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Position of the National Institute of Public Health–National Institute of Hygiene on wind farms

The National Institute of Public Health–National Institute of Hygiene [1] is of the opinion that wind farms situated too close to buildings intended for permanent human occupation may have a negative impact on the comfort of living and health of the people living in their proximity.

The human health risk factors that the Institute has taken into consideration in its position are as follows:

In the Institute’s opinion, the laws and regulations currently in force in Poland (regarding risk factors which, in practice, include only the noise level) are not only inadequate to facilities such as wind turbines, but they also fail to guarantee a sufficient degree of public health protection. The methodology currently used for environmental impact assessment of wind farms (including human health) is not applicable to wind speeds exceeding 5 m/s. In addition, it does not take into account the full frequency range (in particular, low frequency) and the nuisance level.

In the Institute’s view , owing to the current lack of a comprehensive regulatory framework governing the assessment of health risks related to the operation of wind farms in Poland, an urgent need arises to develop and implement a comprehensive methodology according to which the sufficient distance of wind turbines from human habitation would be determined. The methodology should take into account all the above-mentioned potential risk factors, and its result should reflect the least favourable situation. In addition to landform and land use characteristics, the methodology should also take into consideration the category, type, height and number of turbines at a specific farm, and the location of other wind farms in the vicinity. Similar legislative arrangements aimed to provide for multi-criteria assessment, based on complex numerical algorithms, are currently used in the world.

The Institute is aware of the fact that owing to the diversity of factors and the complicated nature of such an algorithm, its development within a short time period may prove very difficult. Therefore, what seems to be an effective and simpler solution is the prescription of a minimum distance of wind turbines from buildings intended for permanent human occupation. Distance criteria are also a common standard-setting arrangement. Having regard to the above, until a comprehensive methodology is developed for the assessment of the impact of industrial wind farms on human health, the Institute recommends 2 km as the minimum distance of wind farms from buildings. The recommended value results from a critical assessment of research results published in reviewed scientific periodicals with regard to all potential risk factors for average distance usually specified within the fo0llowing limits:

In its opinions, the Institute has also taken into account the recommended distances of wind farms from buildings, as specified by experts, scientists, as well as central and local government bodies around the world (usually 1.0-5.0 km).

Download Reference List. [2]