The health issues, and not the acquisition of neighbouring properties, are the real problems in connection with giant wind turbines
KL [National Union of Local Councils], in an application of 21st January 2013 to the group involved in the settlement of the energy agreement 2012, has put forward a proposal regarding formation of an arrangement to buy up large open country areas – to buy properties, “that are in the way of future wind turbine areas”. The reason for this arrangement should be “to establish bigger – and thus fewer – areas for building of wind turbines on land”. It is the opinion of the KL that this arrangement could also “contribute to avoid conflicts with the closest neighbours”.
The proposal is put forward in connection with a decision “that the government mid 2013 will put forward an introduction as to how the building of wind turbines can be supported by new planning tools, strategic environmental valuation and improvements of the framework conditions”.
The national association Neighbours of Giant Wind Turbines with this letter want to point out to KL, the parliamentary parties as well as to the public that buying up of properties within the present distance regulations and noise limits is not the problem that is first and foremost on the list of issues that the settlement partners should deal with. However the revision of “The Announcement regarding wind turbine noise” is.
When this announcement in 2011 was ‘in consultation’ there were in the resulting response warnings from the work environment medical side that the announcement does not adequately protect neighbours against the health impact, among other things because disturbance of sleep affects people’s health. Status now is that exactly what the warnings predicted, is the situation that has proved to exist by the turbines that are already erected. Here are some examples:
- An article in the daily newspaper 4.12.2012 describes how Helene Jacobsen and Jens Hjorth’s family experience being neighbours of turbines, and especially how their child’s body reactions cause great concern.
- In an article in the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet 10.01.2013 Erik Nielsen describes how his and his wife’s life has become a “noise hell” and it’s only when they are away from their home that they find rest and proper sleep.
- The Medical Officers Institutions have received information that eight female employees in a company out of eight possible have suffered hormonal changes in the form of significant change in their menstrual cycle.
- In “Viden on Vind” s (knowledge about wind) investigation into neighbour nuisance the key material shows that 29% of the neighbours of up to 750 meter from the turbines have acknowledged sleep disturbances, that 41% of neighbours up to 1000 meters are disturbed by the noise and that 40% of the neighbours up to 2 km away can hear the turbines. Low frequency noise is heard by 20% as far as 2 km from the turbines.
- Holbæk Council has in the Environmental Administration (EPA) investigated if there is statutory authority that can demand that the owner of the turbine (Vattenfall) exercises control and takes
measures against very disturbing audible sounds at wind speeds over 8 meters per second. Quotation from a letter to Vattenfall: “… about 6 house owners near Hagesholm Wind Turbine Park have moved away from their houses. Others want to but cannot afford to move. Their health is getting ruined by living in the vicinity of the wind turbines.” The Environmental Administration announces that a council does not have the statutory right to intervene when the wind speed is more that 8 m/s.
- Delta in 2011 pointed out a connection between wind turbine noise and sleep disturbances and between sleep disturbances and the influence on health.
DASAM (scientific association under the medical association) writes in their consultation response in November 2011 that DASAM sees it as relevant that the Health Administration undertakes a professional health valuation of the effects of – as planned – the introduction of several thousand wind turbines in Denmark.
The Environmental Minister in June 2012 says that the problem has never been scientifically investigated and that influences on cardiovasculars diseases cannot be ruled out.
Danish neighbours as mentioned above have started to report the influence on their health and the first cases have by the occupational health doctors been linked to wind turbine noise.
So there is no doubt that the noise announcement does not protect neighbours sufficiently against the effects on their health. There is no doubt at all about the influence on the health, the question is just how much.
LNtK is often from various people in the wind turbine debate accused of scaremongering. The above facts from real life speak for themselves. Our work aims at information and on the background of the above LNtK has formulated the following main demands:
A new noise announcement is to be drawn up that defines noise limits that apply to all wind speeds and protect people’s health. Independent, scientific empirical research in the health area is to be initiated so that the occupational health relevant noise- and distance requirements are identified.
People are not to be used as guinea pigs. Until there is certainty with regards to the health risks that are associated with being a neighbour to a wind turbine the building of wind turbines on land must be postponed.
KL’s application to the settlement partners completely bypass this problem. A new announcement that takes into account the neighbours’ actual situation must precede an improvement of the framework conditions and thus extend the possibilities of building wind turbines within the current – and inadequate – noise- and distance demands.
If there are deliberations regarding acquisition of properties it should be for the purpose of increasing the distance to the neighbours, and a new announcement regarding the noise and distance demands must be the planning premise.
Therefore there is no doubt that the announcement must be changed before the building of turbines on land continues.
To the National Union of Local Councils (KL), FAO Erik Nielsen and Kristian Wendelboe
cc to the energy and health spoke persons of the members of parliament and the mayors of Denmark’s councils
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