Noise from wind farms causes significant damage to sleep and mental health, a study has found.
The research, conducted by British and American scientists in the US state of Maine, found a ‘clear and significant’ difference in the quality of sleep enjoyed by those who lived within a mile of a wind farm and those who did not.
More than a quarter of those living near the turbines said they had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety since the wind farm started. More than a quarter of the same group said they had been prescribed sleeping pills.
The study, which was published in the journal Noise and Health, is the first to show a clear relationship between wind farms and general health and well-being. In the UK, planning guidance allows a nighttime noise level from wind farms of 42 decibels – equivalent to the hum of a fridge.
As a result, wind turbines are not allowed to be built within 380 yards of residential homes.
The findings come as a leading think tank claims that the relentless spread of wind farms across Scotland’s landscape will cost every family £400 a year by the end of this decade.
The Renewable Energy Foundation warned that families, who have already seen the cost of gas and electricity soar, could be hit hard by the cost of subsidising the wind industries.
Alex Salmond’s obsession with onshore turbines could cost an extra £1billion in subsidies, to be passed on through energy bills.
If Scotland became independent, the sky-high costs of the rapid expansion of onshore wind north of the Border would have to be shouldered here, rather than being shared between all residents of the UK.
The SNP wants half of all Scotland’s electricity to come from green energy by 2015, rising to 100 per cent by 2020.
Meanwhile, a YouGov poll of more than 2,200 people, commissioned by conservation charity the John Muir Trust, found that 40 per cent wanted politicians to protect wild landscapes from wind farms, while only 28 per cent wanted wind farms to get priority. It also found that 43 per cent of respondents would be less likely to visit an area littered with wind turbines.
Professor Jane Bower, of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, said: ‘The tourist business is a dispersed economic activity in an increasingly centralised world. It is accessible to rural communities in a way that many other economic activities are not.
‘Many of these small businesses, and a substantial number of their contractors, could become uneconomic and cease trading if even a small proportion of tourism business were lost.’
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