in our previous correspondence that a proper noise assessment is required before this proposal can be approved. We have some concerns that the 23 dB attenuation figure suggested by the Council's Public Protection Officer would not be sufficient for this development, given that the proposed holiday accommodation would not be able to achieve the levels of sound insulation that might reasonably be expected of a permanent dwelling house.
The applicant's noise figures are derived from Wind Prospect's own noise assessment of the Green Rigg turbines. As such the noise levels were assessed at Waterfalls Farm, which is significantly further away from the Green Rigg wind farm than the proposed development. As a result, the noise levels at the proposed development are likely to be higher than the predicted levels and will require a much larger attenuation than the proposed level.
Moreover, this is a proposed holiday centre, where patrons would reasonably expect to sit outside to enjoy the relative peace and quiet of the countryside. The acoustical performance of the accommodation has no effect on the external noise levels. Noise from the permitted wind energy development will be very likely to provoke complaints, and this will place both the Environmental Health department and the wind farm operator in an impossible position: a complaint about noise could be found to be justified, and construed as a noise nuisance, even though the wind farm was operating lawfully within the constraints of its planned conditions.
Without a proper noise assessment, it is impossible to clarify exactly what attenuation would be sufficient, and no judgment can be made on the acceptability or otherwise of external noise levels. We would, therefore, urge the Council to request a proper assessment from the applicant.
Editor's note: The links below access the original letter submitted to the Planning Department and a map showing a 750 meter zone (red) around both the Waterfalls farmhouse (clearly marked) and the proposed site of the Holiday Centre. The red zone also emcompasses five of the 18 turbines.