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Wind turbine near Turriff suspected of breaching noise guidelines

Family living 1.2km (3/4 of a mile) from 80m high turbine suffer excessive noise. Is Aberdeenshire’s 400 metre (1/4 mile) minimum separation distance between large turbines and homes sufficient?

The 80m high wind turbine at Newstead Farm, near Cuminestown, has been the subject of a noise complaint from a family living three times further from the turbine than Aberdeenshire Council’s minimum separation distance.

Following the complaint and subsequent noise monitoring at their home, Aberdeenshire Council’s Environmental Health Department has written to the affected family to confirm that noise at their home exceeds the 35 dB(A) noise limit during the day and night, at wind speeds of 9-10 metres per second (20-22 miles per hour).

Further noise investigations are to be undertaken. In the meantime, the turbine will be operated at a reduced power mode at those wind speeds, in order to reduce noise output.

The minimum separation distance between commercial wind turbines and homes in Aberdeenshire is 400m, approximately 1/4 of a mile. It is apparent from this family’s case that a separation distance of three times that may be insufficient to prevent excessive noise. Unfortunately, developers continue to submit planning applications for commercial wind turbines in very close proximity to homes in Aberdeenshire, with very small margins of acceptability on predicted noise levels. It is only once turbines are erected that the actual noise levels are known.

It is becoming apparent that some wind energy companies are perhaps unwilling or not competent to adequately consider the effects of turbine noise over distance. Not for the first time, CAWT asks that Aberdeenshire Council operate a precautionary principle when determining wind turbine applications. We also ask that the Council re-considers its 400m minimum separation distance between commercial wind turbines and homes, in order to protect the amenity of residents in light of the growing number of noise complaints and also to reflect the larger separation distances expected by other local authorities in Scotland – e.g. Fife Council recommends a separation distance of 2km/1.5 miles, five times greater than Aberdeenshire Council’s current guidelines.

CAWT has been sent a copy of the correspondence from Aberdeenshire Council and given permission by the family concerned to publish this story on the CAWT website in the hope that their experiences may help others experiencing similar problems. If anybody wishes to contact the family for further details, please contact CAWT.