Resource Documents: U.K. (103 items)
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Author: Vanhellemont, Quinten; and Ruddick, Kevin
In the last decade, the number of offshore wind farms has increased rapidly. Offshore wind farms are typically constructed in near-shore, shallow waters. These waters can be highly productive or provide nursery grounds for fish. EU legislation requires assessment of the environmental impact of the wind farms. The effects on hard and soft substrate fauna, seabirds and marine mammals are most frequently considered. Here we present Landsat-8 imagery that reveals the impact of offshore wind farms on suspended sediments. Turbid wakes of individual turbines are observed that are aligned with tidal currents. They are 30–150 m wide, and several km in length. The environmental impact of these wakes and the source of the suspended material are still unclear, but the wake size warrants further study. The underwater light field will be affected by increased suspended sediments and the turbid wakes could significantly impact sediment transport and downstream sedimentation. The question of whether such features can be detected by other remote sensors is addressed by a theoretical analysis of the signal:noise specification for the Operational Land Imager (OLI), the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM +), the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR/3), the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI), the Flexible Combined Imager (FCI) and the Multispectral Instrument (MSI) and by a demonstration of the impact of processing OLI data for different spatial resolutions.
Quinten Vanhellemont and Kevin Ruddick
Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences (RBINS), Operational Directorate Natural Environment, Brussels, Belgium
Remote Sensing of Environment Volume 145, 5 April 2014, Pages 105–115
Download original document: “Turbid wakes associated with offshore wind turbines observed with Landsat 8”
Author: WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff
This review was commissioned by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) in spring 2015 and finalised before DECC became part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in July 2016.
The research has reviewed the evidence on the response to amplitude modulation (AM) in relation to wind turbines. It was undertaken by a research team lead by WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff, who are responsible for the overall editorial content of the report, and supported by three independent external reviewers.
The review considered the robustness of relevant dose-response relationships and how, in a policy context, the level(s) of AM in a sample of noise data should be interpreted. In particular, it considered at what point AM causes a significant adverse impact and has recommended how excessive AM from wind turbines might be controlled through the use of an appropriate planning condition.
The final report addresses comments raised by three peer reviewers, appointed by DECC. The reviewers, from Denmark and the Netherlands, are experts in noise and health.
While this research does not represent planning guidance, BEIS encourages developers and planning authorities in England to consider this research when determining if an AM condition would be appropriate.
The contractor worked closely with the Institute of Acoustics’ AM working group, who in August 2016 recommended a preferred metric and methodology for quantifying and assessing the level of AM in a sample of wind turbine noise data [click here for review from the Independent Noise Working Group].
Author: Independent Noise Working Group
Initial Findings from the INWG Research
- Excessive Amplitude Modulation (EAM) is a Significant Factor. Noise complaints from wind farms are primarily related to a phenomenon called Amplitude Modulation (AM). This is commonly described as a ‘whoomp’, ‘swish’ or ‘beating’ type noise. It is the character of the noise that tends to make AM wind farm noise most intrusive. A recent Scottish study found that at 1-2km from the wind farm, 72% of those suffering audible noise strongly disliked the noise. When it becomes intrusive to people we call it EAM, or Excessive Amplitude Modulation. These noise components are not covered by the ETSU guidelines and we know of only one wind farm planning decision in the UK where a planning condition has been imposed for AM noise (Den Brook, Devon).
- There Have Been Decades of Deception. The wind industry has consistently denied the existence of EAM. Our research shows show that EAM is a frequent occurrence potentially affecting all industrial wind turbines, often for long periods of time and most frequently during the night time. A 2014 survey of Local Planning Authorities (LPAs), completed by Chris Heaton-Harris MP (Conservative, Daventry) and analysed by the INWG, shows that not only are incidents of EAM more frequent than the wind industry hitherto has claimed, the progress in resolving them is inconclusive and there are inconsistent approaches to dealing with it across the country. LPAs in the survey call for guidance on measuring and testing for EAM as well as nationally agreed standards that are consistently applied and provide effective mitigations for it. There is also anecdotal evidence of a ‘silent majority’ who suffer in silence without knowing how to complain, not wanting to get ‘involved’ or because of a fear of adverse implications; if, for example, they had to disclose any complaint should they wish to sell their house.
- Existing Legal Remedies are Found Wanting. We have found that the remedies available for wind farm neighbours affected by turbine noise are not fit for purpose. Statutory Nuisance has been actively advocated by the wind industry and supported by Planning Inspectors. Evidence however suggests that an Abatement Notice is not an effective control to protect nearby residents from EAM. Others such as private nuisance and similar legal actions have been considered but these place too much risk and burden on residents for a problem not of their making with likely long term adverse financial implications. In addition, there has been a recent trend of secondary operators forming individual shell companies for each wind farm. The impact of this was highlighted in July 2015 when David Davis MP (Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden) introduced a Bill in Parliament with the purpose of requiring wind farm developers to obtain public liability insurance for any nuisance that they may cause to nearby residents. In particular this is aimed at noise nuisance. One of his constituents had a problem with noise from a local wind farm but had found it impossible to sue because the wind farm operator was purely a shell company with very limited assets.
- Wind Turbine Noise Adversely Affects Sleep and Health. It is abundantly clear from the evidence examined by a world renowned expert in sleep medicine working with the INWG that wind turbine noise adversely affects sleep and health at the setback distances and noise levels permitted by ETSU. There is no reliable evidence that wind turbines are safe at these distances and noise levels, not a single study. In contrast there is an increasing volume of studies and evidence outlined to the contrary. There is particular concern for the health of children exposed to excessive wind turbine noise. The inadequate consideration of EAM is a major factor in the failure of ETSU to protect the human population. The denial of this by the wind industry is reminiscent of other health issues in the past. For example, the tobacco industry and the adverse effects of cigarette smoking.
- ETSU is Not Fit for Purpose. We show irrefutable evidence to discredit wind industry and government claims that ETSU provides a robust noise assessment methodology. This conclusion is supported by the recent Northern Ireland Assembly report, January 2015, into wind energy where it recommends, “Review the use of the ETSU-97 guidelines on an urgent basis with a view to adopting more modern and robust guidance for measurement of wind turbine noise, with particular reference to current guidelines from the World Health Organisation”.
- We Need an Effective Planning Condition for AM. The wind industry claims that an AM planning condition is not necessary and that the legal remedy of Statutory Nuisance provides adequate protection are thoroughly discredited by the evidence we have published. Without an AM planning condition there is no effective remedy for wind farm neighbours against excess noise. The relevance of EAM in causing noise complaints has driven the wind industry to ensure that an AM planning condition is not applied as standard planning practice. The application of an AM planning condition to the Den Brook (Devon) wind farm planning consent during 2009 presented a serious risk to the wind industry of a similar planning condition becoming the standard for future wind farm consents. The wind farm developer for the Den Brook wind farm has gone to enormous effort, at enormous expense, over an 8 year period to ensure first that an AM planning condition is not applied, then to have the applied planning condition removed, and finally to have it sufficiently weakened presumably to ensure it prioritises operation of the wind farm rather than provide the intended protection against EAM.
- There is a Lack of True Independence. The wind industry strategy of obfuscation capitalising on the trusted position of the Institute of Acoustics (IoA) as a scientific institution is discussed in our research findings. We find that the IoA through its wind turbine Noise Working Group, and latterly its specialist subgroup the AM Working Group devoted to the study of excess amplitude modulation, have consistently operated for the benefit of the onshore wind industry in the UK and to the detriment of local communities hosting wind turbines. This is also arguably against both the IoA Code of Ethics and that of the Engineering Council, its governing body. The effect has been to both obfuscate and hide problems related to wind turbine noise assessment from government and from the Planning Inspectorate.
INWG Recommendations to National Government
- Replace ETSU. Replace the use of ETSU, as recommended by the Northern Ireland Assembly report January 2015, with a procedure based on the principles of BS4142: 2014. This will bring wind turbine noise assessment into line with other industrial noise controls. New guidance of this type should be formulated in a Code of Practice that sets out a BS4142: 2014 type methodology that reflects noise character and relates impact to the actual background noise level and not an artificial average.
- Introduce an Effective AM Planning Condition. Based on the experience at Cotton Farm wind farm in Cambridgeshire, where there has been long term professional and independent noise monitoring, we recommend an effective AM planning condition should be part of every wind turbine planning approval unless there is clear evidence it is not needed. For assessing and controlling wind turbine noise AM, it is recommended that:
- Where wind turbine noise level and character require simultaneous assessment then BS4142:2014 should be used. The rated wind farm noise level should not exceed +10dB above the background noise level.
- Where only wind turbine noise AM requires assessment then a Den Brook type planning condition should be used.
- Continuous Noise Monitoring. Continuous noise monitoring of wind turbines should become a standard planning condition for all wind turbine planning approvals as recommended in the Northern Ireland Assembly report, January 2015. This should be funded by the wind turbine operator but controlled by the Local planning Authority (LPA) with the noise data made openly available to ensure transparency. The Cotton Farm community noise monitor describes an example of how this can be achieved. See: http://www.masenv.co.uk/~remote_data/
- Further Research into the Impact of Low Frequency Noise. There is a need to commission independent research to measure and determine the impact of low-frequency noise on those residents living in close proximity to individual turbines and wind farms as recommended in the Northern Ireland Assembly report, January 2015.
- Issues of Ethics, Conflict of Interest & Independence. The government should deal decisively with the ethical issues surrounding the Institute of Acoustics (IoA) wind turbine noise working groups. Government departments should disassociate themselves from the IoA until conflict of interest and ethics issues are resolved and full transparency is restored.
Download reports and publications:
The Fundamentals of Amplitude Modulation (AM) of Wind Turbine Noise
Review of Reference Literature
AM Evidence Review
Study of Noise and AM Complaints Received by Local Planning Authorities in England
Excessive AM, Wind Turbine Noise, Sleep and Health
Den Brook Planning Conditions
Draft AM Planning Condition, part 1
Draft AM Planning Condition, part 2
Legal Issues Relating to Shell Companies
Control of AM Noise Using Statutory Nuisance
Informative: Wind Turbine Noise AM and Its Control
Test of Institute of Acoustics AM Working Group Methodologies [not yet published]
Review of Institute of Acoustics Noise Working Groups
Cotton Farm Monitor Experience
Terms of Reference
Presentation to DECC Minister of State by Richard Cox
Presentation to DECC Minister of State by Sarah Large
Presentation to Institute of Acoustics by Richard Cox
Author: Ward, Lyndsey
The sun always seemed to shine in Giggly Glen and the people were always smiling.
It was a very happy to place to live.
But then something happened that made the people very sad.
This is the tale of Tiny the Turbine who lived in Giggly Glen, on a pretty little farm that was rented by Mr Barley from the rich landowner, Sir Snatchit.
Tiny really was tiny. No-one could see or hear him. He had sat on the roof of the cowshed for many years and was completely hidden by the big trees of Giggly Glen Forest. Hardly anyone knew he was there.
Mr Barley used him in the winter to charge a little battery to light his cowshed where he kept his cows in the cold dark months. Tiny could just about do that but nothing else and spent the summer sunbathing and watching the wildlife all
around him. When the wind didn’t blow Mr Barley had to use a torch to tend his animals.
Mr Barley had a son, Ally. He was Tiny’s friend and would often go and talk to Tiny. Ally didn’t have many friends but Tiny was always there to listen when he had problems at school.
One day a wind developer called Mr McWeasel went to see Sir Snatchit.
He said because Sir Snatchit already had Tiny on his land he could get many more turbines, much much bigger ones. It would be called an extension and the man from the Government would say yes.
Mr McWeasel said if he could have permission to build the other turbines he could make Tiny much bigger and make him work harder and bring in lots more money from the Government. They would both be very rich.
He also said he would give the villagers a very small bit of that money the turbines made. It was the same money that the villagers had to pay to the Government in the first place. So really he was just giving the people their own money back. Mr McWeasel didn’t tell anyone that though.
Mr Barley didn’t want Tiny made bigger. Tiny did all he needed and didn’t bother anyone. The big turbines could be a problem for him and his family as they would be very close to their little house.
But because Sir Snatchit owned all the land and said yes to Mr McWeasel, the building of the turbines began.
Tiny was shocked when he saw Mr McWeasel’s men at work. They ripped up all the ground with big diggers, they cut down the trees in Giggly Glen Forest and poured big lorry loads of concrete all over the land. The wild animals ran away and the river turned a dirty brown colour and then … the birds stopped singing, the sun stopped shining and dark clouds spread across the sky.
Mr Barley went to see what was happening and sadly shook his head when he saw the mess and destruction made by Mr McWeasel’s men.
There were ten huge turbines. Each one taller than ten big trees standing on top of one another.
The biggest turbine was Trasher – Tiny’s very distant cousin – so named because he destroyed everything around him wherever he went.
Trasher was a bully. He was the ringleader of the other turbines. They laughed and jeered at Tiny because he was so tiny and rarely worked even though he did all Mr Barley wanted.
Mr McWeasel went to see Tiny. “You are too small. You don’t earn any money. I will order some parts and make you bigger and you will work harder for me.”
But then something else happened that really upset Tiny. His friends the birds were being hit by the blades of the big turbines. He told Mr McWeasel that he didn’t want to get any bigger and if he made him then he would refuse to work. He would go on strike and his blades would never move. He would not harm the birds.
Mr McWeasel was furious and ordered Tiny off Sir Snatchit’s land. “No-one disobeys me,” he said. Tiny looked to the other turbines for help but they just all stood and laughed at him.
“Go away,” shouted Trasher. “There is no place for someone like you here. You are not even big enough to boil a kettle! We need to earn money for Sir Snatchit and Mr McWeasel and if the birds get in the way then that is their hard luck.”
So Tiny left and was found by Ally, sitting crying on one of the trees cut down by Mr McWeasel’s men.
He listened to Tiny’s sadness about the birds and having to leave his home on the cowshed roof, just like Tiny had listened to him so many times when he had been sad.
Then he told Tiny what was happening to his family because of the turbines. He told him how his mother and father couldn’t sleep because of all the noise from Trasher and his friends. His father had crashed his tractor into the hen house the other day when he was so tired and had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Ally said he couldn’t sleep either and sometimes felt scared when he heard the thumping and swooshing of the turbine blades in the night.
It felt like the whole house was vibrating. The only time they got any peace from the awful noise was when the wind wasn’t blowing and the monster turbines weren’t turning. His mother often complained of headaches and never smiled any more. The chickens had stopped laying their eggs since the turbines came. Ross the sheep dog had starting hiding in the barn and wouldn’t come out and work the sheep.
Tiny jumped up! “This is not right,” he said. “We must stop it. Let’s go to the village and tell the people what is happening here.”
The village hall was crowded. People were shouting and angry.
“I can’t sleep and my visitors can’t sleep and now they won’t come back. How can I earn any money?” said Mrs Bumbly from Giggly Glen’s Guest House.
“My children can’t do their homework with that terrible din going on,” said Mr MacMillan from the bakery.
“The pupils can’t concentrate on their lessons any more with the never-ending noise,” said the Headmaster of the local school, Mr Knowall.
“My wife feels poorly all the time now. She says she has buzzing in her ears that never stops – not even when the turbines do,” said PC Doyle.
“I saw some bits break off one of the turbines – they flew a long way. They nearly hit me,” said Stan the Handyman.
“What if they caught fire?” asked the Fire Chief. “We couldn’t put a fire out so high up in the air.”
“My cat has left home and I have terrible headaches and feel ill every day,” said Mrs Miggins from the Post Office.
“I would sell my home and move away from Giggly Glen and those horrible turbines, but nobody will buy my house,” said Mr Donald.
“I saw the helicopter from the coastguard fly too close to the turbines when it was misty. There could be a nasty accident,” said Mr Foggarty.
“Enough is enough,” shouted Mr Barley. “We cannot live like this!
Mr McWeasel and his monsters cannot be allowed to ruin our lives and make us sick. Let’s send them away from Giggly Glen.”
“But how?” cried the villagers. “They are so big and frightening and dangerous for us to be near.”
Tiny turned to Ally and said, “Take the villagers to the turbines and I will meet you there.”
And so all the villagers, led by the now brave and confident Ally, marched up to Sir Snatchit’s land where they were met by Mr McWeasel standing in front of Trasher and the other turbines.
“We are here to tell you to go. You are making us ill. Living in Giggly Glen has become a nightmare since you arrived,” Ally shouted up to them.
“So what?” snarled Mr McWeasel. “What are you going to do about it, little boy?”
Trasher and the other turbines sneered and laughed at him.
The villagers were scared but then Ally pointed to the lane and yelled, “Look who’s with Tiny.”
There was Tiny sitting on top of his dear old friend Tuska the retired tank, chugging towards the turbines.
That was enough for Mr McWeasel. “Pack up lads we are off; we hated Giggly Glen anyway; not enough wind and not enough money.”
With that, Mr McWeasel, Trasher and his terrible friends were seen running off into the distance and as they did the clouds parted, the sun shone, the birds started singing and the deer and the rabbits came back. The hens started clucking as they looked for somewhere to lay their eggs and Ross the sheep dog came out from the barn wagging his tail.
Tiny looked around, smiled at all the happy villagers, winked at his little friend Ally and went back to the cowshed roof where he settled down for an afternoon snooze in the sunshine.
Peace and happiness had returned to Giggly Glen.
Written by Lyndsey Ward, with Cartoons by Josh
Download original document: “Tiny the Turbine”
Tiny the Turbine is available as a PDF to download and you may print for personal use or email as you wish and, if you like what we have done or wish to use it in your own campaigning, please make a donation on Josh’s website www.cartoonsbyjosh.co.uk/tiny-the-turbine to help fund this and possible future projects. All contributions, large or small, are gratefully accepted and appreciated.
See also: Subsidy Sam the Turbine