A couple driven out of their home by noise from a wind farm launched a landmark battle in the High Court yesterday over their inability to get a peaceful night’s sleep.
Jane and Julian Davis say the low- frequency hum of the 320ft tall turbines, which they liken to the sound of a helicopter, kept them awake even with earplugs and their double glazed windows closed.
They claim it became so intolerable they were forced to move from their home in Deeping St Nicholas, Lincolnshire, six months after the eight-turbine wind farm began operating just over half a mile from their home in 2006.
Mr and Mrs Davis are challenging the turbines’ owners in a case which, if they win, could lead to operators of up to 50 wind farms across the country having to stop their turbines or compensate hundreds of residents living near them.
Speaking yesterday outside the London court before the start of the case, Mrs Davis, 55, a former nurse, described the noise as a ‘whoom whoom whoom’.
‘I want to stop the noise so we can go back home and relax and sleep and live like we did five years ago,’ she said. ‘It is a horrible noise.
‘It is unpredictable but occurs mainly in the course of the night, and there is no assurance that you can stay asleep.
I’m not against wind farms or what they look like. I just want the industry and Government to recognise that some wind farms have unexpected adverse effects.’
The couple could face ruin if they lose the case and are forced to pay the defendants’ legal costs.
The case will focus on ‘amplitude modulation’, the swishing noise made by the blades in certain conditions.
Research suggests many complaints about wind farms relate to this, and the industry admits it is not properly understood.
The couple, who have two grown-up children, would ideally like to be able to move back to the farmhouse, which Mr Davis, 46, bought in 1993.
They say the problem could be resolved if the owners and operators, Fenland Windfarms Ltd and Fenland Green Power Co-operative Limited, limited the hours of operation of one of the turbines and removed two others.
Their lawyers are seeking an injunction to bring about these changes.
But in the event that the modifications are not made, they are seeking £400,000 damages for their extra housing costs to date and to buy an equivalent home elsewhere. There is currently no legal limit to how near a wind farm can be to someone’s home.
Opening the case yesterday Peter Harrison QC, representing the couple, said: ‘For Jane and Julian Davis, wind farms have emphatically not been the source of trouble-free, green renewable energy which the firms promoting and profiting from wind energy would have the general public believe.’
Mr Harrison added that the operator’s approach has been ‘to attack the credibility and reasonableness’ of Mr and Mrs Davis.
William Norris QC, for the defendants, said an injunction should not be granted given the operators’ willingness to find a solution to the noise.
The case continues.