UK: Wind farm noise — a government cover-up

James Delingpole — The Telegraph — December 3, 2013

How good it was seeing wind industry skullduggery exposed on the front page of today’s Telegraph. But there’s plenty more where that came from, I can assure you. The way the noise regulations governing the wind industry have been rigged by vested interests is one of the great public health scandals of our time. Now seems an excellent moment to run, as a guest post, this entry from the Spectator’s Matt Ridley Prize by Richard Cox, David Unwin and Trevor Sherman. It didn’t win but it was, in my view at any rate, a top contender.

 Wind farm noise: why is no one listening?
How Government-approved pseudoscience underpins wind farm noise assessment

Richard Cox, David Unwin and Trevor Sherman

Do wind farms really create a noise nuisance? Can they disturb the sleep of people living close by? Do they cause longer-term ill health? It depends who you talk to. The Government Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) denies a problem exists.

When granting planning permission for a wind farm the Planning Inspectorate relies on a fifteen year old noise assessment methodology known as ETSU-R-97 (ETSU) and we are not aware of them ever turning down an application based solely on its potential to cause noise nuisance. Yet, acoustics expert Mike Stigwood of MAS Environmental, one of the few consultants to act for local authorities and resident groups, is aware of 70 wind farms in the UK causing noise nuisance. However, the wind industry trade association, RenewableUK (RUK) routinely uses its lobbying muscle to divert public and government attention away from the noise issue and, in particular, amplitude modulation (AM), the most intrusive feature of turbine noise and the cause of most noise complaints. So who is standing up for local residents against these powerful forces?

A typical scenario goes something like this. A wind farm is built. Local residents are shocked by the noise they were assured they would not hear. They complain believing there must be a mistake or fault with the turbines. The local Council do not investigate directly. Instead they ask the developer to check for compliance with the conditions laid down when the wind farm was approved. This takes 3-12 months, sometimes longer. The operator can reduce the noise output using various control mechanisms and the Council would have no idea whether this had been done. Regardless, the developer demonstrates compliance with the imposed conditions even though the horrendous noise continues. After a year many complainants have given up, depressed when they realise they are alone fighting a giant with apparently unlimited resources they cannot beat. The Council realises it lacks the financial resources to fight the developer so they tell the complainants that the wind farm complies with the original ETSU noise assessment, so it cannot be a nuisance. The local residents are left to suffer. Why is nobody listening to their distraught voices?  Continue reading full article here…..

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