Wind-farm noise 'harms health'

Report suggests illness link and says: Keep away from homes Simon Bristow A STUDY of noise generated by wind farms has found they can cause significant health problems, including stress, anxiety and depression.

The report on the study also highlights a possible link between low-frequency noise of the type transmitted by wind farms and a rare condition called vibroacoustic disease – a complex illness that can lead to epilepsy and cancer.

But the report, commiss-ioned by the UK Noise Assoc-iation, is not opposed to wind farms, instead recommending that they should not be sited within a mile of residential areas.

"It would be a mistake to see this as an anti-wind farm report," its author, John Stewart, said.

"But there is a real danger that, in the enthusiasm to embrace clean technology, legitimate concerns about noise are being brushed aside."

Mr Stewart carried out a comprehensive review of research done into wind- farm noise.

In his conclusion he writes: "Research by doctors has unearthed persistent complaints from people saying they not only hear the noise but can 'feel' disturbance in their bodies. This has led to complaints of illness. The symptoms are very similar to those associated with vibro-acoustic disease.

"The suggestion is that the unique combination of noise (containing an element of low frequency) and the strobing effects of the flickering blades is having a physical effect on some people."

Mr Stewart says the noise can be a particular problem in rural areas where background noise levels are low.

The report calls for a "constructive discussion" on the issue with the wind power industry and recommends that Government guidelines on the siting of wind farms are revised.

The report has been welcomed by campaigners concerned about plans to build a series of wind farms across the region.

Planning applications have been submitted for turbines to be erected at sites including Goole Fields, Roos, Twin Rivers and Pollington, in the East Riding, Rusholme, in Selby, Normanby and Keadby, in North Lincolnshire, at Thorne in South Yorkshire and at Todmorden Moor in the West Riding.

Cherie Blenkin, spokeswoman for South Holderness Opposes Wind Turbines (SHOWT), said: "We are not against renewable energy but the siting of these turbines is a critical issue.

"We have said for some time that siting turbines close to people's homes can be an invasion of privacy. It's not just noise, but blade flicker as well that concerns us. They have to take this into account."

Ann Walker, spokeswoman for Humberhead Against Turbines (HAT), an umbrella organisation representing bodies in East and South Yorkshire, called for more research into the noise issue.

"We have been saying that there isn't enough research into the effect of noise from wind turbines," she said.

"It's very much the case that the people who live close to them have become guinea pigs through no fault of their own.

"These things are put up before we know fully what their effects will be."

A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman said developers were obliged to consider the impact of turbines as part of the planning process.

He said: "The Government is committed to the development of cleaner energy and we outlined plans in the recently published energy review to have 20 per cent of electricity coming from renewable sources by 2020.

"Much of this will be produced by wind farms, both on and offshore. However, we are aware of some concerns on noise but there is a robust planning system in place which requires developers to make an environmental impact assessment examining issues such as this."

simon.bristow@ypn.co.uk

YOUR VIEWS

Jean-Bernard Brisset, Courson: "This sort of argument has been said of every step forwards in technology (railways, Electricity, Channel Tunnel etc...). What surprises me is why these people who seem to be opposed to any source of energy have never protested against the worst invention ever: television with all its terrible effects on human intellect."

Ron Mattmer, Owen Sound (canada): "What's so "green" and sustainable about wind farms when they make people sick. Wildlife with more sensitive hearing must enjoy the whine of the machines and thumping of the blades 24/7/365. Who's doing studies on effects on the wee animals who have little habitat as is? If we are going to ignore the enviromental effects, then burning tires is also green and sustainable."