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Problems with wind farms in England

My name is Jane Davis and I live 930m from Deeping St. Nicholas wind farm just south of Spalding in South Lincolnshire.(UK)

There are six other houses a similar distance away from the turbines, but ours is the only one downwind of the prevailing wind. Our nearest neighbours are a quarter to half a mile away.

We did not object to the windfarm in the planning stage as we did not believe that there would be any issues for us, and we believed that wind power was a good way of meeting the energy gap. We did read some negative reports on the internet but could not believe there would be any issues for us as we were never specifically consulted, nor were any background noise readings taken at our house.

The wind farm was built last summer and became operational in early June. Within three days we started having problems with the noise and hum from the windfarm.

Since then we have had constant issues with loud noises and low frequency sounds that create a hum in the house all the time. We have kept a log throughout. Many times last summer, as we are downwind of the prevailing wind, we were woken by loud “WHOOSHING” noises, that stopped us sleeping for more than 4 hours a night.

We informed our local environmental health department in June and they came out and were astonished at the loud noise recordings that they made.

Due to the government’s measure for assessing the noise from wind turbines known as ETSUR 97, which averages noise peaks out over a period of time, there is no recourse to justice under existing British law to assist us. We now know that although we were initially told less than 5% of wind farms have this problem the reality is likely to be in excess of 10%, and research has been undertaken by the DTI and DEFRA which will be reported soon that will give further and better information on this. We hope that other research will follow. We have found the DTI and DEFRA and the wind farm operators to be supportive so far, but nothing has yet been done to help us.

We understand that we suffer from a phenomenon known as aerodynamic or amplitude modulation. We also know that “in general, turbines are noisier now than in 1993_ (Hayes McKenzie Partnership, acoustic experts, in a report for Angus Council, Forfar, Scotland, June 2004.). The government found it necessary to set a specific measurement for wind turbine noise, and there is a Noise Working Group that operates between DTI and DEFRA.

Aerodynamic modulation is not fully understood; in the closing statements for South Cambridgeshire District Council in April 2007 Dr McKenzie from the Hayes McKenzie partnership explained that:

*Aerodynamic modulation exists, but there is no clear understanding as to what causes it. *It causes sleep disruption.

*It is not covered by ETSU.

*This site (Deeping St Nicholas) is a likely candidate.

*There is a need to assess and potentially apply a correction to ETSU-R-97.

I do know and accept that not every wind farm creates noise issues but those that do make life impossible for those who live near them, and by near I mean less than 2 km or 1.5 miles.

As a result of our difficulties we have been forced to find an alternative place to sleep – our sleeping house – which is 5 miles away in Spalding itself. After spending many nights “sofa-surfing” we reached the conclusion in December that we had to do this in order to be able to work and live safely – with a normal amount of sleep.

What I find astounding is that even though everyone now knows that there really is a noise problem wind farm developers and land owners will often attend meetings with literature that can really only be presented as including terminological inexactitudes such as:

“Modern wind farms are generally quiet”

Our experience shows that this just isn’t true.

“Property Values are not affected”

Our house which would previously have been worth about £180,000 is now likely to have a value of just the land, some £35,000 to £50,000, and would no longer be marketable as a home for people to live in.

One of our local land owners, who has some of the turbines on his land is now showing coach loads of people from other areas around “his” windfarm, and reassures them that there is no noise from the turbines. He knows of our problems but says these things all the same. But because of the income from the wind farm he would wouldn’t he?

Our experience shows that there is a real noise problem, which can be severe. Unfortunately, it is clear that existing regulations are not adequate to protect people, and until this whole noise phenomenon is better understood and regulated we feel that Councils and wind developers should be exercising the Precautionary Principle. Large wind turbines should not be permitted close to residential areas.

Jane Davis
via e-mail

Orangeville Citizen [Ontario, Ca.]

12 July 2007