Resource Documents: Impacts (113 items)
Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.
Author: Ambrose, Stephen
Acousticians have known for decades how to predict the community reaction to a new noise source. Wind turbine consultants have chosen not to predict the community reaction as they have previously done for other community noise sources. If they had, there would be far fewer wind turbine sites with neighbors complaining loudly about excessive noise and adverse health impacts.
In 1974, the USEPA published a methodology that can predict the community reaction to a new noise. A simple chart can be used that shows the community reactions (y-axis) versus noise level (x-axis). This chart was developed from 55 community noise case studies (black squares). The baseline noise levels include adjustments for the existing ambient, prior noise experience, and sound character. The predicted wind turbine noise level is plotted on the ‘x-axis’ and the predicted community reaction is determined by the highest reaction, indicated by the black squares. Here are some examples: 32 dBA no reaction and sporadic complaints, 37 dBA widespread complaints, 45 dBA strong appeals to stop noise and 54 dBA vigorous community action, the highest.
The International Standards Organization (ISO) determined that 25 dBA represents a rural nighttime environment. The World Health Organization (WHO) found that noise below 30 dBA had no observed effect level (NOEL) and 40 dBA represented the lowest observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) for noise sources that excluded wind turbines. Wind turbines produce strong low frequency energy that may reduce the WHO cautionary levels by 5 dB, thereby showing closer agreement with the 33 dBA recommendations.
Pederson & Waye (2004) research found that when wind turbine noise levels reached 35 dBA, 6% of the population was highly annoyed, and this rapidly increased to 25% at 40 dBA. Independent researchers recommend that noise levels should not exceed 33 dBA, which is near the upper limit for sporadic complaints, or a maximum increase of 5 dB, whichever is more stringent.
People react in a predictable manner to changes in sound level and frequency content caused by a new noise source. Wind turbines are the cause for numerous complaints about excessive noise and adverse health effects. These complaints will continue to be a public health hazard as long as modern acoustic instruments are used without a person listening to identify the sound sources or by manipulating computer prediction models to provide acceptable results. Wind turbine predictions are based on meeting a specific noise level. Regulatory boards and agencies are not assessing noise levels consistent with how people hear.
The wind turbines at Falmouth Massachusetts clearly show why there are so many neighbors complaining. An effective way to evaluate a sound source is by comparing the ON operation to OFF. The graph below shows wind turbine ON fluctuates from 35 to 46 dBA and when OFF decreases to 27 dBA.
Using the USEPA (1974) community noise assessment methodology adjusted for a quiet area, the predicted public reaction for wind turbine noise indicates widespread complaints and threats of legal action, as shown by the shaded box. Massachusetts DEP noise regulation limits the wind turbine ON maximum levels to no more than 10 dB above the ambient background (L90, exceeded 90% of the time) when OFF. The sound level increase is 19 dB for wind turbine operation.
Sleep interruption and disturbance indicates the real potential for causing significant public harm from nearby wind turbines. A peer-reviewed research paper has investigated residents living near GE 1.5 MW wind turbines. Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, Jeffrey Aramini and Christopher Hanning published “Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health” in the peer-reviewed bi-monthly journal Noise & Health, September-October 2012 [LINK].
The study focused on sleep quality as defined by the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), daytime sleepiness by Epworth Sleepiness Score (ESS), and general health according to SF36 ver2; Mental Component Score (MSC) and Physical Component Score (PSC). Residents received questionnaires based on participant-inclusion criteria for individuals living within 1.5-km (4921-ft) of the nearest 1.5 MW wind turbine(s). Baseline random samples were collected from residents living 3 to 7 km (9840 to 22,965- ft) away. The study conclusion has a strong recommendation for a separation distance of 1.4-km (4593- ft) away from a 1.5 MW wind turbine. This would be especially true for wind turbines located in quiet environments.
An aerial photo shows the locations of Falmouth’s Wind 1, 2 and NOTUS turbines as red pins. The above sleep study-recommended separation distance of nearly 4600 ft is shown as red circles. The Falmouth Board of Health’s health study (June 11, 2012) confirms the sleep study’s conclusion for complaints inside the red circles with yellow pins inside.
Wind turbine developers promote wind energy for financial benefit for communities when they are built on municipally-owned properties as in Falmouth, Kingston, Scituate and Fairhaven. In return, towns relax their bylaw restrictions to permit loud industrial-type noise sources on municipal land often near quiet residential areas. Town planners approve wind turbine development without performing proper reviews as required in the bylaws. Towns understand they can build a municipal project in any land use zone. However, these projects still need to comply with the zoning bylaws.
Zoning bylaws are enacted to control community development to minimize conflicts between abutting land uses. Industrial and commercial development often produces more traffic, noise, smoke, odors, etc. than residential use. Industrial and commercial facilities are limited to districts with large lots and setback distances. Residential district restrictions protect neighbors’ expectations for peace, tranquility and protection of public health and wellbeing.
Bylaws are implemented to provide guidance to town officials and regulatory boards. Public officials are required to perform their duties in a consistent manner. Boards review new developments for appropriate economics, engineering and environmental impacts. Decisions can become emotional when there are disputed considerations for public good versus public harm. Boards are required to enforce their bylaws and should not alter rules, grant waivers or create amendments to benefit a project under consideration.
Too many towns have adopted changes to encourage wind turbine development, changes which were later proven detrimental to public health, safety and wellbeing. Large wind turbines produce loud noise levels that travel thousands of feet and could not comply with existing town bylaw noise limits.
Author: Shelburne Falls, Mass., Wind Advisory Committee
Wind Turbine Systems for Premises Use: “Any system of turbines, whether located on the building or the ground, designed primarily to generate heat or electricity for the principal home or business located on the lot; such systems may generate a limited amount of excess electricity for resale to an electrical utility provided the system is designed principally to supply the electrical needs of the home or business on the lot.”
As written, the bylaw requires more detailed and specific interpretations for the Special Permitting Authority (now the Zoning Board of Appeals) to review, accept, or reject specific proposals for premises-use only wind turbine systems.
The WAC has been tasked by the PB to develop factual and educational material upon which it can draw when developing a more detailed premises use only bylaw. This Report summarizes that factual and educational material. When useful, the Report cites and paraphrases scientific research articles, research reported on web sites, investigations made by committee members and anecdotal evidence. Where useful, the Report makes recommendations to the PB, based upon the information that it has gathered and analyzed.
Date: October 7, 2013
Table of Contents
Part I. Operational and Technical Matters
Section 1: Technology – what devices are for sale now, what defines wind turbine?
Section 2: Small wind definition and efficiency studies
Section 3: Setbacks & height of wind turbines.
Section 4: Anticipated size of premises-use wind turbine systems
Part II. Impacts
Section 5: Impacts to climate, energy security, and economics
Section 6: Impacts to health (noise – infrasound, sound; flicker)
Section 7: Impacts to ecology (birds, bats)
Section 8: Visual nuisance impacts
Section 9: Safety considerations (ice, falling, blade throw, lightning etc.)
Part III. Legal considerations
Section 10: Robust ordinances – what are the elements of a good ordinance or bylaw?
Section 11: Complaint forms, how to manage subsequent problems if they arise
Section 12: Litigation that has arisen with premises-use turbines. Outcomes?
Section 13: Recommendations
Height Limit: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that any premises-use turbine does not exceed 120 feet from grade to the tip of the blade.
Capacity: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the output of nameplate capacity be limited to 10 KW for residential and 30 KW for agricultural/business use.
Excess: In order to comply with the intent that the output be primarily for premises use, the Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the rated name capacity be restricted to the smallest unit available to cover the intended premises use.
Noise: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the noise limit of any wind turbine shall not exceed 5 dB above ambient at any lot line and the nearest inhabited residence. The ambient level shall be established by the applicant prior to the submission of an application by a protocol to be determined.
Flicker: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the By-law shall not allow any flicker affecting occupied buildings.
Aesthetics: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends to the Planning Board that they take visual impacts and property values considerations into account in the permitting process.
Setback: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the setback be double the height of the blade tip from any roadway, structure, or property line.
Certification: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that any premises-use wind turbine must be an approved turbine on the list certified by the Small Wind Certification Council or other certification agency as approved by the State of Massachusetts.
One turbine per premise: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that only one turbine be allowed per premises.
Response to NHMRC Systematic Review and Draft Information Statement concerning wind turbines and adverse health effects
Author: Waubra Foundation
The NHMRC have not invited public comments on the Systematic Literature Review, however as this document forms the basis for the NHMRC Draft Information Statement, the Foundation has looked at the Systematic Literature Review document closely and found serious cause for concern. Those concerns are outlined below.
We note that the document has been peer reviewed, however no details have been provided about the identity or qualifications of the Canadian Peer Reviewers, in particular their expertise and knowledge in the field of environmental noise, clinical medicine, acoustics, or research in related areas, and possible conflicts of interest, both disclosed and undisclosed.
That may explain why these issues were not detected earlier. …
What the 2014 NHMRC Systematic Review has clearly done is acknowledge that sleep disturbance, annoyance and reduced quality of life are confirmed by the data which was allowed to be included in the systematic literature review.
The Review has also highlighted the lack of objective evidence containing both full spectrum acoustic measurements and concurrent objective physiological data including sleep (EEG), blood pressure, heart rate and biochemical markers of physiological stress, such as cortisol conducted inside the homes of people reporting the new symptoms. No such studies have ever been conducted.
This sort of research in the homes of people reporting the new sleep and health problems, as well as in the laboratory was recommended “as a priority” in June 2011 by the Senate Inquiry chaired by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert. The research is long overdue, and it is pleasing that the current Federal Coalition government have committed to ensure it is conducted.
However, with respect to the Systematic Literature Review document, because of the serious issues raised above about the decisions made by NHMRC Literature Review Panel Members and the Systematic Literature Team members to
- exclude relevant studies,
- misclassify relevant studies, resulting in their exclusion,
- fail to properly disclose conflicts of interest with Resonate Acoustics, and
- fail to ensure balance and independence from the wind industry commercial interests in the acoustic data and opinion provided,
there are unfortunate consequences for the integrity of the document, and for the professional reputations of all those involved in its production.
Any Draft Information Statement prepared by the NHMRC on the basis of this dangerously incomplete Systematic Literature Review will be similarly dangerously incomplete and misleading, and governments who rely on it will not be getting the most accurate and up to date independent scientific advice they need to properly protect the health of their citizens, which they have an obligation to do.
The consequences for the residents who are suffering so greatly resulting from systemic regulatory failure of wind turbine and other environmental noise pollution are predictable serious adverse health effects, chronic exhaustion, and home abandonment.
The current situation is a national and international disgrace, and it brings considerable shame on those health and acoustics professionals who are involved in hiding the truth from government, from colleagues, and from fellow citizens.
“New” studies since 28 September 2012
- Mechanistic evidence (evidence of mechanisms)
- Direct causation evidence – wind turbine noise
- Parallel evidence (other noise sources)
CEO, Waubra Foundation
11th April, 2014
Download original document: “Formal response of the Waubra Foundation to the NHMRC commissioned Systematic Review and the NHMRC’s Draft Information Statement concerning wind turbines and adverse health effects”
Comparison of wind turbine acoustic measurements and analysis, resident responses and wind farm power output during on-off testing at a South Australian wind farm
Author: Morris, Mary
Summary: In this report, noise diary complaints recorded by local residents were compared with EPA measured low frequency and audible noise inside a home near the Waterloo wind farm, on the same evening as a deliberate shutdown of the turbines. Sleep disturbance, excessive noise and annoyance complaints coincide with measured elevated levels of low frequency noise (LFN) and audible noise inside the home. It can be seen that when the wind farm was turned off and then on again, “C” weighted, Unweighted and LAeq(LF) levels fell and rose around 10dB. This suggests that the wind farm is making a significant LFN contribution to local environment. The change in “A”weighted levels as a result of the shutdown was not significant, suggesting that “A” weighted levels do not accurately reflect the impact of the turbines on the residents.
Location and population description
The Waterloo wind development commenced operating in October 2010 and comprises 37 Vestas V90 wind turbines in a 17 km line along a North South ridge line in the Mt Lofty Ranges of South Australia.
The Waterloo area is home to a mixed farming community in the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council area in the Mid North of South Australia. A significant proportion of the population are long term farming families involved with Primary Production and related support industries. Retirees, pensioners, working families, tree changers, lifestyle block owners and weekenders also make up the local community as they are attracted by the amenity provided by the rural setting, hills and ranges, native fauna, creeks and natural vegetation of the local environment. Regional Development Australia stated in August 2010 that the population of the local Council area of Clare was “rising as a result of interest from retirees and people seeking a different pace of life.” (1)
There are approximately 75 houses within 5 km of the turbines and approximately 230 houses within 10 km. The township zone of Waterloo is comprised of 19 habitable houses and is located approximately 3.2 km West of the turbines.
Nature of complaints/impacts
Three township houses and one farmhouse (4.5 km west of the turbines) have been vacated because of effects attributed by residents to the wind farm – particularly sleep disturbance and physiological symptoms (pers comm).
One habitable house with 11 turbines within 2 km has remained vacant for more than 2 years since the death of the elderly owner. (2)
The Waterloo wind development has been the subject of a large number of complaints from residents up to 10 km from the turbines. The majority of complaints relate to NOISE, VIBRATION, SLEEP DEPRIVATION and HEALTH EFFECTS. In all, 4 Homes have been abandoned and many residents have to regularly “get away” in order to get adequate sleep and recover. (2)(3)(4)
In April to June 2013, the South Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) conducted a 10 week study into wind farm noise at 6 homes near Waterloo wind farm. (5)(6)
The EPA study was instigated in response to ongoing noise, vibration, sleep disturbance and physiological symptom complaints, including home abandonments. Residents living up to 10 km away from the wind farm have complained about adverse impacts and cite the wind farm as the source of their disturbance. (2)(3)(4).
During the 10 week period, the EPA collected noise data at 6 sites between 1.3 and 8 km from the turbines. 28 households volunteered to keep noise diaries on forms supplied by the EPA, which the SA EPA then used to help them focus their analysis on specific events.
Only noise diary entries reporting audible noise and vibration were taken into consideration by the SA EPA as this was not intended to be a health study. (4)(5)
Residents’ reports of awakenings, poor sleep, symptoms and sensations have been disregarded by the EPA as indicators of noise emissions experienced by the residents.
As part of the study which commenced on 8 April 2013, the SA EPA conducted 6 shutdowns (on-off testing) on 1st and 30th May and 5th, 10th, 12th & 14th June to determine what contribution, if any, the wind farm was making to the local noise environment.
Turbines were turned off a for a period of around 50 minutes for each shutdown.
Acoustic measurements for before, during and after each shutdown are available in graphs found on the EPA’s website report. The majority of the EPA report of their Waterloo study is available as a pdf at the following link: http://www.epa.sa.gov.au/xstd_files/Noise/Report/Waterloo_wind_farm_report.pdf. (Note, at the time of writing, on this link, the shutdown dates are incorrect in the pdf – the last 4 shutdowns were in June, not May as listed in Table 1 of the pdf.)
Individual components of the EPA report, including weekly noise level graphs for each site and noise diary summaries are available as a series of separate webpages and can be downloaded at: http://www.epa.sa.gov.au/environmental_info/noise/wind_farms/waterloo_wind_farm_environmental_noise_study
Comparison of residents noise diary entry complaints with EPA acoustic analysis
The author of this comparison has been provided with 17 of the 28 diaries by residents and has been able to compare the residents perceptions with the EPA’s acoustic analysis.
Looking at diary entries for both audible and inaudible events reveal that there is a significant impact from the wind farm on the residents and that events described by the residents coincide with times when the EPA’s measurements show elevated levels of Low Frequency Noise.
This comparison paper focuses on Shutdown 1, INSIDE the home at the EPA West site. Graphs and tables sourced from the EPA’s Waterloo reports have been used as a basis for the following comparisons and comments. These include:
“Inside West Week 4 Graph”
“Audio record analysis for the West site: Tables 36 and 37” (event 31)
Event 31 in Tables 36 and 37 corresponds to the period of time before, during and after Shutdown 1 on 1st May 2013.
All Waterloo turbines were shut-down for a 50 minute period from 20:10 to 21:00 Central Australian Standard Time (CAST). Noise diary entries obtained from 2 study participants: the West site resident (W) and a neighbour (N), have also been compared with the EPA report. (extracts appear in the following)
At this time of the day, the West residents are home and watching tv in the lounge room. The EPA’s single microphone is in a spare bedroom with the door and window shut. The West residence is approximately 2.5 km from nearest WTG.
At the Neighbour home, coinciding with the shutdown, it is bedtime for the 3 small children and the parents are watching tv. N is approximately 4 km from the turbines.
NOISE EVENT 31 starts 18:00 1st May 2013 – same evening as on-off testing
- At 18:00 pm, W reports that loud noise coming from the turbines can be heard outside.
- At West, Resident (W) and Neighbor (N) report thumping, roaring, booming and N feeling it in the floor 18:00/18:30 SA time.
The SA EPA noise graph for Shutdown 1 INSIDE the WEST home (see Figure 1) shows that:
- When the turbines were switched off, the Unweighted, C-weighted and LAeq(LF) noise levels dropped approximately 10 dB.
- When the turbines resumed operation, these 3 noise levels rose to their pre-shutdown levels as wind conditions were similar to the pre-shutdown period.
- The change in the A-weighted level was not significant, confirming that A-weighted measurements may not be a good indicator of the sound energy levels which are disturbing the residents.
Comparison of noise diary entries with EPA Acoustic Analysis for evening of shutdown 1
- See figures 3 and 4 for residents’ diary entries.
- See figures 5 and 6 for EPA acoustic analysis.
At 21:35 SA time (22:05 on figure 2 wind farm performance graph),soon after turbines resume operation after the shutdown:
- W diary reports hearing rumbling noise over the noise of the tv.
- W diary reports being awake at 3.03 am and hard to go back to sleep as noise is continuing.
- N diary also reports ongoing booming, thumping heard over the noise of the tv and feeling it through the floor.
The EPA Record Analysis for this period shows:
- EPA measure LAeqdB(A) up to 41.8 dB(A) inside
- EPA measure LCeq dB(C) up to 66.6 dB(C) inside and 87.9 dB(C) outside
- EPA measure 50Hz peak inside (typical wind turbine frequency)
- EPA analysis inside DEFRA 10% (met the criteria for 10% of the time)
- EPA comment on listening to audio recordings “Inside – no noise heard”
EPA somehow concludes: no significant noise impact, wind farm is compliant, no review of the guidelines in warranted.
Shut down 1 at WEST showed that the EPA’s conclusion (that the wind farm does not create an adverse noise impact at this home) is not supported by their own data or by the residents diary entries.
“A” weighted values may not accurately reflect the impact of the turbines on the residents.
Operation of the wind farm contributed around 10dB of low frequency noise to the local environment.
Limiting compliance assessment to audible parameters does not satisfactorily address the significant impacts caused by LFN from wind turbines.
Consideration should be given to qualitative as well as quantitative assessment.
Acoustic analysis of INSIDE measurements, immediately before and after Shutdown 1, show values which exceed SA EPA noise guidelines.
The EPA could not hear wind farm noise (which was disturbing the residents) on their audio recordings, calling into question the merit of this methodology.
Noise limits recommended by DEFRA, the Danish authorities and Dr Norm Broner (60dB(C))
were exceeded on May 1st 2013.
(1) Regional Development Australia. Regional Road Map = Yorke and North August 2010
The author acknowledges the use of the SA EPA’s data in preparing this report.
M Morris April 2014