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Turbine noise is just a ‘steady swish’

A farmer being sued for damages over the noise of wind turbines on his land claims he has only ever heard a “steady swish” from their blades.

Nicholas Watts, who owns Vine House Farm, near Deeping St Nicholas, told London’s High Court yesterday that his house is 910 metres from the nearest turbine but he has never been bothered by its sound.

Jane and Julian Davis claim they were driven out from their home at Grays Farm, Deeping St Nicholas in 2007 by the noise of the eight-turbine windfarm installed in 2006.

They are suing Mr Watts and another landowner RC Tinsley Ltd as well as Fenland Windfarms Ltd and Fenland Green Power Cooperative Ltd, who own and operate the turbines.

They are seeking a permanent injunction to halt the noise, or damages of up to £2.5 million to compensate them for the disruption to their lives.

But when questioned by his QC, William Norris, Mr Watts said he had “never heard the wind turbines in the house” but he “occasionally heard them in the yard as a gentle swooshing noise”.

Mr Watts told the court he has received several national conservation awards over the years and was voted National Farmers’ Union’s Farmer Of The Year in 2004.

When he learned that the couple were experiencing noise problems, he told the court he asked them on five occasions to demonstrate the trouble they were encountering.

He asked Mrs Davis to tell him the next time she was experiencing noise problems but when he visited Grays Farm in response to a telephone call, he claims all he could hear was a “steady swish”.

He added: “Mrs Davis said that sometimes the noise is so bad it rattles and vibrates the buildings here. I said to her I’d like to hear it when the noise is like that.”

The next time Mrs Davis alerted him to the noise, he was too far away to visit her.

Soon afterwards, he met Mr Davis in fields about a mile away from Grays Farm and asked him how the turbines affected him.

Mr Watts claimed he told him that the turbines were “not too bad” but “sometimes they really do rattle the building”.

He told the court he urged Mr Davis to contact him if the noise rattled the building but he barely talked to him again after that meeting.

The defendants all deny creating any noise nuisance and suggest the couple may have become “unduly sensitive” to the sound of turbines.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom adjourned the case yesterday until November when expert evidence on wind turbines will begin.