How the Wind Industry Rigged Noise ‘Rules’ to Destroy Neighbours’ Lives

The Wind Industry: happily destroying neighbours’
ability to sleep under its own ‘rules’ since 1995.


In our timeline post – Three Decades of Wind Industry Deception: A Chronology of a Global Conspiracy of Silence and Subterfuge – we covered the fact that – from 1995 – the wind industry drew together a hand-picked team with a mission to write noise rules with absolutely no relevance to wind turbine noise; and, therefore, of no benefit to wind farm neighbours (with predictable and soul-destroying results). Here’s an extract from it:

The NASA Research

Starting in the early 1980s, a decade’s worth of research was undertaken by NASA into a series of large wind turbines (then being developed by NASA), which included a stellar cast of physicists, meteorologists, geophysicists, seismologists, engineers (both mechanical and acoustic), and psycho-acousticians. Part of that research involved a multidisciplinary effort to identify the causes of complaints made by neighbours in relation to the operation of those turbines: we refer to it as “the NASA research”, which also included work carried out by Neil Kelley.

Some of the key findings of the NASA research into the neighbours’ complaints were that:

“very low frequency” noise generated by NASA’s turbines (which was defined to include “infrasound”) was the cause of the “annoyance” reported by neighbours (“annoyance” being an acoustics term which does not involve emotional responses – ie “antipathy” to the “look” of wind turbines);

the “annoyance” being reported by neighbours included numerous physiological responses, which were described as “sensations”. These “sensations”, which they felt rather than heard, were sensations of “pressure”, “a sense of uneasiness”, “booming or thumping pulsations”. These sensations were at their worst in the bedrooms where they were trying to sleep;

the “very low frequency” noise generated by turbines interacted with, and was amplified by, the complainant’s homes, creating “structural resonances”, whereby low-frequency sound-waves “excited” materials within the home, causing vibration of the home;

the “very low frequency noise” generated by turbines was not “attenuated” by the structure of the homes (ie, sound pressure levels were not significantly reduced inside homes), but, rather, interacted with homes in the manner described above – resulting in higher sound pressure levels at very low frequencies (ie the noise levels recorded were higher inside than outside), causing greater “annoyance” to neighbours, as a result;

the vibration of these homes, caused by turbine generated infrasound, resulted in neighbours perceiving that vibration with their whole bodies (ie “whole body perception”);

the very low-frequency noise generated by NASA’s turbines was replicated in a “house” (a three room structure) during a further study; and was shown to cause “annoyance/displeasure” as a “presence” which participants could “feel” to varying degrees, up to “extremely annoying and uncomfortable”; sensations of “vibration/pressure” and “pulsations”, which participants could also “feel” to varying degrees, up to and including “severe vibration” and “very heavy pulses, booms and thumps”;

the common noise descriptor or weighting, dB(A) (used to measure noise sources such as air-conditioners) was found to be totally inadequate, with almost no significant relationship to the sensations and symptoms being reported; and, was, accordingly found to be the worst possible measure for predicting the level of “annoyance” being reported by neighbours;

a variety of noise descriptors, designed to capture low-frequency noise, showed strong correlations between the noise levels generated and the sensations recorded;

the first of the NASA turbine designs being studied as part of research had its blades down wind from the tower. The second turbine design placed the blades up wind (ie, in front of the tower). The infrasound and low-frequency noise levels generated were not significantly altered as a result. (Modern wind turbines use the “up wind” design);

the homes where people were adversely affected were situated out to as far as 3km from a single turbine;

the propagation distance (ie the distance over which noise travels before it “decays”) is far greater for low-frequency noise and infrasound generated by turbines, than the propagation distance of noise which does not contain sound energy at low frequencies.

In 1987, at a wind power conference in San Francisco, the wind industry was presented with the findings of NASA’s research; and told that these findings meant that dB(A) was an inappropriate method of measuring wind turbine noise, and the impact of that noise on neighbours. It was further told that low-frequency noise and infrasound were the dominant features of wind turbine generated noise, which would cause significant “annoyance” to neighbours.

Independent of, but concurrent with, the NASA research substantial efforts were made in investigating the impacts of infrasound on human health, particularly in relation to effects such as nausea, headaches and vertigo.

In 1985, a study was published (Nussbaum) that established infrasound as the cause of symptoms including: accelerated heart rate; increased respiration; fatigue; dizziness (vertigo); nausea (motion sickness); and headaches, among other things. The study found that certain people were more greatly affected by infrasound than others (ie more serious symptoms and/or sensations were experienced; or were experienced to a greater degree). These differences in response were, among other things, attributed to physiological differences, including differences in the size of the internal passages of the subjects’ ears.

The Wind Industry Cover Up

As the wind industry began to take off in the early 1990s it needed to set noise limits and planning criteria that would not present any obstacle to it in rolling out turbines in quiet rural environments.

The wind industry gathered what became known as the “noise working group” in 1995; a group which then, and thereafter, worked on wind industry noise guidelines.

The result was a document called ETSU-R-97.

That document reads as if the NASA research had never happened as it:

  • excludes any reference to low-frequency noise (the source of the problem shown by the NASA research as the cause of the sensations and symptoms suffered);
  • excludes the noise descriptors and weightings that were found by the NASA research to be the best predictors of the annoyance caused to neighbours, and the sensations and symptoms suffered;
  • relies exclusively on the dB(A) weighting (found to be irrelevant as a consequence of the NASA research);
  • assumes that, in all cases, the sound pressure levels inside neighbouring homes are substantially less than what is recorded outside those homes (entirely to the contrary of the findings made in the NASA research);
  • excludes testing inside homes for noise of any frequency (let alone low-frequency noise);
  • instead, limits noise testing to measurements taken external to homes, using the dB(A) weighting only;
  • established methods by which monitoring equipment can be placed in a way that will simply measure environmental noise (eg “wind in the trees”). In the first instance, these “methods” allow for the placement of monitoring equipment in locations where high levels can be recorded prior to the construction of a wind farm (eg, underneath trees or in bushes). Subsequently, noise level criteria can be met by simply shifting the location of the monitoring equipment (eg, placing them in the open away from trees or bushes).

All of the wind industry noise standards or guidelines which have emerged around the world since then can trace their origins to ETSU-R-97 – think of it as the wind industry’s template for deception.

Over the last decade or so, the wind industry has fought tooth and nail to defend these standards or guidelines. It has resisted all attempts or even suggestions that would:

  • result in standards which include the measurement of low-frequency noise and infrasound;
  • set controls for low-frequency noise and infrasound inside homes;
  • require wind farm operators to cooperate with meaningful noise testing by, for example:
    • shutting turbines on and off in order to distinguish between the noise generated by turbines and environmental noise, such as wind in the trees; or
    • providing operational data, such as wind speed and power output data;

Indeed, whenever these topics are raised by authorities or community groups the wind industry becomes defensive; and even aggressive in response.

Along the way, the wind industry continued to press planning authorities for even higher noise limits than were originally set (in the irrelevant dB(A) measure, of course) – that would permit ever larger turbines to be located ever closer to residential homes; planning authorities and Environmental Protection Agencies willingly obliged.

In South Australia – the first state in Australia to introduce wind farm noise guidelines – its EPA was so obliging to the wind industry, that its 2003 guidelines include the entirely fictional assertion that wind turbines do not produce infrasound at all, the guidelines stating:

Infrasound was a characteristic of some wind turbine models that has been attributed to early designs in which turbine blades were downwind of the main tower. The effect was generated as the blades cut through the turbulence generated around the downwind side of the tower.

Modern designs generally have the blades upwind of the tower. Wind conditions around the blades and improved blade design minimise the generation of the effect. The EPA has consulted the working group and completed an extensive literature search but is not aware of infrasound being present at any modern wind farm site.

The same fiction appears in the current version of the SA EPA wind farm noise guidelines published in 2009.

The wind industry’s efforts to use noise standards to cover up the issue of infrasound, and to obtain ever higher dB(A) noise limits, occurred despite knowing, full well, that low-frequency noise and infrasound was causing harm and distress to wind farm neighbours.

For example, from 2004 onwards, employees and management of Danish turbine manufacturer, Vestas warned that the wind turbine noise guidelines were inadequate in relation to the protection of wind farm neighbours; and, by 2011, knew that greater setback distances were required to avoid problems of precisely the kind being caused; especially in relation to the larger 3MW turbines, which were being rolled out by Vestas from 2010 onwards.

All of the above, and more, is laid out in the timeline.

In an effort to undo the damage done by the wind industry and its pet acoustic consultants, a group of top flight British engineers, acoustic and health experts got together to demonstrate just why the noise ‘rules’ do nothing to protect the sleep and health of neighbours.

Their work was collected and summed up by UK MP, Chris Heaton Harris, as follows.

Chris Heaton-Harris MP for Daventry


I am sponsoring the Independent Noise Working Group (INWG) to produce a Wind Turbine Amplitude Modulation (AM) & Planning Control Study. The aim of the Study is to protect communities and wind turbine neighbours from wind turbine noise amplitude modulation. These INWG investigations seek to assess and determine the true facts behind wind turbine noise AM.  Then, from this assessment, to arrive at a set of recommendations that can be applied to ensure people living near wind turbines can be protected from noise nuisance and adverse health effects.

The good news is that the initial reporting phase of work – which has taken over a year to complete – is now available below. I was pleased to join a group of INWG representatives when they presented their findings to the Minister of State at the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) in mid-October 2015. This report was well received by the Minister.

Responding to the report, a DECC spokesman said the government recognises that turbine noise can be a concern for people living near turbines and said a review has been commissioned which could lead to it being controlled through a new planning condition.

He said: “DECC has recognised that amplitude modulation (AM) noise produced by wind turbines can be a cause of concern for some residents. DECC has appointed an external consultant to review the available evidence on AM, with a view to recommending how excessive AM might be controlled through a planning condition. The INWG’s study will be considered alongside other evidence that is being gathered as part of this review.”

Please get in touch with me for more information.
Chris Heaton-Harris MP
November 2015

What is the Independent Noise Working Group?

The Independent Noise Working Group (INWG) formed during August 2014, is a multi-disciplinary team fully independent of the wind industry supply chain with expertise or access to expertise including acoustics, environmental health (LPA), health & sleep, legal & planning, physics, meteorology, statistics & data analysis. INWG is jointly sponsored by Chris Heaton-Harris MP (Conservative, Daventry) and the National Alliance of Wind Action Groups (NAWAG). The objective of the INWG being to conduct an independent and scientific study into wind turbine noise AM that is able to credibly challenge the methodologies and findings of the Institute of Acoustics (IoA) sponsored AM study published to date. The INWG steering committee consists of:

  • Richard Cowen, LLB: Solicitor specialising in planning then criminal law. Has been actively involved with NAWAG on legal issues including noise and the Den Brook judgment.
  • Richard Cox: Electrical engineer with a career in the power generation industry.
  • Anne Crowther BSc ACA: Chartered Accountant, former venture capitalist and consultant (finance and management accountant), now business owner.
  • Bev Gray: Company Director (Retired) Battery back-up DC power supplies for electricity generation and distribution companies, rail, communication and utility industries.
  • Melvin Grosvenor: Consultant supporting rural communities with wind turbine proposals.  Senior Management & Regulated Finance experience.
  • Mike Hulme: Co-founder of the Den Brook Judicial Review group which along with professional, scientific and legal expertise achieved the unprecedented Den Book AM noise conditions.
  • Trevor Sherman: An international management consultant specialising in senior executive coaching and leadership development training.
  • John Yelland MA DPhil (Oxon) MinstP FIET MIOA: A professional physicist and engineer with experience in acoustics spanning over 40 years.

What are the initial findings from the INWG Research?

The initial research has come up with some dramatic and disturbing findings:

  1. Excessive Amplitude Modulation (EAM) is a Significant Factor. Noise complaints from wind farms are primarily related to a phenomenon called Amplitude Modulation (AM). This is commonly described as a ‘whoomp’, ‘swish’ or ‘beating’ type noise. It is the character of the noise that tends to make AM wind farm noise most intrusive. A recent Scottish study found that at 1-2km from the wind farm, 72% of those suffering audible noise strongly disliked the noise. When it becomes intrusive to people we call it EAM, or Excessive Amplitude Modulation. These noise components are not covered by the ETSU guidelines and we know of only one wind farm planning decision in the UK where a planning condition has been imposed for AM noise (Den Brook, Devon).
  2. There Have Been Decades of Deception. The wind industry has consistently denied the existence of EAM. Our research shows show that EAM is a frequent occurrence potentially affecting all industrial wind turbines, often for long periods of time and most frequently during the night time. A 2014 survey of Local Planning Authorities (LPAs), completed by Chris Heaton-Harris MP (Conservative, Daventry) and analysed by the INWG, shows that not only are incidents of EAM more frequent than the wind industry hitherto has claimed, the progress in resolving them is inconclusive and there are inconsistent approaches to dealing with it across the country.  LPAs in the survey call for guidance on measuring and testing for EAM as well as nationally agreed standards that are consistently applied and provide effective mitigations for it.  There is also anecdotal evidence of a ‘silent majority’ who suffer in silence without knowing how to complain, not wanting to get ‘involved’ or because of a fear of adverse implications; if, for example, they had to disclose any complaint should they wish to sell their house.
  3. Existing Legal Remedies are Found Wanting. We have found that the remedies available for wind farm neighbours affected by turbine noise are not fit for purpose.  Statutory Nuisance has been actively advocated by the wind industry and supported by Planning Inspectors. Evidence however suggests that an Abatement Notice is not an effective control to protect nearby residents from EAM. Others such as private nuisance and similar legal actions have been considered but these place too much risk and burden on residents for a problem not of their making with likely long term adverse financial implications. In addition, there has been a recent trend of secondary operators forming individual shell companies for each wind farm. The impact of this was highlighted in July 2015 when David Davis MP (Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden) introduced a Bill in Parliament with the purpose of requiring wind farm developers to obtain public liability insurance for any nuisance that they may cause to nearby residents. In particular this is aimed at noise nuisance. One of his constituents had a problem with noise from a local wind farm but had found it impossible to sue because the wind farm operator was purely a shell company with very limited assets.
  4. Wind Turbine Noise Adversely Affects Sleep and Health. It is abundantly clear from the evidence examined by a world renowned expert in sleep medicine working with the INWG that wind turbine noise adversely affects sleep and health at the setback distances and noise levels permitted by ETSU. There is no reliable evidence that wind turbines are safe at these distances and noise levels, not a single study. In contrast there is an increasing volume of studies and evidence outlined to the contrary.  There is particular concern for the health of children exposed to excessive wind turbine noise. The inadequate consideration of EAM is a major factor in the failure of ETSU to protect the human population. The denial of this by the wind industry is reminiscent of other health issues in the past. For example, the tobacco industry and the adverse effects of cigarette smoking.
  5. ESTU is Not Fit for Purpose. We show irrefutable evidence to discredit wind industry and government claims that ETSU provides a robust noise assessment methodology.  This conclusion is supported by the recent Northern Ireland Assembly report, January 2015, into wind energy where it recommends, “Review the use of the ETSU-97 guidelines on an urgent basis with a view to adopting more modern and robust guidance for measurement of wind turbine noise, with particular reference to current guidelines from the World Health Organisation”.
  6. We Need an Effective Planning Condition for AM. The wind industry claims that an AM planning condition is not necessary and that the legal remedy of Statutory Nuisance provides adequate protection are thoroughly discredited by the evidence we have published.  Without an AM planning condition there is no effective remedy for wind farm neighbours against excess noise. The relevance of EAM in causing noise complaints has driven the wind industry to ensure that an AM planning condition is not applied as standard planning practice.  The application of an AM planning condition to the Den Brook (Devon) wind farm planning consent during 2009 presented a serious risk to the wind industry of a similar planning condition becoming the standard for future wind farm consents. The wind farm developer for the Den Brook wind farm has gone to enormous effort, at enormous expense, over an 8 year period to ensure first that an AM planning condition is not applied, then to have the applied planning condition removed, and finally to have it sufficiently weakened presumably to ensure it prioritises operation of the wind farm rather than provide the intended protection against EAM.
  7. There is a Lack of True Independence. The wind industry strategy of obfuscation capitalising on the trusted position of the Institute of Acoustics (IoA) as a scientific institution is discussed in our research findings. We find that the IoA through its wind turbine Noise Working Group, and latterly its specialist subgroup the AM Working Group devoted to the study of excess amplitude modulation, have consistently operated for the benefit of the onshore wind industry in the UK and to the detriment of local communities hosting wind turbines.  This is also arguably against both the IoA Code of Ethics and that of the Engineering Council, its governing body.   The effect has been to both obfuscate and hide problems related to wind turbine noise assessment from government and from the Planning Inspectorate.

What are the INWG Recommendations to National Government?

  • Replace ETSU. Replace the use of ETSU, as recommended by the Northern Ireland Assembly report January 2015, with a procedure based on the principles of BS4142: 2014.  This will bring wind turbine noise assessment into line with other industrial noise controls.  New guidance of this type should be formulated in a Code of Practice that sets out a BS4142: 2014 type methodology that reflects noise character and relates impact to the actual background noise level and not an artificial average.
  • Introduce an Effective AM Planning Condition. Based on the experience at Cotton Farm wind farm in Cambridgeshire, where there has been long term professional and independent noise monitoring, we recommend an effective AM planning condition should be part of every wind turbine planning approval unless there is clear evidence it is not needed. For assessing and controlling wind turbine noise AM, it is recommended that:
    • Where wind turbine noise level and character require simultaneous assessment then BS4142:2014 should be used. The rated wind farm noise level should not exceed +10dB above the background noise level.
    • Where only wind turbine noise AM requires assessment then a Den Brook type planning condition should be used.
  • Continuous Noise Monitoring. Continuous noise monitoring of wind turbines should become a standard planning condition for all wind turbine planning approvals as recommended in the Northern Ireland Assembly report, January 2015.  This should be funded by the wind turbine operator but controlled by the Local planning Authority (LPA) with the noise data made openly available to ensure transparency.  The Cotton Farm community noise monitor describes an example of how this can be achieved. See:
  • Further Research into the Impact of Low Frequency Noise. There is a need to commission independent research to measure and determine the impact of low-frequency noise on those residents living in close proximity to individual turbines and wind farms as recommended in the Northern Ireland Assembly report, January 2015.
  • Issues of Ethics, Conflict of Interest & Independence. The government should deal decisively with the ethical issues surrounding the Institute of Acoustics (IoA) wind turbine noise working groups. Government departments should disassociate themselves from the IoA until conflict of interest and ethics issues are resolved and full transparency is restored.

There are a total of 13 work packages in this study. The ones marked with an asterisk (*) are published below. The rest will follow soon.

Work Package 1 (*)

Work Pakage Title: The Fundamentals of Amplitude Modulation of Wind Turbine Noise

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives:

Dr John Yelland investigates the science behind wind turbine noise and amplitude modulation. The objective of WP1 is defined as:To provide a technical description and definition of a characteristic of wind turbine noise that has become known as amplitude modulation and to investigate its measurement, its possible causes and any feasible mitigation.

Work Package 2.1 (*)

Work Package Title: Review of Reference Literature

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives:  Richard Cox presents the results of a review of the available literature on wind turbine noise (WTN).  Over 160 documents are included in the INWG study of amplitude modulation and of these at least 85 documents can be considered technical in content.  This contrasts with the IoA AMWG literature review, which lists a total of just 35 documents.

The objectives of INWG WP 2.1 are defined as:

  • Review the evolution of knowledge regarding WTN and AM;
  • Collate the reference literature relevant to this INWG study and produce a common reference list for the study work packages;
  • Provide a short description of each reference document.

Work Package 2.2 (*)

Work Package Title: AM Evidence Review

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives:

Sarah Large looks primarily for evidence of audible amplitude modulation noise in support of its existence and prevalence.  Amplitude modulation (AM) can be defined as the regular (cyclic) variation in noise level, usually at blade passing frequency, which exhibits a change in the noise character of the wind farm noise as the decibel level rises and falls.

Work Package 3.1 (*)

Work Package Title: Study of Noise and Amplitude Modulation Complaints Received by Local Planning Authorities in England

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives:

Trevor Sherman analyses responses from a survey of local planning authorities (LPAs) to determine the extent of the wind turbine noise problem across England.

The objectives of INWG WP 3.1 are defined as:

  • To quantify the noise and excess amplitude modulation (EAM) complaints received by LPAs in the last five years;
  • To establish how LPAs investigate and mitigate for noise and EAM nuisance and through this determine the guidance they need;
  • To assess the frustrations and ideas coming forward from LPAs and through this determine a way forward.

Work Package 3.2 (*)

Work Package Title: Excessive Amplitude Modulation, Wind Turbine Noise, Sleep and Health

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives:

Dr Christopher Hanning summarizes the effects of Excessive Amplitude Modulation (EAM) on people living close to wind turbines including annoyance, sleep disturbance and health effects through a review of the available health related literature.  His report discusses ETSU’s inability to protect noise sensitive receptors from sleep disruption and therefore harm to their health and in this context to consider the contribution of EAM.

The objective of WP3.2 is defined as:

  • To summarize the effects of Excessive Amplitude Modulation (EAM) on people living close to wind turbines including annoyance, sleep disturbance and health effects through a review of the available health related literature.

Work Package 4 (*)

Work Package Title: Den Brook

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives:

Mike Hulme documents the legal, planning and technical issues surrounding the Den Brook AM planning condition (2009).  This work package details the enormous effort Renewable Energy Systems (RES), the wind farm developer, has gone to over the last 8 years to ensure first that an AM planning condition is not applied, then to have the applied planning condition removed, and finally to have it sufficiently weakened presumably to ensure it prioritises development of the wind farm rather than provides intended protection against EAM.

The objective of WP4 is defined as:

  • To document the legal, planning and technical aspects surrounding the Den Brook AM planning conditions.

Work Package 5A (*) & 5B (*)

Work Package Title: Draft AM Planning Condition

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives:

Sarah Large investigates options for the control of AM.

The objectives of WP5 are defined as:

  • To conduct a review of existing or proposed methods of identifying and controlling EAM.
  • To develop and propose one or more EAM control methods for further testing with the view to use as an EAM planning condition.
  • To ensure that any EAM condition takes account of the psycho-acoustic response as far as practicable and account for other character features associated with AM (e.g. tonality, low frequency noise, impulsivity).

And that the final AM condition should be:

  • Provided in a simple format that can be applied as a standard planning condition that is comprehendible to the lay person.
  • Accompanied by relevant software or guidance notes on its application and use.
  • Must be robust and must prevent AM that has been justifiably complained of and / or is deemed to constitute noise nuisance.

Work Package 6.1 (*) & 6.1A (*)

Work Package Title: Legal Remedies & Supplementary Paper

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives:

Richard Cowen considers the legal issues surrounding wind turbine noise nuisance.

The objectives of WP6.1 are defined as:

  • To assess the legality of the Den Brook Condition relating to EAM following the judgement of the Court of Appeal;
  • To assess the legal appropriateness of other remedies such as Statutory and Private Nuisance that have been recommended since that judgement or may be available to persons affected by EAM;
  • To recommend the most appropriate course of action that will provide legal protection to residents hosting wind farms should EAM occur.

In the Supplementary Paper 6.1A Richard Cowen considers the legal issues for claimants relating to shell companies.

Work Package 6.2 (*)

Work Package Title: Control of AM noise without an AM planning condition using Statutory Nuisance

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives

Bev Gray reviews from a community perspective the practical experiences and causal effects of Statutory Nuisance (SN) laws when used as a means of protection from Excessive Amplitude Modulation (EAM).  This work package compliments WP6.1 – legal review by Richard Cowen.

The objectives of WP6.2 are defined as:

  • Review EAM noise nuisance complaints procedures and the difficulties of applying Statutory Nuisance by local authority officers.
  • Proposals to ensure a more effective method of EAM control than the existing statutory nuisance.

Work Package 7

Work Package Title: Test of the IoA AMWG methodologies

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives

Sarah Large will test the effectiveness of the AM rating methodology currently proposed by the IoA AM Working Group (AMWG) in their consultation document (Irvine April 2015).   The AMWG was set up with the aim of reviewing existing evidence on AM and producing guidance on the assessment of AM. Whilst originally the goal of the group was clearly  to provide a means to assess AM, which could then be included in a ‘standard’ form of planning condition for wind energy development, recent publications released by the IoA AMWG confirm that their scope is now limited to providing a metric for quantifying AM.

Work Package 8 (*)

Work Package Title: Review of IoA AM Study and Methodology

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives

Richard Cox reviews the activities of the Institute of Acoustics and its Noise Working Groups with respect to wind turbine noise amplitude modulation.

Work Package 9 (*)

Work Package Title: The Cotton Farm Monitor Experience

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives

Bev Gray provides a review of a rural community’s experience in setting up and carrying out long term continuous noise monitoring and recording of wind farm noise.

The objective of WP9 is defined as:

•           To document the experience of fighting a wind farm application and the decision to carry out long term noise monitoring by the local community to prove the existence and frequency of noise emanating from a newly built wind farm.

Work Package 10 (*)

Work Package Title: Report Summary

Lead Author & Work Package Objectives

Richard Cox summarises the Study Work Packages and brings forward the INWG’s key finding and recommendations.

Other Docs

Terms of Reference (*) – Sets out the objectives of the Independent Noise Working Group, sponsors, steering committee and the deliverables.

DECC Presentation 1 (*) – Richard Cox’s presentation to the DECC Minister of State at Westminster on 13 October 2015

DECC Presentation 2 (*) – Sarah Large’s presentation to the DECC Minister of State at Westminster on 13 October 2015

IoA Presentation (*) – Richard Cox’s presentation to the Institute of Acoustics conference in Harrogate on 15 October 2015

Chris Heaton-Harris
chris heaton harris
Chris Heaton-Harris: helps unpack 30 years of wind industry deception.

12 thoughts on “How the Wind Industry Rigged Noise ‘Rules’ to Destroy Neighbours’ Lives

  1. A-weighting is a scandal. As a sound technician I’m well aware that A-weighting completely ignores low frequency audio. When I first found out that a-weighting was the industry standard the reason why was IMMEDIATELY apparent to me. And I wasn’t impressed. I’ve visited a handfull of windfarms and the rough measurements of low frequency noise I’ve taken – although they drifted in and out were every bit as loud as they are in a nightclub. In fact it’s worse because the infra-sound (the stuff you can’t hear) simply doesn’t exist in a nightclub.

    One issue that needs a lot more investigation is harmonics. Its obvious to me that a high amplitude low frequency sound is going to create higher frequency harmonics when they interact with houses and these are very audible. For example a 10hz sound (inaudible) will create a 20hz harmonic (can be felt), a 40hz hz harmonic then 80 and 160hz. The last two are very audible.

    This effect is very real. A common example of this well known effect is electrical devices in the home that hum. You usually can’t hear 50hz.when its low amplitude – yet everyone can hear the humming. Why? Its actually the harmonics that you hear at 100hz and 200hz, not the original 50hz.

    The second issue that needs investigating is how infrasound affects the inner ear and sense of balance. Especially in the region between 1-10hz (the area where windfarms make the most noise). There’s no other common machinery that ordinary people interact with that makes high amplitude continuous noise down to these low frequencies and wind farms are new territory in this regard. Some of the symptoms that people experience (fatigue, dizzyness, sleeplessness, headaches) seem far to similar to me to the well known effects of seasickness and this needs to be investigated.

  2. I was disappointed that the role wind shear plays in the deception is not mentioned. The wind industry has promoted the false principle that as the wind increases wind turbine noise, ambient noise is also increased to mask the impact. Preconstruction acoustical studies, leading to permits, typically measure ambient sound as a function of ground level wind speeds. The impact sound from the wind turbines is estimated on the basis that hub-height wind speeds are related to ground level wind by an industry developed multiplier (around 1.5). This practice results in a linear relationship between impact sound and ambient that on paper remains in compliance.

    In practice the relationship between ground level wind and hub-height is related to atmospheric conditions, wind speed, wind direction, time of day, and time of year. NREL studies have documented instances where hub-height wind can exceed levels higher than 8 times ground wind. This is particularly true at night. The simple relationship used by the wind industry is a low number derived to estimate future energy generation that is an integral between minimum and maximum power generation over time. For the purpose of noise impact only the maximum power events count.

    The practice adopted by many regulatory authorities avoid the worst case noise events that occur regularly at night when ground level winds are relatively calm, keeping ambient sound to a minimum, while extreme wind shear conditions, at hub-height, are producing maximum sound levels that easily would exceed most regulations.

    This loophole alone is responsible for a large percentage of the widespread noise complaints that are filed.

  3. For those of us like myself who are trying to perhaps better understand just how sound works, I have found the video link below to be of interest. The initial introduction is very informative. And the music tone at around the 37-8min mark is quite unpleasant!

    A point of interest that occurred to me when watching this was that when we talk, we hear the sound. But we cannot see it!

    Additionally, if we take infrasound for example. Just because we cannot see or hear it, does not mean it isn’t there.

  4. There’s a couple of points which I think render ETSU as a toothless document:

    1) ETSU Disclaimer: (at front of ETSU-R-97)
    “This report was drawn up under the direction of the Noise Working Group. While the information contained in this report is given in good faith, it is issued strictly on the basis that any person or entity relying on it does so entirely at their own risk, and without the benefit of any warranty or commitment whatsoever on the part of the individuals or organisations involved in the report as to the veracity or accuracy of any facts or statements contained in this report. The views and judgements expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of ETSU, the Department of Trade and Industry or any of the other participating organisations.”

    [NOTE by EG: My interpretation is that the Noise working group (NWG) do not guarantee the accuracy of any facts or statements in the ETSU-R-97 document, and that anyone who uses the information contained does so at their own risk. The disclaimer also appears to absolve ETSU and the DTI from any responsibility for the contents of the report.]

    2) ETSU Recommendation – (Introduction on Page 23 in the downloadable PDF document:)
    “The report was drafted in the light of the best information available at the time. However it is acknowledged that as more experience and information become available and as circumstances develop it may become necessary to revise and improve the contents of this report. The Noise Working Group therefore suggests this report and its recommendations are reviewed in two years time. To this end, any comments on the usefulness of the report would be most welcome, including any suggestions for improvement with any supporting evidence where possible.”

    The NWG recommended:
    i) Reviewing the report in 2 years’ time (published in 1996)
    ii) Revising and improving the contents of the document as more experience and information become available

    To my knowledge, ETSU-R-97 has never been reviewed or “improved”. If anyone can confirm that ETSU has never been reviewed, please reply to this post.

  5. The harm infrasound and low frequency noise can inflict is not limited to people living within 3km of an industrial wind (oops …. subsidy) “farm”.

    I know from my wife’s experience, that if you are particularly sensitive to infrasound/ low frequency noise, you will hear them from at least 40km (25 miles) under atmospeheric conditions favourable for transmission of low frequency noise and infrasound … close enough to be annoying and cause stress, but far enough away not to cause symptoms of “wind turbine syndrome”.

    2.5 years ago my wife was ill for over 1 month with vertigo symptoms during a period when infrasound/ low frequency noise was particularly intense. Our nearest wind farm (10 x 110m wind turbines) during that episode was 13km (8.5 miles) away. It also coincided with a 2nd wind farm being commissioned 21km (13 miles) from our home.

    The severity of her illness did not start to diminish until several days after the high pressure system broke, and it took about 2 more weeks for her to regain her health.

  6. Here we go again showing how we know what is needed to be done, but just cannot get our act together to do it until someone else has.
    We are quick to follow all the wrong things and slow to accept we were wrong.
    We rely too much on ‘experts’ who have no actual training or experience in something, we are quick to accept what anyone says if it means no or little work on our part, stumble along grabbing hold of the coat-tails of ignorant people who put themselves up as experts, of people who promise the earth and deliver nothing but dregs – and by the ‘we’ I mean the Governments of all levels in Australia.
    The NASA work has been given to and explained to Members of Parliament, the AMA, NHMRC and others, the cover up by the industry and the meeting where Vesta staff warned of the dangers, but still nothing has been done to stop the torture of citizens of this country, nothing has been done to bring the industry into line, nothing has been done to turn the turbines off – but everything is being done to continue to install them.
    The ACT Government is a disgrace as it is funding this Human Rights catastrophe.
    Where are our leaders – overseas sweet talking with people who also ignore what is glaring them in the face – where are the Human Rights Lawyers – overseas looking after anyone but their own countrymen, where are the Doctors who should be standing up for the right to a healthy life for those suffering – scratching their buttocks waiting for a complicit AMA (their Union), to cut loose from an institution that no longer is solely there to help their members look after their patients but to look after an industry which destroys every thing it comes in contact with, allowing a plague to fester and grow.
    Wake up you sleeping giant, wake up and with clear eyes and head return this country to a place of health, prosperity and joy.


    Imposing in their hundreds,
    Such an army on display,
    Those alien grey metal monsters
    I saw while on my way.
    Aliens on our shores have landed,
    So tall, backs straight and true,
    At night they watch through flashing eyes
    Of red, at me and you.

    Some have scaled the mountains,
    Others near schools and homes,
    Of one thing I am certain,
    Those aliens have no souls.
    No “whispering” from their ranks at all,
    An unearthly sound they make,
    It envelops each and everyone,
    No more can humans take.

    Three giant arms revolving,
    Enveloping all around,
    They’re here to ‘save the planet’,
    The biggest “con” I have found.
    Such hideous tall grey monsters,
    Invade green and pleasant lands,
    To stay for generations,
    Unless the people make a stand.

    These aliens feed on power and wind,
    Without either, they will die,
    They’re NOT environmental friendly,
    They’re for profit, (at a cost), that’s WHY.

  8. Acousticians and members of the medical profession and planning authorities who have been complicit in the fraudulent cover up of the impacts of wind turbines on human beings and animals from ‘noise’ are criminals and must be pursued as such. Freedom of information legislation is one avenue to pursue the information required to have charges laid against these people.

    1. As a person of Electronics Engineering vocation who has had Industrial Wind Turbines put up 5km from my home and did not expect any issues from them, but have experienced 9 different negative health consequences since they became operational: my observations fully concur with what is written here and regulations and procedures in Ontario, Canada.

      The regulations here absolutely appear as if crafted to not detect the most grievous emissions. (Infrasonic)

      Further, when a municipality tried to enact regulations which included infrasound and its characteristics, it was threatened by the very Wind Power Corporations who stand to profit with multi-million dollar lawsuits.

      As we continue to peel back the layers of the Wind Power Onion, we realize and onions smells far better. People should be irate about this.

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