The majority of people living near wind turbines believe that the noise they make is ruining their health and quality of life, a report has revealed.
Neighbours also claim that the constant hum and the loud “whooshing” sound made by the blades in high winds is destroying the value of their homes.
A survey of people whose homes are situated within 1.2 miles of turbines has shown that three-quarters of them feel that the noise has damaged their quality of life while four out of five say it has affected their health.
Those who said they were made ill by the sound of the wind farms, which are designed to benefit the environment, described conditions ranging from migraines and palpitations to depression.
Three quarters said their sleep was disturbed by the noise and some claimed that they had been forced to stay in bed and breakfasts to get a proper night’s rest or to sell their homes at reduced prices to get away from the area.
One of the respondents to the survey, carried out by a family doctor, claimed that the noise was “like Chinese water torture”, while others said they could “see no future” and “dare not sleep at home”.
Dr Amanda Harry, a Plymouth GP who compiled the report after studying the effects of wind turbine noise for several years, wrote: “What this shows is that there are a number of people suffering from the consequences of noise from the wind turbines.
“I’m sure that the cases mentioned here are the tip of the iceberg and further independent investigation is warranted.
There is much concern within communities that if one is seen to complain about the noise and if they decide to move away, their properties will be difficult to sell and possibly devalued as a result. They feel they are in a ‘Catch-22’ situation.”
Some wind farms are situated just a few hundred yards from homes but Dr Harry believes that until independent research is carried out, no turbines should be built closer than 1.5 miles from the nearest dwelling.
Dr Harry wrote: “There are many people living near wind turbines who are suffering from problems with their health. The noise produced from the wind turbines is an extremely complex one and I feel that it is the complexity of the noise and vibration which causes the disturbance.
“From my discussions with people suffering from ill-health who live near wind farms, it seems that the symptoms suffered can occur up to a mile from the wind farm.”
But a spokesman for the British Wind Energy Association said it was just a “myth” that turbines were noisy. She said: “We are aware that people have concerns but we are not aware of any evidence that supports their claims.
“The unfortunate thing about noise is that it can be a subjective perception. Some people can be more sensitive than others.”
The Government commissioned a report into claims that the low-frequency noise emitted by wind turbine generators was affecting people’s health but it found last year that there was “no evidence” of ill-effects.
The report did admit that some wind turbines were responsible for a loud “whooshing” noise created by a phenomenon known as aerodynamic modulation, but the Department for Trade and Industry insisted that this was present in only five of the 126 wind farms in the UK.
A Government working group on wind turbine noise has also been set up.
By Martin Beckford
16 April 2007
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