Resource Documents: Noise (675 items)
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Author: Richards, Melinda
Supreme Court of Victoria, VSC 145, 25 March 2022
TORTS – Nuisance – Private
– Wind farm operated by defendant
– Plaintiffs complain noise from wind turbines disturbs sleep
– Substantial interference with plaintiffs’ enjoyment of land
– Interference is intermittent and specifically affects plaintiffs’ ability to sleep undisturbed at night
– Social and public utility of wind farm
– Whether plaintiffs hypersensitive
– Nature and established uses in locality
– Whether wind farm an established use in locality
– Whether defendant took reasonable precautions
– Noise found to be substantial and unreasonable interference with plaintiffs’ enjoyment of land.
PLANNING – Permit compliance
– Relevance of permit compliance to private nuisance claim
– Noise conditions in planning permit apply New Zealand Standard 6808:1998 Acoustics – The Assessment and Measurement of Sound from Wind Turbine Generators
– Whether wind farm complied with noise conditions in permit
– Proper interpretation of noise conditions and NZ Standard
– Role of Minister in relation to permit compliance
– Minister responsible authority for noise conditions under Planning and Environment Act 1987(Vic)
– Not for Minister to determine permit compliance
– Defendant did not establish compliance with noise conditions in permit.
– Whether damages an adequate remedy for continuing nuisance
– Damages not an adequate remedy
– Injunction restraining defendant from continuing to permit noise from wind turbines to cause nuisance at night and requiring defendant to take necessary measures to abate nuisance
– Injunction stayed for three months.
– Damages for past loss of amenity
– Aggravated damages
– High-handed conduct of defendant
– Exemplary damages not awarded.
Download original document: “Noel Uren and John Zakula v Bald Hills Wind Farm”
Geluid van industriële windturbines: De relatie met gezondheid [Industrial wind turbine noise: the association with human health]
[English abstract] Climate targets will provide the Netherlands with more and higher industrial wind turbines that produce various ‘side effects’, including noise pollution and annoyance. Especially low-frequency noise and infrasonic vibrations can be detected more than 10 km away. In neighbouring residential areas, long-term exposure, especially at night, leads to sleep disturbances, with secondary symptoms, that may be associated with, for example, delay in cognitive development of children. More research is needed.
Jan A.P.M. de Laat, clinical physicist/audiologist, Audiologisch Centrum (KNO), LUMC, Leiden
Wilco Alteveer, civil engineer, Utrecht
A.J.J. (Ronald) Maas, non-practising vestibulologist, Louw Feenstra, ENT specialist and philosopher, afd. Keel-, neus- en oorheelkunde, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam
Sylvia van Manen, general practitioner and mental health care physician, Haspel Foundation, ’s-Hertogenbosch
Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, 2021;165:D5999
Download original document: “Geluid van industriële windturbines: De relatie met gezondheid”
Wind turbines and adverse health effects: Applying Bradford Hill’s criteria for causation by Anne Dumbrille, Robert McMurtry, and Carmen Krogh – ‘Big Noises: Tobacco and Wind’
Author: Evans, Alun
In the absence of a direct means of assessing causality by experiment, Dumbrille, McMurtry, and Krogh  have resorted to the nine criteria devised  by the English Statistician, Austin Bradford Hill, to assign causality. They have applied them to the putative adverse health effects associated with wind farm noise and have found all nine to be upheld.
Bradford Hill’s outstanding contribution to Public Health, with Richard Doll, was assembling a cohort of 40,000 British Doctors to study the epidemic of lung cancer that emerged in the first half of the 20th century. They showed  extremely strong associations between the number of cigarettes smoked and the development of lung cancer and other diseases. These associations were well known to the Tobacco Industry, which had suppressed the scientific evidence for years , but eventually, the companies were made to apologize to the public . For how long have the adverse health effects of wind turbine noise been known?
In 1967, a UNESCO publication discussed , “the dangers of sounds we cannot hear,” defining Infrasound as <30 Hz. By 1973, the Russians had defined safe upper limits for Infrasound (<20 Hz) in various settings . In the 1980s, Kelley et al. investigated a single turbine in America where around 12% of families within 3 km were impacted by noise emissions . The passage of the rotors past the turbine's supports caused low-frequency pressure pulsations to be directed into the complainants' dwellings. The situation was aggravated by a complex sound propagation process controlled by terrain and atmospheric focusing. The impulsiveness of the emitted low-frequency acoustic radiation was identified as a major problem. Various recommendations were made concerning noise reduction and as to how the low-frequency noise should be measured . In the UK in 1990, The Batho (Noise Review Working Party) Report devoted  a single, important, page to low-frequency noise, observing that it could have a serious effect on the lives of those affected by it: “The noise may be inaudible to the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) and its measurement often requires sophisticated monitoring techniques.” It was stated that the normal A-weighted scale was not appropriate for its measurement, and the problem was a real one, recommending in bold, “that full support should be given to the current program of research.” In the UK in 2001, a Report on Low-Frequency Noise by Stanger was prepared for the UK's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs . It drew on the Batho Report but went much further. Two years later, when the British Prime Minister launched  his country's “Our Energy Future,” largely based on wind energy, there was no mention whatsoever of low-frequency noise. What had happened? Although all potential sources of renewable energy were being considered in the early 1980s, by the mid-1990s, wind energy was deemed paramount by the UK's Government . In 1996, the Department of Trade and Industry, whose remit was to create the optimal environment for business success, with no brief for environmental protection, established The Working Group (WG) on Noise from Wind Turbines . The WG brief was to identify noise levels thought to offer a reasonable degree of protection, without unreasonably restricting development. Of its 14 members, six were directly, and two indirectly, connected with the wind industry, three were civil servants and three EHOs, with no medical or planning input whatsoever. The impact of Low-Frequency Noise was discounted, so A-weighted noise measurements were recommended, and only turbines to a hub height of 32 m were considered . The WG's chief concern was to promote wind energy, irrespective of its impacts on rural communities. This resulted in the highest night-time noise limits permitted anywhere. A proposed review 2 years after 1996 never took place. In 2011, a letter written by the CEO of the Danish wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas, to the Danish Environment Minister, which was leaked and translated, asked why it was ... 
that Vestas does not just make changes to the wind turbines so that they make less noise? The simple answer is that at the moment it is simply not possible to do so, and it requires time and resources because presently we are at the forefront of what is technically possible for our large wind turbines, and they are the most efficient of all.
It seems that, in common with the tobacco industry, the wind industry was well aware that its products were inimical to health. The introduction of larger turbines is also problematic because the larger the turbines, the more noise they produce .
Over half a century ago, Hill wrote  that Public Health should be “ever striving for improved environmental quality with the accompanying reduction in disease morbidity and mortality.” We still have a long way to go to adequately protect people’s health from the impact of wind farm noise, as the authors’ findings have so amply demonstrated.
1. Dumbrille A, McMurtry RY, Krogh CM. Wind turbines and adverse health effects: Applying Bradford Hill’s criteria for causation. Environ Dis 2021;6:65-87.
2. Hill AB. The environment and disease: Association or causation? J R Soc Med 1965;589:295-300.
3. Stampfer M. New insights from the British Doctors Study: Risks for persistent smoking are substantially larger than previously suspected. Br Med J 2004;328:1507.
4. Brandt AM. Inventing conflicts of interest: A history of tobacco industry tactics. Am J Public Health 2012;102:63-71.
5. NBC News. Big tobacco finally tells the truth in court-ordered campaign; November 27, 2017. Available from: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/big-tobacco-finally-tells-truth-court-ordered-ad-campaign-n823136. [Last accessed on 2021 Nov 25].
6. Lehmann G. Noise and health. Paris, France: UNESCO Courier; 1967. p. 26-31.
7. Stepanov V. Biological effects of low frequency acoustic oscillations and their hygienic regulation. Moscow: State Research Center of Russia; 1967. p. 15. Available from: //docs.wind-watch.org/Stepanov-et-al-2003-infrasound.pdf. [Last accessed on 2021 Nov 26].
8. Kelley ND, McKenna HE, Hemphill RR, Etter CI, Garrelts RI, Linn NC. Acoustic noise associated with the MOD-1 wind turbine: Its source, impact, and control. Golden, Colorado, USA: Solar Energy Research Institute, a Division of Midwest Research Institute; 1985.
9. Kelley ND. A Proposed metric for assessing the potential of community annoyance from wind turbine low-frequency noise emissions. Colorado, USA: Presented at the Windpower’87 Conference and Exposition, San Francisco. Solar Energy Research Institute, a Division of Midwest Research Institute; 1987. Available from: https://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/old/3261.pdf.
10. Department of the Environment. Report of the Noise Review Working Party (Batho). London: HMSO; 1990. p. 27..
11. Stanger. Report: Low frequency noise: Technical research support for DEFRA Noise Programme; 2001.
12. Department of Trade and Industry. Our energy future – Creating a low carbon economy. London: HMSO; 2003.
13. Wilson JC. A history of the UK Renewable Energy Programme, 1974-88: Some social, political, and economic aspects. PhD Thesis. Glasgow, Scotland (Published privately): University of Glasgow; 2010.
14. Working Group on Noise from Wind Farms. The assessment and rating of noise from windfarms. ETSU-R-97 final report, Department of Trade and Industry.
15. Letter written by the CEO of the Danish wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas, to the Danish Environment Minister; 2011. Available from: https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/letter-from-vestas-worried-about-regulation-of-low-frequency-noise/.
16. Møller H, Pedersen CS. Low-frequency noise from large wind turbines. J Acoust Soc Am 2011;129:3727-44.
17. Hill AB. Information on levels of environmental noise requisite to protect public health and welfare with an adequate margin of safety. Washington DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; 1974.
Alun Evans, Centre for Public Health, The Queen’s University of Belfast, Institute of Clinical Science B, Belfast, United Kingdom
Environmental Disease 2021, Vol. 6, Iss. 4, Pages 109-110. DOI: 10.4103/ed.ed_24_21
Download original document: “Wind turbines and adverse health effects”
Author: Chiu, Chun-Hsiang; et al.
Abstract: Wind turbines generate low-frequency noise (LFN, 20–200 Hz), which poses health risks to nearby residents. This study aimed to assess heart rate variability (HRV) responses to LFN exposure and to evaluate the LFN exposure (dB, (LAeq) inside households located near wind turbines. Thirty subjects living within a 500 m radius of wind turbines were recruited. The field campaigns for LFN (LAeq) and HRV monitoring were carried out in July and December 2018. A generalized additive mixed model was employed to evaluate the relationship between HRV changes and LFN. The results suggested that the standard deviations of all the normal to normal R–R intervals were reduced significantly, by 3.39%, with a 95% CI = (0.15%, 6.52%) per 7.86 dB (LAeq) of LFN in the exposure range of 38.2–57.1 dB (LAeq). The indoor LFN exposure (LAeq) ranged between 30.7 and 43.4 dB (LAeq) at a distance of 124–330 m from wind turbines. Moreover, households built with concrete and equipped with airtight windows showed the highest LFN difference of 13.7 dB between indoors and outdoors. In view of the adverse health impacts of LFN exposure, there should be regulations on the requisite distances of wind turbines from residential communities for health protection.
LFN exposure has been found to cause a variety of health conditions. Exposure to LFN from wind turbines results in headaches, difficulty concentrating, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, aural pain sleep disturbances, and annoyance. Clinically, exposure to LFN from wind turbines may cause increased risk of epilepsy, cardiovascular effects, and coronary artery disease. It was also found that exposure to noise (including LFN) may have an impact on heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is the variation over time of the period between adjacent heartbeats, which is an indicator of the activities of the autonomic nervous system, consisting of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Autonomic imbalance usually represents a hyperactive SNS and a hypoactive PNS and results in reduced HRV. An autonomic imbalance may increase the morbidity and mortality of cardiovascular diseases. A review paper indicated that road traffic noise may overactivate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (HPA) and sympathetic-adrenal-medullar axis (SAM), increase the blood pressure and reduce HRV, and finally affect the cardiovascular system. A recent study analyzing 658 measurements of HRV obtained from 10 healthy males (18–40 years old) indicated reductions in HRV due to environmental LFN exposure. However, few studies have specifically examined the effect of LFN from wind turbines on HRV in healthy individuals; thus, this was the aim of this study. …
Besides distance from turbines, building materials also affect indoor LFN exposure. This work assessed the indoor LFN levels for several recruited households with different building materials and open/closed windows to illustrate their potential impacts. It is known that materials have different sound absorption coefficients. The overall sound pressure level and spectrum of external noise change when transmitted to the interior of a building. Mid- and high-frequency noises are selectively attenuated by roofs and walls, causing the building structure to function like an LFN pass filter. Outdoor to indoor noise reduction generally decreases with frequency, [but variations exist] related to housing construction and room dimensions. [Below 2.5 Hz, the outdoor to indoor noise reduction is zero. (“Outdoor to indoor reduction of wind farm noise for rural residences,” Kristy Hansen, Colin Hansen, and Branko Zajamšek)] Factors contributing to indoor/outdoor noise reduction also include structural resonances, room modes, and coupling between the air volume inside the residence and the stiffness of the walls, roofs, and ceilings.
Chun-Hsiang Chiu, Shih-Chun Candice Lung, Nathan Chen, Jing-Shiang Hwang, & Ming-Chien Mark Tsou
Research Center for Environmental Changes and Institute of Statistical Science, Academia Sinica; Department of Atmospheric Sciences and Institute of Environmental Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
Scientific Reports volume 11, article number: 17817 (2021)
Download original document: “Effects of low-frequency noise from wind turbines on heart rate variability in healthy individuals”