The Westcountry’s biggest onshore wind farm at Fullabrook in North Devon is still operating above permitted noise levels, the district council has said.
In a long-awaited report it was revealed the 22-turbine site had breached noise restrictions at seven out of eight monitoring locations.
The investigation, which was carried out between May 2013 and August 2014, came after changes were made to the Vestas turbines following previous breaches of the conditions.
After news of the most recent failure, North Devon District Council chief executive Mike Mansell gave operators ESB International a deadline of December 19 to detail how they will combat the issue.
Council Leader Brian Greenslade said “This has been a long, drawn out process and we are sorry for the length of time this has taken to get to this stage.
“However, it was important that we pushed for this monitoring to be vigorous, which ultimately reveals the wind farm is breaching noise levels, as set out in the original planning permission.
“We will now be striving to get an outcome from ESB International to make sure these levels are stopped, which in turn should address some of the concerns highlighted by residents.”
The wind farm was installed in 2011 but a condition that monitoring be carried out at five locations has since increased to the 12 properties deemed most affected.
In 2012, analysis of the first set of monitoring results revealed that the assessment had not adequately considered elements of tonal noise, which had been noticed by the council.
From October 2012 to August 2014, further monitoring was carried out to check whether the new implemented measures by the operator had indeed mitigated the breach of noise levels.
Neighbours have repeatedly argued that the permitted maximum of 40 decibels (db) or 5db above background noise is still much too high.
One local described the sound as being like a “tumble drier” and often at its worst on clear winter days.
Responding to the latest report, ESB International said: “The report reveals that further noise mitigation measures are required at some locations and consequently a noise mitigation strategy has been developed and ESB intend to implement this strategy within the next month subject to verification and agreement with NDC.
“ESB acknowledge that this process has taken longer than at first anticipated but it was important to us that the process was thorough and robust so that the resulting noise mitigation strategy will address the issue.
“We note that a letter is issuing from North Devon Council and we will respond as appropriate. ESB is committed to bringing this matter to a conclusion and appreciate the cooperation and patience of residents in the vicinity of Fullabrook Windfarm.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding