A judicial review has decided not to alter plans to measure noise at a hugely controversial wind farm, which is set to become the third biggest in the Westcountry.
Permission was granted for nine turbines in the Den Brook Valley, near Crediton, 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 developer 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 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 were “shocked and dismayed” at what they saw as a watering down of planning conditions for controlling the excess noise. He said locals were “at significant risk and claimed developers were trying to “brush the issue under the carpet”.
“This scheme that has been 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, was “pleased that the judge has dismissed this attempt to cause delay”.
He said that work had already started on site.
“We are delighted that the judge has entirely vindicated West Devon Borough Council and its 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 said the council 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.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding