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Can road traffic mask sound from wind turbines? Response to wind turbine sound at different levels of road traffic sound

Abstract:
Wind turbines are favoured in the switch-over to renewable energy. Suitable sites for further developments could be difficult to find as the sound emitted from the rotor blades calls for a sufficient distance to residents to avoid negative effects. The aim of this study was to explore if road traffic sound could mask wind turbine sound or, in contrast, increases annoyance due to wind turbine noise. Annoyance of road traffic and wind turbine noise was measured in the WINDFARMperception survey in the Netherlands in 2007 (n=725) and related to calculated levels of sound. The presence of road traffic sound did not in general decrease annoyance with wind turbine noise, except when levels of wind turbine sound were moderate (35–40 dB(A) Lden) and road traffic sound level exceeded that level with at least 20 dB(A). Annoyance with both noises was intercorrelated but this correlation was probably due to the influence of individual factors. Furthermore, visibility and attitude towards wind turbines were significantly related to noise annoyance of modern wind turbines. The results can be used for the selection of suitable sites, possibly favouring already noise exposed areas if wind turbine sound levels are sufficiently low.

Energy Policy 38 (2010) 2520–2527

Eja Pedersen
Halmstad University and University of Gothenburg, Halmstad, Sweden
Frits van den Berg
GGD Amsterdam (formerly of University of Groningen), The Netherlands
Roel Bakker, Jelte Bouma
University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

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