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Renowned acoustician denounces double standards in noise regulations

Tricks are used to allow wind farms too close to habitations

In an email replying to the European Platform against Windfarms (EPAW), world-leading specialist in low-frequency sound Professor Henrik Møller of Aalborg University denounces the improper acoustic measurements carried out by Danish authorities. As a result, he says, the new regulations for wind farm noise are not in line with industrial noise standards. According to EPAW, this effectively constitutes discrimination against wind farm neighbors, which now have less protection than other citizens – in Denmark, but also in those countries that may take their cues from the small kingdom.

Henrik Møller and his team of acousticians have been consulted by DEPA, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. But their recommendations have been ignored: “We had many objections to the proposal, but none of these were accommodated in the final version” (1). Answering a question from EPAW, the Professor explains how the new regulations will not effectively enforce the 20 dB(A) limit of low-frequency noise levels regarding wind farms, but that this limit is indeed being applied to other industries (2). Notes Mark Duchamp, of EPAW: “In reality, this is a case of double standards.”

In his email to EPAW dated Feb. 5, 2012, Professor Møller wrote: “All these errors sum up to probably not far from 10 dB, which means that the limit is suddenly not 20 but rather 30 dB(A). But the rules are claimed to give the same protection as for industrial sources, which is simply not true.” His letter is reproduced below (2).

“At low frequencies,” continues the Professor, “the perceived intensity, the loudness, increases more steeply above threshold than at higher frequencies. This means that when the level is a few decibels above the 20 dB limit, the consequences are more severe, than if a limit for higher frequencies is exceeded by the same amount. Few people would probably accept 25 dB(A) in their home at night and hardly anyone would accept 30 dB(A).”

Adds Duchamp: “It would appear that the Danish authorities have been cooking the figures to accommodate the wind industry. Years ago, governments were protecting tobacco companies; today, they absolve wind farms of all sins and help them commit more.”

The North-American Platform against Windpower (NA-PAW) joins EPAW in denouncing these manipulations which threaten wind farm neighbors within and beyond Denmark’s frontiers. EPAW and NA-PAW in turn are joined by the Waubra Foundation, Australia’s best known organization investigating the serious health issues affecting wind farm neighbors.

Contacts:

Mark Duchamp +34 693 643 736 (Spain); Skype: mark.duchamp; Executive Director, EPAW
www.epaw.org; save.the.eagles@gmail.com

Sherri Lange +1 416 567 5115 (Canada); CEO, NA-PAW www.na-paw.org; kodaisl@rogers.com

Dr Sarah Laurie +61 439 865 914 (Australia); Medical Director, Waubra Foundation; sarah@waubrafoundation.com.au

References:

(1) – Quote from the Aalborg University web page on the new wind turbine noise regulations:

http://www.es.aau.dk/sections/acoustics/press/new-danish-regulations-for-wind-turbine-noise/

(2) – Email of February 5, 2012 from Professor Henrik Møller to EPAW:

from Henrik Møller <hm@acoustics.aau.dk>

to

Mark Duchamp <save.the.eagles@gmail.com>

date 5 February 2012 19:56
subject Re: Noise regulations in Denmark

Dear Mark Duchamp

The Danish 20 dB(A) limit for low-frequency noise cannot be compared to normal noise limits because

Without an acoustical background, it may be difficult to understand how much 20 dB(A) 10-160 Hz noise is, but the limit is the same as for industrial noise in Denmark, and it is in the same order of magnitude as the limits in most other countries that have low-frequency limits (the limit may be defined in completely different ways). Most people will easily hear a noise at that level, and some will find it annoying, in particular if it goes on round the clock.

At low frequencies, the perceived intensity, the loudness, increases more steeply above threshold than at higher frequencies. This means that when the level is a few decibels above the 20 dB limit, the consequences are more severe, than if a limit for higher frequencies is exceeded by the same amount. Few people would probably accept 25 dB(A) in their home at night and hardly anyone would accept 30 dB(A). Therefore, measurements must be accurate.

In the new Danish statutory order for wind turbines, the noise is not measured but calculated. This need not be a problem, if the calculations are correct. But they are not.

The main problem is the sound insulation used to obtain indoor levels. The statutory order gives values to be used in the calculation, and these values are based on measurements in 26 Danish houses. Unfortunately, wrong measurements.

Sound at low frequencies varies a lot in a room, and according to the Danish rules for industrial noise, the level should – briefly explained – be measured, where the annoyed person finds it loudest. The sound insulation must be measured the same way in order to be applicable for calculations of indoor levels from the outdoor level. But it was not. The indoor measurement positions were simply chosen randomly and not selected for the high level. Thus the obtained values of sound insulation are too high – by several decibels.

Furthermore, statistical sound insulation values were chosen (from the wrong data) so that 33% of the houses have poorer sound insulation, meaning that the limit may be exceeded in 33% of the cases.

And finally, the calculated values may exceed the limit by a 2 dB uncertainty value. Measured levels from industrial sources are not allowed to exceed the limit.

All these errors sum up to probably not far from 10 dB, which means that the limit is suddenly not 20 but rather 30 dB(A). But the rules are claimed to give the same protection as for industrial sources, which is simply not true.

I hope this helps your understanding.

Sincerely,
~~~
Henrik Møller
Professor, Section of Acoustics
Department of Electronic Systems
Aalborg University
Fredrik Bajers Vej 7 B5
DK-9220 Aalborg Ø
Denmark
Phone: +45 9940 8711 (direct)
Phone: +45 9940 8710 (section office)
Phone: +45 9940 9940 (switchboard)
Fax: +45 9940 7510 (section office)
mailto:hm@acoustics.aau.dk (personal)
mailto:acoustics@acoustics.aau.dk (section office)
http://acoustics.aau.dk