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Control of Noise from Wind Turbines 

Author:  | Noise, Regulations, Wales

In July 2011, the Petitions Committee of the National Assembly for Wales was presented with a petition stating:

We call upon the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to pass a statute controlling the noise nuisance from wind turbines during anti-social hours. We ask for the implementation of respite periods during which time turbines would be switched off.

Noise respite periods are common in public health legislation. They are called for by the World Health Organisation in their Community Noise report; and are currently implemented in the U.K. on airport operations, construction sites and factories and other evening and overnight noise nuisance.

We ask that this applies to turbines above 1.3 MW, and that respite periods be between 18.00Hrs to 06.00Hrs for turbines within 1.5 Km of individual residences; and 22.00Hrs to 06.00 Hrs for turbines within 2Km of communities. Authorities within Wales determining applications under 50MW Plate Capacity, and the Infrastructure Planning Commission determining those over 50MW should make developers aware of this Public Health restriction which may affect individual turbines.

The petition was raised by James Shepherd Foster, a retired engineer, and collected 1074 signatures. It was first considered by Committee in September 2011.

The Committee could only consider the elements of the petition relating to windfarm development under 50MW, as responsibility for larger developments is retained at Westminster.

Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the Welsh Government should amend Statutory Planning Guidance to introduce buffer zones that maintain the current 500 metres minimum distance between dwellings and turbines, and increase the separation distance as appropriate, and in specified circumstances up to 1500 metres, according to environmental factors such as the topography and the ambient noise levels of the area.

Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that ETSU-R-97 guidelines are revised to take into account the lower ambient noise levels in rural areas and the latest research and World Health Organisation evidence on the effects of noise on sleep disturbance.

Recommendation 3: The Committee recommends that statutory planning guidance is amended to include a requirement that faulty turbines are switched off at specified times overnight as soon as a fault affects its noise emissions and that turbines are not returned to full operation until any such faults are fully repaired.

Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that the Institute of Acoustics Working Group carries out meaningful consultation with people living close to wind turbines so that their experiences can help to shape the conclusions and recommendations of the Group that are expected to be published in September 2012.

Download original document: “Control of Noise from Wind Turbines

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