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Noise pollution from wind turbines and its effects on wildlife: A cross-national analysis of current policies and planning regulations
- Wind turbine noise (WTN) can have a detrimental effect on nearby wildlife.
- WTN can harm vital survival, social, and rearing mechanisms in certain species.
- Planning guidelines in the US, Germany and Israel do not address these adverse effects.
- Micro-placement, zoning, and impact assessments can aid in WTN impact mitigation.
- More research is needed on WTN effects on wildlife to create appropriate regulations.
The quest for cleaner energy has caused governments to expand renewable energy infrastructure, including wind turbine farms. However, wind turbines (WTs) can also pose a risk to certain wildlife species, with wildlife-related research predominantly focusing on the potential harm caused to birds and bats from impact injuries. New evidence suggests that WT noise (WTN) impacts on wildlife can also be detrimental to wildlife, but rarely receive attention from planners. Potential types of WTN impact, including damage to wildlife physical wellbeing, vital survival mechanisms, social and reproductive processes, and habitat continuity. This article reviews the current literature on WTN effects on wildlife, and analyzes the planning guidelines relating to WTN and wildlife in three selected locales where WT infrastructure is being expanded: California, Germany, and Israel. Findings indicate that none of them have clear zoning limitations or obligatory environmental impact assessment (EIA) guidelines that require addressing the WTN effects on wildlife. However, some steps taken by planning authorities suggest potential for improvement. These include language in California planning recommendations addressing the potential effects of WTN on wildlife; a German survey of local bird species’ sensitivity to noise (including a WTN section); and increasing non-obligatory recommendations that encourage distancing WTs from protected areas. The study concludes that WTN effects on wildlife could be mitigated by gathering additional scientific data on WTN impacts, mapping species presence and auditory sensitivity to provide information for planners and advisors, and mandating the use of better science-informed practices and technologies for WTN reduction, such as long-term monitoring, zoning, and micro-siting.
Yael Teff-Seker, Department of Sociology, University of California, Davis
Naama Teschner, Department of Geography and Environmental Development, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Oded Berger-Tal, Yael Lehnardt, Marco and Louise Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Volume 168, October 2022, 112801
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