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Judge backs council move to accept wind farm noise monitoring

A judicial review has failed to alter plans to measure noise at a hugely controversial and yet-to-be-built wind farm, which is set to become the third biggest in the Westcountry when finished.

Permission was granted for nine turbines in the Den Brook Valley, near Crediton, back in 2009, but the facility remains on the drawing board due to concerns over noise pollution.

The scheme has already been the subject of two public inquiries and a recent ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority on “exaggerated” claims by developers RES over its advertised output.

Last week the High Court in Bristol ruled that West Devon Borough Council acted legally in accepting a formula devised for measuring noise generated as the rotor blades rotate through varying wind speeds, so-called “wind shear”.

The Den Brook Judicial Review Group claim argued that the complex analysis, developed by RES with the Institute of Sound and Vibration, fails to accurately gauge the levels of noise.

Mike Hulme, a leading member whose home is less than a mile away from the nearest proposed turbine, said residents are “shocked and dismayed” at what they see as a watering down of planning conditions for controlling the excess noise.

He said locals are “at significant risk and claimed developers were trying to brush the issue “under the carpet”.

“This scheme they have devised undermines the planning condition and will allow more noise,” he added.

The court only considered the council’s procedures for discharging a condition imposed by the Planning Inspectorate which required RES to show how it would measure noise, not the scheme itself.

The company says it was devised to filter out background noise – such as dogs barking – which could skew the results.

Jon Knight, RES project manager, said he was “pleased that the judge has dismissed this attempt to cause delay”.

He added that work has already started on site.

“We are delighted that the judge has entirely vindicated West Devon Borough Council and their officers, who have worked so hard to find a practical and reliable means of measuring noise at the wind farm,” he added.

The Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) said the council has had allowed RES to “undermine the perfectly sensible noise condition”.

Dr Lee Moroney, REF principal analyst, said it would permit more blade noise.

“Unfortunately, the monitoring scheme offered by the wind farm developer was so complex and mathematically obscure that the local authority missed the hidden implications, which are unfortunately bad for those living around the site,” she added.

“To be blunt, it is obvious that if you let wind farm developers write their own noise conditions, the turbine neighbours are going to get the rough end of the stick.”