Lately I have spent a lot of time interviewing Fairhaven families and neighbors about what it has been like for them to live next to Fairhaven Wind’s two industrial wind turbines.
Because there has been no public hearing or investigation into the more than 450 complaints made by Fairhaven citizens to their Board of Health, many of those neighbors have bravely and courageously consented to be interviewed for the video “Too Close” in which they share what it has been like for them to live next to the turbines.
Human response to turbine noise is complex. Some of the factors that matter include weather, wind speed, wind direction, wind shear and turbulence. It also matters how close to the turbines you live, how high your house is on your lot, how well your house is insulated, where your bedroom is, how sensitive you are to audible and low-frequency noise, how noisy or quiet the interior of your house is, as well as where your house is located within the tree cover.
After spending considerable time in the neighborhoods close to the turbines, there is no question in my mind that houses with the most frequent complaints are located in places that receive the most turbine noise. And having accompanied the Department of Environmental Protection during most of their sound sampling, I have also heard how loud these industrial wind turbines sound when they are turned off and on in the middle of a quiet rural night.
But despite the DEP’s own findings that the turbines exceeded state noise regulations on five out of the 10 nights that they tested, the DEP has recently chosen to support Fairhaven Wind’s proposed mitigation plan. Agents of the state DEP and Clean Energy Center recently argued on behalf of Fairhaven Wind’s plan in closed-door meetings with the town.
These meetings did not include a single turbine neighbor.
Why? Why are the voices of those who have the actual experience of living next door to the wind turbines repeatedly ignored by the developers, the Board of Health and the DEP? And the public?
Why did the DEP back away from its promise to shut down the turbines if they were found to be out of compliance? Why did the Fairhaven Board of Health side with the developers’ so-called mitigation plan without insisting on independent review of the plan? And without investigating a single complaint?
The only reason I can think of for the repeated refusal to listen to the voices of those who are affected is that they are afraid of what they will find out. The truth is out there – but only for those who are brave enough to face it.
Louise Barteau lives in Fairhaven.
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