Settlement in U.K. Sheds Little Light on Wind Turbine Noise Issues

A couple in the United Kingdom has settled a lawsuit against wind farm owners claiming their lives were severely disrupted by the noise from the nearby turbines. The terms of the settlement are "strictly confidential," according to the Telegraph, meaning that this case won't provide much insight into the ongoing issues surrounding wind turbine noise.

The couple, who lived on a farm in Deeping St. Nicholas, about 100 miles north of London, complained of an "unbearable hum" from the turbines installed in 2006. They were seeking damages and compensation for their home and farm that they said lowered dramatically in value due to the noise. The settlement terms will remain sealed.

Noise complaints have dogged wind developers in a number of locations over the years, with conflicting data on exactly how loud turbines can be and how damaging the noise is to human health. A study commissioned by the American Wind Energy Association found no problems with noise, but groups opposed to wind power such as the Industrial Wind Action Group are vehement in their claims of noise-related problems.

One independent study by the Department of Energy published in December 2009 concluded that property values are unaffected nearby turbines for reasons including noise. A Minnesota Department of Health report, also from 2009, noted that decibel restrictions overlook some low-frequency noise from turbines that can affect people, especially indoors while sleeping.

Generally, it seems the noise issues don't travel past about half a mile or so, so simply building wind farms a bit away from residences might negate these issues from cropping up. Of course, that isn't always possible, especially in densely populated countries, so it seems unlikely that turbine noise complains will disappear any time soon.

(Image via Dave Rogers/Flickr)

 

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