The Sunday Telegraph
Wind farms can harm sleep
LIVING near a wind farm can result in lost sleep, stress and anxiety, according to an official review.
The Government report, which concluded that the turbines can cause “significant annoyance” to communities, will put pressure on ministers to close down the noisiest wind farms.
It recommends tighter controls on future projects to avoid “excessive” noise, such as potentially changing the shape of blades or even forcing companies to “switch off one or more turbines” when noise reaches unacceptable levels.
Residents who suffer noise above the official nuisance threshold could now consider making a claim for compensation.
The sound from wind farms has been compared by residents to a cementmixer or a shoe stuck in a tumble-dryer. Studies have suggested the noise is linked with poor sleep and mental health problems.
NOISY wind farms can cause people living nearby to suffer stress, anxiety and lost sleep, an official review has concluded in findings that increase pressure on ministers to shut down the worst offenders.
An influential government review has for the first time decided that there is “strong evidence” that wind farms can cause “significant annoyance” to local communities.
It recommends tighter controls on future projects and for companies to alter the shape of blades if they produce “excessive” noise. The report also says operators should be forced to “switch off one or more turbines” during periods of unacceptable noise if other measures are not available.
Tory critics jumped on the findings to demand the Government shuts down noisy wind farms, which they say are “blighting” communities.
It will raise questions about why ministers in successive governments have effectively fuelled the growth in wind farms through billions of pounds of subsidies. The review could open the door to claims for compensation by residents subjected to noise above the official nuisance threshold.
Glyn Davies, Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, said: “Where there are noisy wind farms they are hugely disruptive. Noisy wind farms should be shut down unless they can be changed. They would need to be shut down permanently. I know people who have moved and a lot of others who can’t move because they can’t find people to buy their properties.”
Many residents living near wind farms have complained of noise disturbance, while studies have linked wind turbine noise to poor sleep and mental health problems.
As well as the routine “swishing” noise of the blades spinning, turbines can sometimes produce “thumping” noises when sudden variations in the wind speed cause the blades to stall.
Current planning guidance limits noise to 43 decibels at night-time for the nearest property, but does not deal with thumping noises, which are a deeper pitch and can be heard more than half a mile from the turbine.
Residents near some wind farms have likened the noise to a cement-mixer or a shoe stuck in a tumble-dryer.
The review, commissioned by the then Department for Energy and Climate Change and marked “confidential”, was completed in August last year but only published last week.
It says that here is “strong evidence” that living near a noisy wind farm can cause “increased annoyance” in local communities, compounding concerns about farms’ “appearance in the landscape”. It also says there is further evidence that wind turbines can contribute to “increased risk of sleep disturbance”.
But the Renewable Energy Foundation, which campaigns against wind farms, said the proposed planning condition is not strong enough and does not “oblige” developers to limit noise.