Noisy wind farms face a crack down from councils following Government concern complaints are not being taken seriously enough.
At least one in six of the 255 wind farms in Britain have received noise complaints according to figures obtained by the Daily Telegraph.
But local authorities have never managed to prosecute on the grounds of noise nuisance because it is so difficult to prove.
The main problem is the intermittent nature of noise from wind farms that makes it difficult to measure. Inspectors have to be on the site when the noise is worst, even though that could be in the middle of the night. They also have to prove it is persistent even though it is difficult to know when the wind will change.
To try and solve these problems the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has commissioned research on how councils should be investigating noise.
“There is a possibility that local authorities are not currently investigating complaints about noise from wind farms due to the absence of any formal technical guidance,” an internal document reads.
“Defra wishes to let a contract to provide local authorities with a methodology by which to investigate noise from wind farms, to support local authority enforcement of statutory nuisance legislation.”
The research results, which are due out later this year, should make it much easier for councils to crackdown on noisy wind farms if they are causing a nuisance to residents.
Paul Bettison, Chairman of the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services, welcomed the move.
“The Government’s guidance for assessing noise from wind energy projects is outdated and needs to be reviewed to help councils do this,” he said.
However Dick Bowdler, an acoustic expert for 30 years, said it would be better to increase the permitted noise levels on planning guidance so that noisy wind farms are not built in the first place.
Ron Williams, 75, has submitted complaints about noise from eight turbines at Wharrels Hill in Cumbria. However, although environmental health at the local council offered to monitor the noise for 48 hours no action has been taken since the complaint was made over two years ago.
He welcomed new guidance to ensure local authorities take action
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