Shadow flicker, ice throw, aerodynamic modulation.
It sounds like the stuff of science fiction – but it can be the reality of living next door to a wind turbine.
While many people support the principle of green energy, not everybody wants a windfarm on their doorstep.
The Scottish Executive has received 11,397 objections to the revised application for the Lewis Wind Farm – which is predicted to kill three golden eagles a year – off the west coast.
In the North-east, the Skelmonae Windfarm Action Group was formed in Methlick earlier this year.
Member Mervyn Newberry, 42, a sales manager in oil and gas, said: “These monstrosities inflict untold misery on local inhabitants with their high levels of noise, shadow flicker, ruination of natural landscape, devastation of wildlife habitat and loss of housing value.”
Because of the push for renewable energy, councils are generally supportive of windfarms, though planning criteria must be met.
The policy in Aberdeenshire – where all but one of the North-east’s turbines are sited – states they should be “appropriate in terms of the scale and nature of the setting”.
Turbines must be a minimum of 400 meters (quarter of a mile) from the nearest house.
They must also be sited to “minimise” ice throw and flickering from shadows.
Aberdeenshire Council also looks out for a “significant” increase in background levels.
It warns that it will rigorously test claims noise is reduced by soundproofing and screening.
Aberdeenshire Council’s Structure Plan Team Leader Piers Blaxter said: “The council supports the development of wind turbines as a principle.
“However, it also recognises that they may not be suitable in all locations.”
Ecologist Dr John Etherington, who campaigns against windfarms, said: “As wind farms are built closer to homes there are growing complaints of intolerable sound from the many blades coming in and out of synchronization.” This is called amplitude or aerodynamic modulation, and is sometimes described as sounding like a distant train.”
A study by Salford University for the Government has concluded the phenomenon is “not an issue” for the UK’s windfarms.
But the report – out today – did show its occurrence could not be predicted.
Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said: “Where there are legitimate problems we will address them. But it is essential we produce more wind power if we are to meet our climate change and security of supply aims.”
2 August 2007