Danish High Court Orders Compensation for Wind Turbine Noise Victims

when-is-wind-energy-noise-pollution

In Denmark struggling fan maker Vestas is synonymous with the Danish wind industry.

In Australia, and elsewhere, Vestas went on a propaganda rampage last year with its “Act-on-Facts” campaign aimed at counteracting known and obvious facts (to anyone with half-a-brain – that is) with crackers such as the wind is NOT intermittent; families with young children can’t wait to have a swag of V112s go up in their back yard to help their young ones sleep; power consumers are delighted with paying 4 times the cost of conventional power for wind power; and are even happier to be paying $2,000 per MW/h and over the Moon to be paying $12,500 per MW/h for peaking power when wind power goes AWOL 100s of times each year – instead of the usual $40.

One other “fact” trotted out to excuse the criminal harm caused by Vestas and Co is that wind turbines are quieter than a fridge at 500m.  In the Clean Energy Council version – the furphy asserts that the noise measured at ANY distance from a turbine is the same as that being measured at a distance of 500m FROM an operating refrigerator.  Here’s Matt Warren – formerly of Wind Energy Australia (aka the Clean Energy Council) making it very clear he’s comparing the noise of a giant industrial wind turbine at ANY distance with the noise FROM a fridge at 500m. For a comparison with a fridge at 500m – see our post here.

It seems that Vestas pulls back on the spin in its home territory and claims that the noise from a turbine at a distance of 500m is the same as a fridge (presumably with measurements taken right next to the fridge) (see our post here).

It seems that Danish fridges must be powered by industrial diesel engines, as the Danish High Court has just slammed Vesta’s ludicrous claims about the noise generated by its turbines matching kitchen appliances, in a case brought by affected neighbours.

The Danish High Court ordered that Vesta’s victims were entitled to Dkr 500,000 (A$93,439) in compensation for the substantial reduction in the value of their home, caused by incessant turbine noise: smashing another well-worn wind industry myth that turbines don’t impact on property values.

High Court rules on compensation for noise from wind turbines
International Law Office
Søren Stenderup Jensen
1 September 2014

Legal Denmark

The judgment is significant as it granted compensation after the erection of the wind turbines. This is contrary to the main rule in the Promoting Renewable Energy Act; however, both the city court and the high court found sufficient legal authority under the act to admit the claim after the erection of the wind turbines.

Background

Depending on their location, wind turbines can cause noise, visual interference and light reflections.

These issues are governed by public and private law, including neighbour law. The main rules regarding noise from wind turbines can be found in Executive Order 1284 of December 15 2011 on wind turbine noise, issued pursuant to the Environmental Protection Act. To some extent, the order safeguards neighbours from noise inconvenience by establishing maximum noise levels from wind turbines in outdoor areas. The noise limit varies depending on the surroundings.

Wind turbines may also cause visual interference which may negatively affect the value of surrounding properties. Thus, the location of wind turbines on land has proved a difficult political issue for years. Every municipality supports the idea of more wind turbines – just not within its own borders.

In order to promote local support for wind energy projects, the Parliament passed the Promoting Renewable Energy Act, which establishes a compensation scheme for neighbours of wind turbines. Under the scheme, those who build one or more wind turbines are obliged to compensate their neighbours for any reduction in property value that the wind turbines may cause, regardless of whether the wind turbines accord with the necessary permits.

The compensation scheme departs from the court-based neighbour law in that it does not operate with a tolerance limit which the neighbour must prove has been exceeded.

The starting point is that the issue of compensation must be settled before the wind turbines are built. However, the Promoting Renewable Energy Act does allow neighbours to claim compensation in certain circumstances thereafter. The competent authority to deal with claims for compensation is the assessment authority set up by the act.

Compensation granted to neighbours under the act has been relatively low so far.

Facts

In a recent case before the High Court for Western Denmark the plaintiffs had been awarded Dkr250,000 in compensation for the erection of eight wind turbines by the assessment authority. They brought the matter before the courts seeking higher compensation.

Before the erection of the wind turbines, an environmental study had concluded that the noise level at their property would amount to 38.8 decibels at wind speeds of 12 knots and 40.9 decibels at wind speeds of 16 knots.

Before the city court, a court-appointed expert stated that the reduction in the value of the property amounted to between Dkr600,000 and Dkr800,000. The city court also arranged a visit to the property.

Where the assessment authority found that the plaintiffs’ property would be subject to limited noise pollution, the city court found the level to be more significant. The court further ruled that the plaintiffs had documented their loss of value at Dkr600,000 and thus awarded them an additional Dkr350,000.

Finally, the court held that the plaintiffs had suffered no other economic loss covered by the Promoting Renewable Energy Act. In particular, the court held that the fact that the wind turbines had been erected with all necessary permits prevented the plaintiffs from claiming compensation under neighbour rules.

The High Court for Western Denmark upheld the city court’s judgment, but fixed the compensation at Dkr500,000 because, among other things, there were certain deficiencies in the masonry of the house. However, the court also considered the findings of the court-appointed expert witness who had seen the plaintiffs’ house after the erection of the wind turbines – which the assessment authority had not done – as well as the city court’s own observation of the property. Finally, the court ruled that the Promoting Renewable Energy Act does not restrict the courts’ competence to review decisions from the assessment authority.

Comment

The judgment is significant as it granted compensation after the erection of the wind turbines. This is contrary to the main rule in the Promoting Renewable Energy Act; however, both the city court and the high court found sufficient legal authority under the act to admit the claim after the erection of the wind turbines.

Moreover, both courts paid considerable attention to the evaluation of the court-appointed expert. While this is quite normal in Danish case law, it is unusual in cases where an authority such as the assessment authority has previously dealt with the matter.

Finally, the high court paid attention to the city court’s own observations of the property. It is quite unusual to see such a reference to the observations of a lower court in a higher court’s grounds of judgment.

The judgment gives cause for optimism to those who intend to challenge decisions of the assessment authority under the Promoting Renewable Energy Act. From a procedural point of view, it seems to be important for the court to see the property at issue to form its own opinion of the level of noise pollution caused by wind turbines.
International Law Office

Wind energy in Denmark : wind turbines in Holstebro , Westjutland

Not so quiet, after all ….

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. videos:

    eagle hit http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8NAAzBArYdw

    —–

    http://www.thegazette.com/subject/opinion/guest-columnists/industrial-wind-is-destroying-iowas-eagle-habitats-20151227

    Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds of up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/03/12/house-panel-subpoenas-white-house-on-wind-power-eagle-deaths/

    Bob Sallinger with the Audubon Society of Portland said wind farms across the country have killed more than 80 eagles over the last decade.

    “If you have dozens and dozens of them on the landscape it is basically a giant Cuisinart for birds,” said Sallinger. “Bald eagles took decades to recover … we almost lost them because of DDT. Golden eagles are a species biologists are concerned about because they appear to be declining.” http://www.kgw.com/news/Official-Wind–257599781.html

    “Improperly sited and operated wind energy facilities can kill significant numbers of federally protected birds and other species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, urging developers to follow the Service’s Land-based Wind Energy Guidelines. “That’s why it’s imperative that wind energy developers work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to minimize these impacts at every stage in the process.”
    Commercial wind power projects can cause the deaths of federally protected birds in four primary ways: collision with wind turbines, collision with associated meteorological towers, collision with, or electrocution by, associated electrical power facilities, and nest abandonment or behavior avoidance from habitat modification.
    http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/utility-company-sentenced-wyoming-killing-protected-birds-wind-projects-0

    A recent study by federal and state scientists found that U.S. wind turbines could kill up to 1.4 million birds of all species per year by 2030 as the wind energy industry continues to expand. http://www.ibtimes.com/should-wind-turbines-be-allowed-kill-eagles-debate-ratchets-bird-group-lawsuit-1607240

    “Chokecherry and Sierra Madre, the largest onshore wind farm planned in the United States, would annually kill 10 to 14 golden eagles, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service projected in a draft environmental study released Wednesday. That figure represents a substantial reduction from the 46 to 64 golden eagle fatalities estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2012.
    http://trib.com/business/energy/feds-project-reduction-in-eagle-deaths-at-chokecherry-and-sierra/article_d0a88aec-3145-5cd2-8f7f-503b421275b1.html

    ” The U.S. Bureau of Land Management estimated in 2012 that all 1,000 turbines would kill 46-64 golden eagles. The Fish and Wildlife estimate, which applies only to the first phase, takes into consideration measures including wind turbine siting intended to reduce eagle deaths. ” http://www.bcdemocrat.com/2016/04/20/wy-wind-farm-eagles/

    “I estimated 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities/year (including 83,000 raptor fatalities) at 51,630 megawatt (MW) of installed wind-energy capacity in the United States in 2012,” writes K. Shawn Smallwood, author of the study that was published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin. http://dailycaller.com/2015/04/20/wind-turbines-kill-more-birds-than-bp-oil-spill/

    Killing large numbers of eagles and other birds can land a wind farms in court, as happened in 2014 when Portland, Oregon-based PacifiCorp pleaded guilty and was fined $2.5 million for killing 38 golden eagles and 336 other protected birds over five years at a Wyoming wind farm.http://www.wftv.com/news/business/big-wyoming-wind-project-closing-in-on-federal-eagle-permit/474408604

  2. Reblogged this on How Green Is This.

  3. cornwallwindwatch says:

    Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch and commented:
    Are the wheels starting to fall off the “there isn’t a noise issue” bus ?

  4. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    So VESTAS have been exposed as not being able to operate their ‘wands’ (STAVES) properly to prevent problems – maybe they need to go to a witches school to get it right, no wonder they’re seen as characters in a children’s story book.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: