UK Plan to Ban Noisy Wind Farms

when-is-wind-energy-noise-pollutionNoisy wind farms face ban as ministers launch review into ‘annoying’ sound levels
The Telegraph
Emily Godsen
30 November 2014

Exclusive: Energy department commissions review into disturbance from turbine noise in order to decide when annoyance becomes unacceptable 

Noisy wind farms that disturb local communities could be banned, after ministers launched an unprecedented review into the annoyance they cause.

In the first official admission that wind turbine noise can adversely affect local residents, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has commissioned an independent investigation to assess the levels of sound wind farms produce and the extent of disturbance caused as a result.

Experts from the Institute of Acoustics will conduct the research next year, the Telegraph has learnt, and ministers across Government will then use the data to decide at which point the annoyance officially becomes “unacceptable”.

The review is likely to lead to tighter planning guidance for new wind farms and could force existing wind farm operators to restrict their turbines’ operation to stay within the limits.

It is also likely to open the door to claims for compensation by residents subjected to noise above the official nuisance threshold.

Many residents living near wind farms have complained of noise disturbance, while studies have linked wind turbine noise to poor sleep and mental health.

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 the swishing noise to 43 decibels at night-time for the nearest property but does not deal with the thumping noises, which are a deeper pitch and can be heard at 40 decibels a kilometre away from the turbine.

Residents near some wind farms have likened the noise to a cement-mixer or a shoe stuck in a tumble-dryer.

A source said the new review would consider all types of turbine noise. “Everything is on the table,” they said.

Developers could be forced to use software to adjust the angle of the blades to prevent the thumping being caused at an unacceptably annoying level.

A spokesman for the DECC said: “This review should empower local people to stop disruptive wind farms and make sure local authorities have all the information they need before giving a planning application the green light.”

The review is expected to be completed by June. While the Institute of Acoustics will independently draw up the index of noise annoyance, the decision over what will be deemed an acceptable threshold will be a political decision for the next Government.

The Conservatives have already pledged an effective ban on new onshore wind farms if they win the election, by ending subsidies for those projects that do not already have planning permission. They have also pledged that all future onshore wind farm planning decisions would be determined by local authorities, instead of large projects being deemed nationally significant.

Matthew Hancock, the Conservative energy minister, said: “It’s important that we maximise the potential of domestic energy resources but we must do this in a responsible way. We cannot jeopardise our green and pleasant land.”

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy secretary, has heavily criticised the Conservative plan to ban onshore wind, arguing it would push up consumer bills by forcing the UK to build more expensive types of renewable technologies such as offshore turbines to hit green targets.

Wind industry body Renewable UK said it had already conducted extensive research into the extent of the thumping problem – known as Other Amplitude Modulation – and had devised the ways of tackling it.

Independent research published by the lobby group late last year had helped “to pinpoint when, where and how this sound varies”, Gemma Grimes, the group’s Director of Onshore Renewables said.

“We found that this can be addressed by using computer software to adjust the way turbines operate, changing the angle of the blades to minimise the sound levels.

“We’re hoping that this will now be incorporated within the Institute of Acoustics’ existing Good Practice Guidance document,” she said.

But she said she did not believe the existing guidance on swishing noises would or should be changed. “In this [Institute of Acoustics] guidance, which they published last summer, there was no question of changing the current noise limits, which are rightly very stringent, so we wouldn’t expect any alteration in that when they update the current document,” she said.
The Telegraph

Ever noticed how it’s only the wind industry, its parasites and spin-masters that use the terms “swoosh” and “swishing” to describe the noise produced by their giant fans?

Language abuse like that goes hand-in-glove with the same kind of corporate subterfuge that has given us lines about the noise from turbines being quieter than a refrigerator 500m away and as soothing as waves lapping on a moonlit beach (see our post here).

Funny, though, that those forced to live anywhere near these things never talk about “swishing” and, instead, use a raft of terms pulled from the darker reaches of our lexicon: “roaring”; “thumping”; “grinding”; “whining” – and phrases like “a truck rumbling down the road but never arriving”; “a jet plane overhead that never lands”; and – as appears in the piece above: “a cement-mixer” or “a shoe stuck in a tumble-dryer”.

It’s like the wind industry’s spruikers have never spent a night trying desperately to sleep anywhere near their masters’ monsters. Funny about that, too.

To give them a clue – and to help you decide on whether it’s the impacted neighbours’ choice of language that better describes the racket – here’s a couple of videos of these things in action. Take a listen and see what you think:




STT particularly loves the second video – where a wind power outfit’s lawyer is telling a planning panel that “noise isn’t going to be an issue of concern” and compares the noise that would be produced by his client’s turbines with “a quiet library” and “an average home”. Hmmm …

STT also loves the claims by wind industry spin kings, Renewable UK that – when it comes to the thumping noise complained of by neighbours – like the Bob the Builder – it can fix most everything. Which begs the question, why is the “thumping” noise a problem at all?

bob the builder

So, these things are thumping the neighbours. Can we fix it? I doubt it.

But the argument about “fixing” the “thumping” noise is a typical red-herring response to the real and underlying problem: the incessant (and, therefore, grindingly annoying) nature of the low-frequency noise and infrasound emitted – where the former is audible and the latter isn’t, but operates on the auditory and other sensory systems to disturb sleep; with both combining to cause long-term sleep deprivation and other adverse health effects, as crack Professor Alec Salt explains in simple terms in this video – and as covered in our post here.



turbine collapse 9

There, that fixed it: a final, welcome “thumping” noise …

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    Too many times we here about such reviews, why not do the research instead – independent of the industry and those aligned with it.
    Reviews are just that, reviews of things written previously, things written by the industry or its acolytes, things written about other forms of noise emitting things, things written by honest researchers who did not have the knowledge of IFLF re these things in part because the industry does not include it in their promotional blurb.
    Those research papers written by independent knowledgeable people are generally ignored or not taken seriously because of a wealth of poor, ill-informed, inadequate and biased rot out there ready to cloud the truth when reviews are assessed on numbers of papers pushing an agenda rather than the quality and independence of them.
    It would be great if we could be confident this review panel would be completely independent with the capability of assessing the information put to it in relation to the facts of modern Wind Turbines, and be able to find their way through the slick marketing/sales techniques undertaken by the industry and plethora of tables and graphs created/designed from biased research, but most of all if they would listen with an open compassionate mind to the concerns and complaints of those reporting adverse health effects.
    But can we be confident?

  2. Melissa Ware says:

    I don’t know how many other people are out there being impacted in the same way as David, the numbers are sadly and expectedly growing with each physically impacting turbine being built near homes. When you can’t sleep due to the many and varied wind farm impacts, destructive thoughts enter as to how you may remove the ‘noise’, children just want to ‘blow’ them up and adults want them NOT turned off but removed. It’s not the same level of annoyance as from a dripping tap or from traffic or predictable flight path noise, it is a nightmare of variables that you just cannot turn off. You can’t plug your ears, you can’t turn down the volume and you can’t stop the bombardment of physical, emotional or mental sensations that arise from industrial broadband emissions.

    When you can’t fix the problem how then do you resolve the destructive feelings? Do we overeat, drink too much, hurt ourselves or sink into depressive feelings, do we have PTSD? We are rural men and women that are being driven to the edge of a cliff from these horrendous and literally frightening conditions. Health studies on the ground and in our homes are overdue and it up to the authorities to do their duty and protect us from wind farm harm. Take heed of the Waubra Foundation statements and notifications and retract the AMA statement that there are no health effects near wind farms. It’s harder to be irresponsible than responsible. Stop negating us, stop telling us the emissions and harm is all in our minds and start acting; start with the 7 recommendations made by the Senate Inquiry into wind farms in 2011.

    • Jackie Rovenksy says:

      Melissa, you David and others deserve better than you are receiving from those elected and/or trained to look after your welfare and to protect humans from harm, yet you are treated with disdain and brushed aside as if you are some inanimate object to be removed to make way for ideological theories and/or money making industries irrespective of the damage these theories and industries can do. There is more notice taken of the environmental damage they cause – and the notice they take of that is little enough.
      If those given the job of protecting you and others fail in their duty of care then they should be driven out, they should be charged with neglect and put where they can do no further harm.
      We welcome the day you will be able to live in peace once again, the day you can begin to recover from the physical and emotional harm they have put you under, and we give you our support and hope if nothing else this will give you knowledge that there are those who do care what happens to you. And we will keep fighting for the day we can all ‘down tools’ and shut the door on this industry and its supporters for them never to enter our lives again.

  3. Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    About time.

  4. UK going to shut down noisy wind farms? That means all the fans on the land in the UK will be shut down, HA HA, what a joke. The UK goverment would not have the balls to do that.

    I bet they won’t step up to the challange.

  5. Thanks STT for your concise and accurate analysis.

    One can only be skeptical however of the independance of the Institute of Acoustics. A government in collusion with a corrupt industry does not commission a review it does not know the answer to where kickbacks are at stake, and members of acoustic institutes are deeply embedded within wind industry ranks internationally.

    Amplitute modulation is certainly an issue, but why does the IOA continue to ignore low frequency noise and infra-sound causing adverse health impacts? The dose-response cause-effect relationship of wind turbine low frequency noise and infrasound to adverse human impacts was proven in the published scientific peer reviewed Kelley/NASA research of the 1980’s. It has been studiously ignored by the IOA and the international wind industry ever ever since. They changed their turbine design to an upwind configuration, falsely claiming ‘problem solved’, and are now paying the price for their systematic and strategic dishonesty and deception .

    Furthermore, arcane definitions of ‘annoyance’ which shift much like the wind are rather suited to those acousticians prostituting themselves to the wind industry. This so called ‘review’ is clearly a sham.

    Let’s hope the members of the IOA have sound professional indemnity insurance. The time is coming when they will be needing to call on it.

  6. David Mortimer says:

    It is such a pity that you can’t show a “video” of the Infra and low frequency sound that we sufferers have to put up with on a daily basis.
    Sure, the audible blade noise is annoying but it doesn’t come near the rodeo that we have going on inside our head when inside our homes and out buildings.
    There are times (often) when I feel like doing something serious (permanent) to the perpetrators of the wind lie and their complicit politicians.
    For the last week or more, the wind has been blowing to greater and lesser degrees directly from the turbines 2.5 km away.
    Evenings in our home in these conditions are horrendous.
    At first, the sensation appears mild and one thinks “I can put up with it”, but it is incessant and once again sleep is elusive, disturbed and nowhere near enough and always wake in the morning feeling like we need another night’s real sleep NOW!
    I swear, I could …….but it would be illegal.

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