The battle over two controversial wind turbines south of Lowestoft has taken a new twist after council officials branded one a “noise nuisance”.
An investigation by Waveney District Council’s Environmental Health Team concluded that noise levels at one home in Whites Lane, Kessingland, two months ago was enough to make the turbine a statutory nuisance.
The announcement has prompted villagers to step up their campaign to shut down the turbines which stand alongside the A12 amid claims that the noise and shadows their blades create is blighting people’s lives.
It comes after a turbulent month for the wind power industry as a whole after the Valuations Office Agency – which decides council tax evaluations – established that turbines could decrease a property’s value, and moved a number of homes into a lower price band.
So far, applications for council tax reduction by people in Kessingland and Gisleham have been refused, despite one woman claiming the turbines forced an estate agent to devalue her property by £100,000.
But a pressure group in Kesssingland is now calling for the district council to serve an abatement notice on the turbines’ operators, Triodos Renewables and EcoGen, which would give them seven days to address the “noise nuisance” or face possible legal action.
This week, the council admitted it was reluctant to make the move as an appeal by Triodos could leave it powerless to hold the company to account in the future. Instead, it plan address the problem by working with the operators which are due to publish a report in the next few weeks, outlining the possible solutions.
Meanwhile, Triodos maintains there is no evidence to suggests wind turbines affect property prices, and the company says it is committed to working with the council to address the noise problem.
Sue Kershaw, spokesman for the Kessingland Wind Turbine Pressure Group (KWTPG), said many villagers were “concerned” by the turbines, although she admits some people did like them.
“Three public meeting have been held, with up to 101 angry residents attending,” she said. “People’s concerns vary from noise, shadow flicker from the blades, and the devaluation of properties.
“At present, Waveney District Council have acknowledged a noise nuisance, and that Triodos are trying to solve the issues. The group are seeking and corresponding with all concerned and believe that Waveney should serve the abatement order.
“As for devaluation of properties, the group knows on only one resident that moved because of the wind turbines. Many are concerned after working hard all their lives for their homes.”
More than 60 people vented their anger at the third public meeting in June which was attended by KWTPG members and featured a panel including Waveney MP Peter Aldous and representatives from Waveney District Council and the turbine operators. A report by the Waveney environmental health officers in May revealed the noise caused by the turbines was not breaching government or planning regulations.
But it was discovered that more complaints were made about noise when the blades were turning at eight metres per second. Operators of the turbines – at Africa Alive and on farmland near the A12 – have vowed to try to reduce sound at this speed, and are hopeful new equipment installed in the turbines will help stop ‘shadow flicker’.
Matthew Clayton, director of Triodos, told The Journal: “Research produced by numerous organisations in the property industry including Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) concludes that there is no evidence to support that the presence of turbines devalues property.
“We are committed to continuing to work with the local residents to address their concerns. We are pleased to confirm that in the first 12 months of operation the wind farm has generated sufficient electricity to power more than 3000 homes.”
Andrew Reynolds, head of Waveney‘s environmental health team, said: “Documentation by the operators outlining proposals to solve the noise problem should appear within the next three weeks.
“There solutions may take ten minutes, or three weeks to implement, at this moment I cannot be sure. If it doesn’t solve the problem then we will have to look at it.”
A fourth public meeting is expected to be held in Kessingland in September.
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