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Wind farm’s sonic footprint

Like the wholly misleading photo montages in the latest edition of Windylights I would also suggest that the footprint size that Viking Energy say the industrial wind farm will make on the landscape of Shetland is also grossly inadequate.

For example if we measure the impact that a field full of sheep will have on a field we do not just count the area where the sheep are standing or the road they will walk along as the overall impact of their grazing, we count the whole field.

Likewise with these huge turbines we have to take into consideration all the effects they will have on the environment around them. This includes the roads, the foundations of the turbines, the converter station in the Kergord valley, the quarries and the shadows. The flickering shadow from these turbines when the sun is at a low ark of 20 degrees would be in the region of a quarter of a mile long.

Up to now the huge destructive visual impact of this oversized proposal has been my main objection, however during the last few weeks my view has changed. In an attempt to look at this proposal objectively I’ve been spending as much time up at the Burradale turbines as possible (a scheme I fully support by the way).

However what has disturbed me more than anything is the sound of the turbines. This is not so much the actual decibels as the deep vibratory effect of the turning blades that seemed to penetrate my very being. Call me a wimp but I have not been able to spend much longer than an hour up there without feeling distressed, disorientated and nauseous.

The science into the health hazards associated with exposure to continual low frequency sound (infrasound) caused by wind farms is relatively new and one of the leading researchers in this field is Nina Pierpont and her research should be essential reading for any one interested in wind farm development – http://www.ninapierpont.com

Infrasound is more prominent at night where sleep disturbance occurs. People wake up tired, irritable and ultimately fall ill.

Symptoms are many and include anxiety, confusion, epilepsy and even suicide. Poor attainment amongst school children whose classroom is near a wind farm is also thought to be associated to the effects of infrasound.

She recommends a minimum distance of 1.5 miles from any home, school or hospital or indeed anywhere where people regularly gather. In hills or valleys this should rise to 2.5 to 3 miles.

To say that the area between turbines should not be counted as contributing to the overall footprint because it has been returned back to traditional usage is simply not true. For the above reasons the area will effectively be rendered a wasteland where no human will want to go for any period of time. To any doubters out there please go to the Burradale turbines and experience this for yourself

Therefore the overall footprint created by the wind farm will obviously be very much bigger than the current figures being touted by Viking Energy and the environmental and health impact surveys will hopefully take this into consideration.

Yours Sincerely
Paul Bloomer

The Shetland News

21 April 2008