A government review on noise created by wind turbines has been given a lukewarm welcome in the North East, with hopes it could protect residents offset by doubts over its value.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced a review on wind turbine amplitude modulation (AM) – said to be the cause of most complaints relating to wind farm noise – with a view to providing guidance to planning authorities and developers on how appropriate thresholds might be set in planning conditions.
The review has been given a guarded welcome in Northumberland, where noise from turbines has been a regular subject for debate, with hopes it could “result in a better deal for those many people who are affected by noise” but fears its results could be swayed by the interests of developers.
DECC revealed it will be appointing acoustics experts to review the available evidence on turbine amplitude modulation, with a view to providing guidance to planning authorities and developers on how appropriate amplitude modulation thresholds might be set in planning conditions.
The amplitude modulation of the aerodynamic noise from the blades, sometimes referred to as swish or thump, is said to be the cause of many of the complaints in the UK relating to wind farm noise.
The department intends to launch the tendering process to select a suitable acoustic expert to conduct the review in the near future, with the work to conclude in the spring.
Yet news of it has been given a cautious welcome in Northumberland.
Cornhill farmer Andrew Joicey has on three occasions been successful in seeking judicial reviews of Northumberland County Council’s granting of planning permission for a single turbine near Berwick, with the authority having conceded it had erred on noise issues.
Mr Joicey said: “I will be pleased if the ‘independent’ study results in a better deal for those many people who are affected by noise.
“However, having spent a lot of time studying the way in which the wind industry, DECC, and many members of the acoustics profession have colluded in the past, always in the interests of wind developers rather than noise ‘victims,’ I remain extremely cautious.”
Bill Short, from Kirkwhelpington, who has opposed a number of wind farm proposals, told how he had cited amplitude modulation at a public inquiry in 2007, only for an acoustic expert reportedly lined up by DECC for its latest study to claim it does not exist.
He said “Unfortunately this new study is being done by those same noise specialists that initially said it did not exist.
“I do not expect to get a great deal from it.
“What is the point in asking them again to examine the subject? There is better evidence from other countries that it does exist.”
A department spokesperson said: “DECC will be appointing acoustics experts to review the available evidence on wind turbine amplitude modulation, with a view to providing guidance to planning authorities and developers on how appropriate AM thresholds might be set in planning conditions.”