This incriminating memorandum on wind turbine noise was prepared by the Ontario provincial government and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The memo was released by Wind Concerns Ontario's WINDYLEAKS campaign. The document, written in April 2010, shows that the McGuinty Liberals were well aware that noise from industrial wind turbines operating even in compliance with Ontario's wind turbine regulations were causing adverse effects on communities.
The author of the document, Cameron Hall, Ontario's Senior Environmental Officer with the Ministry of Environment in the Guelph District Office, exposes serious deficiencies in Ontario's legislated noise limits for wind turbines at 40 decibels. Hall describes the noise from wind turbines as 'sound contamination discharged into the natural environment...'. Hall indicates that there are many characteristics of wind turbine noise not addressed in the regulations and that these characteristics must be factored into the equation when assessing tolerable turbine noise levels in quiet rural settings especially at night.
Hall states that wind turbines create an audible 'swish' or cyclical sound as the gigantic turbine blades pass the towers at speeds of over 200km/hr. Any other industrial noise with this quality receives a 5 decibel penalty. Currently the Minister of Environment says 40 decibels is the acceptable level for wind turbine noise. However with just that 5-decibel penalty the noise limit should be lowered to 35decibels.
Special thanks to Beth Harrington and Wind Concerns Ontario for their efforts in obtaining this critical memo. The Freedom of Information Act request was submitted to the Ontario government over one year ago in August 2010. The document was not released until four days after the final submissions were concluded at the Environmental Review Challange in Chathan Kent of the Suncor project.