Are the planning and consenting processes for onshore wind farm developments equitable and based on the best and most recent evidence, or are they based on old assumptions and biased in favour of the developers?
You would think that noise was not an issue for turbines on a hill. So does the developer RES. Here’s a map of the developer’s modelled noise footprint created by the turbines, using conventional mapping techniques, superimposed on the map of houses from newsletter 4 which was about hydrology. The small red icons are the sites where the background noise is being measured.
And here is what we discovered just by looking (Louis worked hard on this).
The guidance for the assessment and rating of noise from wind farms (ETSU – R – 97), developed and published in the late 1990s, and it’s subsequent 2013 update (a good practice guide for it’s application) were written, largely, by the wind farm industry (including the technical manager of RES, the developer of the HoF proposal).
The former UK government department BEIS, co-funded by the Scottish government, sponsored a review of the guidance by an independent consultancy WPS (www.wsp.com/en-gb/insights/wind-turbine-noise-report) which was released to the public in February this year.
It stated that the ETSU-R-97 noise limits are based on outdated or insubstantial evidence and that it does not adequately address the adverse impact of Amplitude Modulation (AM), the whoosh/thump sound, which increases noise annoyance and is an expected characteristic of wind turbine sound emissions; even the method of measuring the background noise levels, happening on the Hill of Fare at the moment, is questionable.
The Scottish Government, when asked in a Parliamentary Question (S6W-15610) from local MSP Alexander Burnett, whether it will update its guidance on noise limits and AM, as recommended in the WSP report, responded that “until such time as new guidance is produced ETSU-R-97 should continue to be followed by applicants and used to assess and rate noise from wind energy developments”.
There are a number of legal actions and noise complaints against wind farms in Aberdeenshire and across the UK, demonstrating that the planning process does not work properly, if it did, surely there would be none?
When the ECU and/or the Recorder review the noise impact assessments, supplied by the developer, any determination, including planning conditions, will be based on outdated science, be inadequate and inequitable. This is unacceptable for communities subjected to wind turbine noise from onshore wind turbines.
So, spare a thought and have some empathy for those in our community who live within “hearing” distance of these machines and ask yourself ‘is the process fair or unfair?’