Noise created by commercial-scale wind turbines has become a major concern around the world as wind power development continues to proliferate. The problem is worse than the industry admits.
Although the industry claims that modern turbines are quieter – even as they grow ever larger – complaints are increasing from people who live near new projects. The deep unnatural thumping as the giant blades pass their supporting tower is particularly intrusive. Testimony from hundreds of turbine neighbors confirms this.
The noise is especially intrusive because wind energy facilities are often built in rural areas where the ambient sound level may be quite low, especially at night. Those affected assert that one can never get used to it. The disruption of sleep alone presents serious health and human rights issues.
The French National Academy of Medicine has called for a halt of all largescale wind development within 1.5 kilometers of any residence, because the sounds emitted by the blades constitute a permanent risk for people exposed to them.
The United Kingdom studied the issue and agreed with the recommendation of a one-mile setback.
In the U.S., the National Wind Coordinating Committee could not avoid the conclusion that the noise from wind turbines “may be especially disturbing in the middle of the night when traffic and household sounds are diminished.”
The commercial wind industry must respect the people who reside in targeted development regions, and honor their right to healthy lives and peaceful enjoyment of their homes, by adopting meaningful setbacks – measured in miles, not in feet.
Continued installation of wind turbines throughout our rural and mountainous landscapes without scientific, impartial review of the impacts of this industrialization, will have devastating effects on some of the most precious ecosystems in the world.
Any government money expended for wind energy should go to research, once and for all, the impacts of these massive turbines on our wildlife, open spaces, property values, health and safety of residents living in the vicinity of turbines, and the quality of rural life.
Anyone who wants to learn more about the issues surrounding commercial wind energy should contact National Wind Watch. Information and analysis is available through the Internet at wind-watch.org.
(Laura Jackson is chair of Save Our Allegheny Ridges, a coalition of local citizens’ organizations formed to raise awareness about the environmental impact of commercial wind energy development in Pennsylvania. SOAR, based in Bedford County, is responding to the Sept. 15 Endeavor News story about proposed wind energy regulation in Potter County. SOAR’s website is saveouralleghenyridges.com)
29 September 2007
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