People in Kessingland and Gisleham who claim their lives are being blighted by two giant wind turbines were this week told that their concerns were being listened to – and would be acted upon.
Waveney District Council made its pledge as it defended its handling of complaints about the “unacceptable levels of noise” from the 125m turbines on land by the A12.
Since they started operating two years ago, the turbines have prompted 327 complaints from people living nearby.
After meeting local residents this week, Bob Blizzard, Labour’s parliamentary prospective candidate for Waveney, demanded action – saying the council was not doing enough to address their concerns.
However, the council hit back and revealed it was considering taking legal action against the turbines’ operator Triodos Renewables, which could see an abatement notice served against the company.
Should this happen, the council says, the matter could drag on if Triodos appealed.
Stephen Ardley, Waveney’s cabinet member for green environment and operational partnerships, said: “This is undoubtedly a very distressing problem and we’ve kept residents informed throughout, attending every public meeting and giving open, honest and detailed answers to all their questions.
“We are well aware of our obligations and have been working hard to fulfil them in a manner which best serves the interests of the residents of Kessingland.
“We’ll be meeting with legal advisers to decide what our next actions are, based on the evidence we have collected so far and we may well take the decision to serve an abatement notice on the turbine owners.
“We’ve also remained in regular discussions with the turbines’ owners to seek a solution, while bearing in mind that any enforcement action we take will undoubtedly lead to an appeal which will not resolve the matter.”
The council says the ongoing noise problem may be down to a phenomenon called “amplitude modulation” – the swish and thump of the turbines blades – which can result in wide fluctuations in noise over short periods.
However, Waveney concedes that in the event of a court battle, Triodos could use the “best practical means defence” by showing it has invested a “lot of effort and money” trying to resolve the problem; highlighting the significant financial consequences; and stressing there were still doubts surrounding research into the effects of amplitude modulation.
Calling for action Mr Blizzard said: “People are experiencing unacceptable levels of noise on three or four days a week on average. Some just can’t sleep at night.
“Waveney’s environmental health officers have visited properties, witnessed the noise and told residents it does represent a statutory nuisance but still no enforcement action has been served on Triodos. That is not good enough.”
In March, Triodos activated sound management modules on the turbines after installing them voluntarily. These can change the way in which the turbines operate in certain weather conditions by changing the angle of their blades to reduce the sound they create,
Triodos says there have only been 37 complaints from 12 households since March.
A spokesman for Triodos said: “We continue to work with the council, residents and other stakeholders to understand and mitigate any concerns.
“From the very beginning Triodos has been very proactive in engaging with residents, both on a group basis and more recently on an individual basis.”
Last summer, the council determined the turbines were a statutory nuisance on one occasion.