Experts have called for a revamp of the methods used to predict the amount of noise generated by onshore windfarms, saying that the current system of modelling is failing the public.
A study into the visual and aural impact of turbines at ten sites in Scotland found has said that more care should be taken to identify noise issues, and that more consideration should be given to its impact on people living nearby.
The report, carried out by the think tank ClimateXChange, is the first of its kind to compare the predicted effects of windfarm developments to what happened after the banks of turbines were switched on.
It found that Scotland’s wind-powered renewable energy sites met with current planning regulations, but suggested that these should be reviewed to ensure that future developments achieve consistency in future.
Among issues raised by the report was that some assessments and public engagement activities had not adequately prepared residents for the impacts of the operational wind farm, and that the impacts predicted in documents submitted with developers’ planning applications did not always match the reality of the completed project.
Ragne Low, Project Manager for ClimateXChange said: “As the study has focussed on issues relating to the planning process, we are confident that the findings will feed into improved practice in measuring the predicted impacts of proposed wind farms, and in communicating this to decision-makers and those likely to be affected.”
He added that they point to several possible improvements to guidance and good practice, some of which have already been implemented.
Linda Holt, spokesperson for Scotland Against Spin, which campaigns for reform of wind energy policy, said: “This study is the first of its kind in the world to put the the experience of people living near wind farms at its heart. For too long, people who have complained about wind farms have been dismissed as nimbies.
“The recommendations show that the planning system is ill-equipped to address potentially adverse impacts on wind farm neighbours, and we urge the Scottish Government to lose no time in implementing them.”
A Scottish Renewables spokesman said it highlights the high standards of guidance available for windfarm planners.
A Scottish Government spokesman said the study shows improvements have already been made to planning, and it is rigorous and ensures appropriate siting of wind farms.
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