Visual and Sound Impacts from the Wolfe Island Wind Project on Residents of Tibbetts Point Road, Cape Vincent, NY
This report outlines the acoustic and visual impacts of the Wolfe Island Wind Project on residents 2 miles (3.2 km) across the St. Lawrence River along the Tibbetts Point Road, Cape Vincent. Sound levels measured in January-February 2010, when the wind farm was operating, were 3 to 4 dBA greater than background sound levels measured in 2008, prior to construction of the wind farm. A mail-questionnaire was sent to 43 residents of the Tibbetts Point Road to assess their reaction to noise and visual impacts from the Wolfe Island Wind Project. Twenty-seven questionnaires were returned for a 63% response rate. Most respondents did not notice wind turbine noise, but at times, 38% were annoyed by the wind turbine sound. For the level of sound increase over background levels, respondents were more annoyed than New York DEC noise policy predicted. Those respondents that heard the turbines described the noise as a low frequency/low pitched sound that is louder on summer evenings when winds were weak or non-existent. This supports other research linking annoyance with wind turbine noise and atmospheric stability.
Far more respondents (88%) were annoyed by the change in landscape view than with noise. Ninety-two percent said these changes were for the worst and the blinking lights at night were especially disturbing; some comparing them with a commercial airport. Policy makers should know that visual and acoustic impacts for non-participating, waterfront residents are likely more negative than they may have initially thought. Furthermore, current NYSDEC noise guidelines may not adequately predict human response to wind turbine sound levels. (Note respondent comments in Appendix A)
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