Noise and Light Pollution

Annex – Noise and Light Pollution

 

 

The Addendum to the Ayrshire Joint Structure Plan Technical Report TR03/2006 Guidance on the Location of Windfarms within Ayrshire (“the Addendum”) acknowledges that amenity and quality of life are key assets contributing significantly to the attractiveness and economic potential of the area.

 

It states “ Windfarms have the potential to create significant long term adverse impacts on the amenity of an area or health, well being and quality of life of people living and working nearby. Visually, within 2km, wind turbines are a prominent feature in an open landscape.  Impacts from noise and shadow flicker can be significantly reduced by distance and the introduction of appropriate safeguarding zones. The purpose of these zones is to steer developers away from potentially constrained locations. Noise and light pollution can have serious impacts on health and wellbeing. Rather than attempting to mitigate these impacts after development has taken place, it is considered more effective to avoid locating developments in areas where these problems could occur.”

 

In respect of noise pollution it concludes “as a general rule a minimum separation distance of 700m from a dwellinghouse, work place or community facility to a turbine will be required.  Exceptionally if turbines are to be located closer than this, the developer will be require to demonstrate that the impacts are acceptable. Good acoustic design and siteing of turbines is essential to ensure there is no significant increase in ambient noise levels such that it can affect amenity. Properties in the vicinity of a windfarm should not experience noise levels in excess of 35dB(A) under all wind conditions.

 

It further concludes “Development will not generally be supported within 2km of a town or village or within either 700m or a distance of 10 times the turbine rotor blade diameter (whichever is the greater) from an individual dwelling, workplace or community facility unless the developer can demonstrate the impacts are acceptable.”

 

The windfarm development which Ecotricity propose to develop on Straid Farm is within 2km of 36 separate dwelling houses and 16 fixed caravans.  It is within 3.6km of a further 33 separate dwellinghouses. Noise pollution from the proposed windfarm will have a particular and adverse impact on the four dwellinghouses which are closest to it.  Cundry Mains (628m), Currarie (694m), Barchlewan (843m), and Lendal Lodge (880m).

 

These four properties along with others are located to the east of the proposed windfarm development in quiet countryside sheltered from the A77 on the west of the proposed windfarm development which will at times of peak traffic flows have a significantly higher level of background noise.

 

Ecotricity propose to install Enercom E 70 turbines which emit approximately 100dB(A) at 10m from the mast.

 

There is a precedent where Ecotricity were refused consent on appeal for a proposed windfarm development near Wood Farm, Shipham, Norfolk in that case also with Enercon E70 turbines.

 

The appeal was made by Ecotricity under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Breckland District Council who refused consent in January 2005 for a proposed windfarm comprising 2 turbines each with a maximum hub height of 65m and a maximum tip height of 100m.

 

In dismissing the appeal the Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government made some observations that were critical of the approach taken by Ecotricity and give cause to be cautious about how Ecotricity might approach concern regarding noise pollution in the context of the proposed windfarm at Straid Farm.

 

The Inspector, Ruth MacKenzie, opined that “ the background noise measured at Ecotricity’s measurement site is unrepresentative of the background noise at the 3 noise sensitive properties. This is because Ecotricity’s measuring site has the potential to be noisier than the areas used for rest and relaxation at the 3 noise sensitive properties, and its measurement of background noise could therefore be overstated “ She concluded “ Not only do I consider that the Ecotricity’s measurements are unrepresentative, but I am also concerned as to their accuracy.”

 

Consistent with the approach adopted in the Addendum that favours avoiding locating developments in areas where problems with noise pollution could occur rather than relying on mitigation of impacts the Inspector observed “ I accept that it is within my remit to improve the wording of the conditions. The improvements would need to be extensive. In my view, even if I were to make some improvements, the conditions would still be too complex and unwieldy for frequent use. Furthermore I am not sure that future problems in relation to precision and enforceability could be avoided.”

 

The Inspector noted “that other windfarm developers such as Powergen Renewables and Enertag look for separation distances of at least 700m and that ScottishPower’s windfarm site selection policy requires an even greater separation of at least 1000m.” In this context she found it hard to understand why the sites for the proposed turbines particularly the eastern ones, were chosen by Ecotricity in preference to other more distant sites on the same farm; sites which, on the face of it, could have overcome many of the objections about noise. She also expressed surprise that the sites had been chosen without a prior noise study, and that the same sites had been doggedly pursued for 8 years.

 

The report entitled “Noise Radiation From Wind Turbines Installed Near Homes : Effects on Health” published in February 2007 concluded that a safe buffer zone of at least 2km should exist between family dwellings and industrial wind turbines of up to 2MW of installed capacity with greater separation for installed capacity greater than 2MW.