The cottages around Askam wind farm occupy the perfect spot, looking out to sea over to the isle of Man and inland to the Lake District. The only problem is the noise.
The seven turbines have sparked the most complaints about wind farms in the country. Residents complain of a noise like someone is “mixing cement in the sky” or a “clog is stuck in the tumble dryer” and they are not the only ones.
New figures reveal that at least one in six wind farms have had complaints about noise causing a lack of sleep or just been “dreadfully irritating”.
The statistics show the growing concern around the health impacts of wind turbines as the Government plans to spend billions of pounds encouraging developers to erect around 1,000 new onshore turbines over the next ten years.
This weekend campaigners meet in Darlington for WindConf 2010 to hear from victims and experts about the impacts of wind farms on areas of outstanding beauty.
Gillian Haythornthwaite, who lives near the wind farm in Askam with her partner Barry Moon, said it has been a “devastating” experience.
“It is a dreadfully irritating whoosh, whoosh noise,” she said. “It is unbearable to be outside in the garden when there is the noise.”
The local council in Barrow in Furness said there have been more than 100 official complaints since the turbines were erected in 1999, although campaigners claim it is more than 270 from around a dozen people.
E. On, the energy company that runs the wind farm, said it has introduced a “noise reduction monitoring reduction system” that turns off the turbines when they turn in a certain direction in order to resolve the problem.
But David Brierley, a retired policeman who also lives nearby, said there is still a problem. He described the noise as like a train that never arrives or a helicopter landing outside.
“It is a horrendous situation,” he added.
Campaigners are gathering evidence on the noise problems caused by wind farms to pressure the Government to take action.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed the names of 27 wind farms that were included in a 2007 report on noise submitted to the Department for Business.
Since then Jane Davis, who is hoping to take her complaint about a wind farm near her home in Lincolnshire to the High Court, has recorded at least ten more noisy wind farms out of a total of 255 in the country.
She has submitted all the information to the Government but claims that many people are reluctant to make complaints because they fear nothing will be done.
“This is not about saying no wind farms anywhere, this is about saying lets have wind farms in the right place with the right regulations,” she said.
Dick Bowdler, an acoustic consultant, used to advise the Government on wind farm noise. However he resigned because he felt concerns about noise from wind farms were not being followed up.
“I have no doubt that there are some people who are seriously affected by wind farm noise,” he said.
Mr Bowdler said it was impossible to complain because the noise limits set for wind farms are too high.
“You cannot do anything except for a make a lot of fuss,” he said. “What is needed is stricter standards that bring wind farms into line with every other industrial noise.”
Dr Chris Hanning, a retired NHS sleep consultant, said the main problem is sleep disturbance that can lead to extreme stress.
“It you have this sound thumping away all day and there is nothing you can do to try and turn it off, it is very annoying,” he said.
The Department for the Environment insisted that the Government takes the problem seriously.
A spokesman said: “Renewable energy is needed for the long term prosperity of Britain, and wind energy is an important part of this. Any complaints about noise from wind turbines should be investigated by the local authorities.”
Wind farms that have been the subject of noise complaints, according to official document submitted to the Government by Salford University:
Glens of Foudland, Aberdeenshire
Cruach Mhor, Argyll and Bute
Royd Moor, Barnsley
Askam, Barrow in Furness
Blaen Bowi, Carmarthenshire
Carland Cross, Carrick
Four Burrows, Carrick
Moel Maelogen, Conwy
Hafoty Ucha, Conwy
Tir Mostyn & Foel Goch, Denbighshire
Michelin Tyre Factory, Dundee
Llyn Alaw, Anglesey
Cold Northcott, North Cornwall
Bears Down, North Cornwall
Delabole, North Cornwall
St Breock, North Cornwall
Mynydd Clogau, Powys
Crystal Rig, Scottish Borders
Hadyard Hill, South Ayrshire
Deeping St Nicholas, South Holland
Harlock Hill, South Lakeland
Lynch Knoll, Stroud
Forest Moor, Bradworthy, Torridge
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