Molesworth Wind Farm Action Group
Say NO to the Molesworth Wind Farm - Bythorn, Molesworth, Keyston, Brington, Clopton, Old Weston, Titchmarsh, Catworth, Leighton Bromswold
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Grounds for Objection - Noise Impact

The proposed development fails to minimise the increase in ambient noise levels contrary to PPS22 Renewable Energy, Planning for Renewable Energy, A Companion Guide to PPS22.

1. The proposed site layout places 6 turbines in relatively close proximity to each other. Close turbine spacing is believed to be one of the possible causes of increased or Enhanced Amplitude Modulated Noise (EAM Noise). Turbines T1, T2 and T6 are located relatively close to trees. Trees are also known to cause turbulence and possibly increased wind shear which is also thought to be a possible cause of EAM Noise. The proposed development therefore fails to minimise increases in ambient noise levels contrary to PPS22 Renewable Energy, Planning for Renewable Energy, A Companion Guide to PPS22.

Note: This issue can be addressed by a planning condition. However the Appeal Officer in the Den Brooke Wind Farm case accepted that the issue of EAM Noise is not fully addressed by government guidance ETSU-R-97. In other words compliance with ETSU-R-97 alone is not sufficient to protect residents from EAM Noise. In that case a precautionary planning condition was imposed to protect residents should EAM noise occur.

It is essential that we ask for a similar planning condition to protect nearby residents from the possibility of EAM Noise from this development should the development be approved.

If such a planning condition is unacceptable to the developer the proposed development must be rejected.

2. The site plan includes an area of land to the North East that appears to have space for an additional turbine, possibly two turbines. There appears to be no reason why T6 (the nearest to houses in Molesworth) could not be moved to this location. This would appear to reduce the overall noise potential noise impact of the proposal. Therefore the currently proposed layout fails to minimise the increase in ambient noise levels contrary to PPS22 Renewable Energy, Planning for Renewable Energy, A Companion Guide to PPS22.

3. The village of Bythorn is located close to the A14 and as a result suffers from traffic noise when the wind is from the south. Respite is provided at night when traffic levels reduce and when the wind is from the north. The proposed development located to the north of Bythorn will increase noise levels in Bythorn when the wind is from the north and at night. Even if the proposed development meets ETSU-R-97, the cumulative impact will mean that the overall duration of noise levels experienced will unduly damage the highly valued "tranquillity" of the area (as identified in Wind Turbine Development in Huntingdonshire).

Background

Most wind farms are quiet, but not all and not all the time. In 2010 the Daily Telegraph reported that 1 in 6 wind farms have noise complaints and The Welsh Affairs Select Committee investigated wind farms and concluded:

"For existing wind farms we are satisfied that there are cases of individuals being subject to near-continuous noise during the operation of the turbines, at levels which do not constitute a statutory nuisance or exceed planning conditions, but which are clearly disturbing, unpleasant and may have some psychological effects."

The government provides guidance on how much noise a wind farm is allowed to produce in ETSU-R-97. This guidance is considered by experts to be out of date at best and some consider it "laughable". See "ETSU-R-97 Why it is Wrong" by Dick Bowdler.

ETSU-R-97 is complex but in short it allows wind farms to generate 40dB(A) in the daytime or 43dB(A) at night.

A study published by in 2004 by Eja Pedersena and Kerstin Persson Waye found that 30% of people subjected to 40dB(A) from a wind farm would be "Highly Annoyed".

Amplitude Modulated Noise

Under certain conditions it is possible for a wind farm to produce a type of noise, called "Amplitude Modulated Noise" at higher levels than the developer or government guidance predicts. This type of noise is believed to account for some noise complaints at distances of several kilometres. The causes of "Amplitude Modulated Noise" (EAM Noise) are still being researched but are believed to include:

  • Turbine spacing - If too close together one turbine may operate in the wake of others.
  • Increased wind shear - a difference in wind speed between the top and bottom of the rotor. Wind shear can be increased by terrain or by forestry.
  • Turbulence - caused by trees or undulating terrain.

The importance of adequate turbine spacing cannot be under estimated. At Deeping St Nicholas Wind farm (the subject of a noise case in the High Court) the average turbine spacing is believed to be around 4.4 rotor diameters and the complainant lives 930m away from the nearest turbine.

The average turbine separation distance for this proposal appears to be about 5.4 rotor diameters and the nearest resident is just 760m away. In addition several other houses will be within 900m of the nearest turbine.

It is known that the existence of an inversion layer can cause noise to propagate much further than anticipated. However the existence of a stable inversion layer is not a requirement for Enhanced Amplitude Modulated Noise to be created. It only provides a mechanism by which it can be heard at greater distances. The effect is well known to pop concert organisers.

Need for a planning condition

The causes of Amplitude Modulated Noise are still being researched. Not all are well understood. This makes it impossible to prove EAM Noise will occur or disprove that it won't occur.

The Appeal Officer in the Den Brooke Wind Farm case accepted that the issue of EAM Noise is not fully addressed by government guidance ETSU-R-97. In other words compliance with ETSU-R-97 alone is not sufficient to protect residents from EAM Noise. In that case a precautionary planning condition was imposed to protect residents should EAM noise occur. This decision was subsequently upheld by the High Court.

It is essential that a similar planning condition is imposed to protect nearby residents from the possibility of EAM Noise if this development is approved and EAM Noise does occur.

If such a planning condition is not acceptable to the developer the application must be refused.

Sandwich effect

The village of Bythorn is located close to the A14 and as a result suffers from traffic noise when the wind is from the south. Respite is provided at night when traffic levels reduce and when the wind is from the north. The proposed development located to the north of Bythorn will potentially increase noise levels in Bythorn when the wind is from the north and at night when the wind is blowing.

Even if the proposed development meets ETSU-R-97 the cumulative impact will mean that the overall duration of noise levels experienced will unduly damage the "tranquillity" of the area. This is a highly valued feature of the Northern Wolds as confirmed in Wind Turbine Development in Huntingdonshire. The proposed development therefore fails to minimise increases in ambient noise levels contrary to PPS22 Renewable Energy, Planning for Renewable Energy, A Companion Guide to PPS22.

18 November 2017
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    Disclaimer
    Please note that the content of this web site represents the views and opinions of the STOP MOLESWORTH WIND FARM committee and our members. Although we have tried to be as accurate as we can in relaying facts on the subject of this proposed development and the industrial wind industry in general, we cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies found therein. If you believe any content to be incorrect or inaccurate please let us know.

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