A report by ClimateXChange claims to increase understanding of how to better predict and mitigate visual, shadow flicker and noise impacts of new wind farm developments.
The report, released last Thursday, presents the findings of a two-year study reviewing ten wind farms from across Scotland, comparing the impacts predicted before development to those evident once the wind farm is operational and the Little Raith facility south of Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly, was part of the survey.
But while James Glen, of Lochgelly community website Loch of Shining Waters, described it ‘as a start’ he felt it fell some way short.
The study finds the majority of assessments presented at planning stage for the ten case study wind farms followed visual, shadow flicker and noise guidelines that applied at the time. It identifies improvements in planning guidance and good practice that have been made more recently. The study also highlights a range of further improvements that could ensure a more consistent approach to predicting, measuring and documenting visual, shadow flicker and noise impacts throughout the design and operation of wind farms.
As the first of its kind in the UK, the study extends understanding of how local residents experience wind farms. The report makes a number of recommendations for better guidance on how to predict and mitigate impacts, and suggests there is a need to present expected impacts to residents in a more meaningful way.
James Glen, of community website Loch of Shining Waters, said, “The report is certainly a start, and although it highlights some rightful criticism towards wind developments, it is a long way off from getting to grips with the impacts wind farms are having on a majority of communities.
“We are very concerned that the data from Little Raith and other wind farms have not been presented individually and will not be made publicly available. This allows the study to hide and downplay how badly and how widely the turbines at Little Raith have affected local residents. We can only assume that the steering group caved into pressure from Scottish Renewables and RenewablesUK to protect the commercial interests of wind farm operators. But this has been at the expense of local communities like Lochgelly which are being exposed to adverse noise and shadow flicker impacts from turbines and are not being given the protection they need”.
He added, “For too long, decision-makers on wind farms have been asked to determine applications while blind-folded about the true impacts of placing enormous industrial machines near people’s homes. Residents gave up their time to respond to this survey, and I am sure some hoped that it would deliver some redress for them after local representatives have ignored their plight for years. Unfortunately this study will disappoint them.
“Whilst this decision will provide some comfort for residents, another major development has been proposed for turbines at Lochore Meadows, again in close proximity to homes in Lochgelly. We are currently engaging with residents in Lochgelly on this proposal and will determine the community council response accordingly.”
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