Debate Continues over Controversial Wind Farm Noise Regulations

The debate over government regulations for wind turbines noise should be based more on engineering issues
and robust scientific evidence and less on politics, according to UK professional body, Institute Of
Acoustics.
There has been criticism of the regulations, known officially as ‘ETSU-R-97’, as being outdated and in need
of revision, given they are more than a decade old and are still being used to assess wind farm noise in
local government planning applications in the UK. Opponents variously describe the guidelines as “daft”,
“confusing” and designed for much smaller wind turbines than can now be built.
The IOA, which has more than 3000 members in the fields of acoustics, noise and vibration worldwide, hosted
a Wind Turbine Noise meeting in Cardiff on January 27, with experts referring to the controversial
regulations.
President-elect of the IOA, Trevor Cox, said “it might surprise people to know that the number of complaints
about wind farm noise is actually rather small – maybe evidence that ETSU isn’t working too badly at the
moment”.
“Most, if not all, regulations have some imperfections because they are necessarily drawn up with the
available data at the time. ETSU is no different; it it was being drawn up today, the chances are that
slightly different procedures or criteria might be used. But are substantial changes needed? That is what
the meeting in Cardiff will try to find out.”
Trevor, who is Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford, referred to a presentation at
the the IOA’s recent international Euronoise conference in Edinburgh.
That paper compared the number of people highly annoyed by road traffic noise in the Netherlands to the
number of people likely to be highly annoyed by wind farm noise, if all proposed wind farms for this country
were to be built.
“For every person who might be annoyed by wind farms, there are hundreds more annoyed by roads,” he said.
“We mustn’t forget the potential political ramifications if a decision is made to revise the ETSU
guidelines. Undermining the noise regulations is a useful tactic for campaigners who are trying to stop
planning permission being granted. A revision of the guidelines could be used by campaigners to cast doubt
in the minds of planners.”
The IOA would consider recommendations from experts at the Wind Turbine Noise meeting.
Trevor said that the organisation would “like to see the politics taken out of ETSU so that proper
engineering decisions can be made on the best possible scientific evidence”.
In future, the IOA may call for more research into Aerodynamic Modulation (AM) – the ‘swishing’ noise made
by turbine blades, he said.
“Although complaints due to AM are rare, there are a small number of high profile cases where it has
happened and caused significant problems to a small number of people.
“Currently the causes and treatment of the problem need further research.”
Source British Institute of Acoustics

The debate over British government regulations for wind turbines noise should be based more on engineering issues and robust scientific evidence and less on politics, according to UK professional body, Institute Of Acoustics.

There has been criticism of the regulations, known officially as ‘ETSU-R-97’, as being outdated and in need of revision, given they are more than a decade old and are still being used to assess wind farm noise in local government planning applications in the UK. Opponents variously describe the guidelines as “daft”, “confusing” and designed for much smaller wind turbines than can now be built.

The IOA, which has more than 3000 members in the fields of acoustics, noise and vibration worldwide, hosted a Wind Turbine Noise meeting in Cardiff on January 27, with experts referring to the controversial regulations.

President-elect of the IOA, Trevor Cox, said “it might surprise people to know that the number of complaints about wind farm noise is actually rather small – maybe evidence that ETSU isn’t working too badly at the moment”. “Most, if not all, regulations have some imperfections because they are necessarily drawn up with the available data at the time. ETSU is no different; it it was being drawn up today, the chances are that slightly different procedures or criteria might be used. But are substantial changes needed? That is what the meeting in Cardiff will try to find out.”

Trevor, who is Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford, referred to a presentation at the the IOA’s recent international Euronoise conference in Edinburgh.

That paper compared the number of people highly annoyed by road traffic noise in the Netherlands to the number of people likely to be highly annoyed by wind farm noise, if all proposed wind farms for this country were to be built. “For every person who might be annoyed by wind farms, there are hundreds more annoyed by roads,” he said. “We mustn’t forget the potential political ramifications if a decision is made to revise the ETSU  guidelines. Undermining the noise regulations is a useful tactic for campaigners who are trying to stop planning permission being granted. A revision of the guidelines could be used by campaigners to cast doubt in the minds of planners.”

The IOA would consider recommendations from experts at the Wind Turbine Noise meeting. Trevor said that the organisation would “like to see the politics taken out of ETSU so that proper engineering decisions can be made on the best possible scientific evidence”. In future, the IOA may call for more research into Aerodynamic Modulation (AM) – the ‘swishing’ noise made by turbine blades, he said. “Although complaints due to AM are rare, there are a small number of high profile cases where it has happened and caused significant problems to a small number of people.

“Currently the causes and treatment of the problem need further research.”

Source British Institute of Acoustics

American Researcher Blames Wind Turbine Noise on Vibration

The main cause of wind turbine failure, noise, wear and damage is excessive vibration, according to a
leading American researcher.
Daryoush Allaei spoke about problems associated with the towers at the Institute of Acoustics’ Wind Turbine
Noise meeting at Cardiff, January 27.
“Excess noise has become a growing problem for farmers and those living near wind farms,” said Daryoush,
founder and chief executive officer of Quality Research, Development and Consulting Inc, Chaska, Minnesota.
Historically, rotating and turbine machinery failures have resulted from “blade mistuning, misalignment,
imbalance, resonance, fastener looseness and bearing damages and defects,” he said.
Three of these “root causes” were “responsible for more than eighty percent of excess vibration and noise
and machinery wear, failure and downtime”.
“Wind turbine-generator systems are no exception; they follow the same failure modes,” he said.
Daryoush, who has a Pd.D. in Mechanics, has authored and co-written about ninety national and international
professional articles and was included in the 1992 edition of “Who’s Who Among Rising Young Americans”.
When asked whether wind farm noise could be eliminated, Daryoush replied: “Yes, we have shown we can totally
eliminate the noise and excess vibration coming from the top of the towers”.
“QRDC has been in research development working on noise and vibration of both military and commercial
systems since 1990. We have been very successful. Our methodology relies on managing energy and eliminating
the root causes of noise and vibration in contrast to others who band-aid the problem.”
The company approached wind farm noise in a manner similar to its work in the mining and processing
industry.
“We have managed to fully mitigate the excess vibration and noise from the conventional wind farms by
eliminating the root causes of vibrations, namely turbine blades, gearboxes, generators, power transferring
shafts, bearings.”
“By better understanding the root causes of noise and vibration, one could significantly boost performance,
maintainability and reliability while reducing downtime and catastrophic failures of wind turbine generator
systems that are becoming crucial to meeting the global renewable energy goals,” said Daryoush.
Daryoush was one of seven experts speaking at the IOA’s Wind Turbine Noise conference in Wales.
Source British Institute of Acoustics

The main cause of wind turbine failure, noise, wear and damage is excessive vibration, according to a leading American researcher.

Daryoush Allaei spoke about problems associated with the towers at the Institute of Acoustics’ Wind Turbine Noise meeting at Cardiff, January 27.

“Excess noise has become a growing problem for farmers and those living near wind farms,” said Daryoush, founder and chief executive officer of Quality Research, Development and Consulting Inc, Chaska, Minnesota.

Historically, rotating and turbine machinery failures have resulted from “blade mistuning, misalignment, imbalance, resonance, fastener looseness and bearing damages and defects,” he said. Three of these “root causes” were “responsible for more than eighty percent of excess vibration and noise and machinery wear, failure and downtime”. “Wind turbine-generator systems are no exception; they follow the same failure modes,” he said.

Daryoush, who has a Pd.D. in Mechanics, has authored and co-written about ninety national and international professional articles and was included in the 1992 edition of “Who’s Who Among Rising Young Americans”.

When asked whether wind farm noise could be eliminated, Daryoush replied: “Yes, we have shown we can totally eliminate the noise and excess vibration coming from the top of the towers”. “QRDC has been in research development working on noise and vibration of both military and commercial systems since 1990. We have been very successful. Our methodology relies on managing energy and eliminating the root causes of noise and vibration in contrast to others who band-aid the problem.”

The company approached wind farm noise in a manner similar to its work in the mining and processing industry. “We have managed to fully mitigate the excess vibration and noise from the conventional wind farms by eliminating the root causes of vibrations, namely turbine blades, gearboxes, generators, power transferring shafts, bearings.” “By better understanding the root causes of noise and vibration, one could significantly boost performance, maintainability and reliability while reducing downtime and catastrophic failures of wind turbine generator systems that are becoming crucial to meeting the global renewable energy goals,” said Daryoush.

Source British Institute of Acoustics

Wind Turbine Planning ‘Red Tape’ to be Removed

Owners of domestic wind turbines should carefully consider where they place the machine to avoid upsetting
neighbours sensitive to their noise, according to a council official.
Alick Natton, senior environmental health officer at Vale of White Horse District Council, presented a case
study of a statutory noise nuisance at the Institute Of Acoustics’ Wind Turbine Noise meeting in Cardiff,
January 27.
The council was involved in what is believed to be one of the first cases where a homeowner served with a
noise abatement notice for a domestic wind turbine appealed against it at the Magistrates Court.
This followed a complaint about aerodynamic noise from the blades and a droning sound from the turbine,
which was placed about 80 metres from the homeowner’s house, but 55m from neighbours, said Alick.
The homeowner said there was no noise to be abated and tried to fight the notice.
However, the Court ruled that while the noise was not loud, it was continual, frequent and distinctive when
compared to typical transitory rural background noises and amounted to a “nuisance”.
The homeowner has since turned the turbine off, but is still keen to use it, said Alick.
At the IOA meeting Alick asked whether current government planning guidelines for small scale wind turbine
developments were “fit for purpose” as they are included in regulations covering larger turbines, such as
those found at commercial windfarms.
“You are left wondering whether these guidelines are at all helpful for domestic turbines,” said Alick.
He has warned that there could be further issues with noise from wind turbines following government efforts
to remove planning permission red tape.
In November 2009 Housing and Planning Minister John Healey launched a proposal to allow homeowners,
developers and businesses to install their own on-site wind turbines, without having to obtain planning
permission.
The new rules are available for public consultation until February 9, 2010.
Wind turbines up to 15 metres high would be permitted, in locations like industrial estates or agricultural
areas where they would not be a nuisance to residents. A maximum 45dB noise limit is proposed.
Source British Institute of Acoustics

Owners of domestic wind turbines should carefully consider where they place the machine to avoid upsetting neighbours sensitive to their noise, according to a British council official.

Alick Natton, senior environmental health officer at Vale of White Horse District Council, presented a case study of a statutory noise nuisance at the Institute Of Acoustics’ Wind Turbine Noise meeting in Cardiff, January 27.

The council was involved in what is believed to be one of the first cases where a homeowner served with a noise abatement notice for a domestic wind turbine appealed against it at the Magistrates Court.

This followed a complaint about aerodynamic noise from the blades and a droning sound from the turbine, which was placed about 80 metres from the homeowner’s house, but 55m from neighbours, said Alick.

The homeowner said there was no noise to be abated and tried to fight the notice. However, the Court ruled that while the noise was not loud, it was continual, frequent and distinctive when compared to typical transitory rural background noises and amounted to a “nuisance”. The homeowner has since turned the turbine off, but is still keen to use it, said Alick.

At the IOA meeting Alick asked whether current government planning guidelines for small scale wind turbine developments were “fit for purpose” as they are included in regulations covering larger turbines, such as those found at commercial windfarms.

“You are left wondering whether these guidelines are at all helpful for domestic turbines,” said Alick.

He has warned that there could be further issues with noise from wind turbines following government efforts to remove planning permission red tape.

In November 2009 Housing and Planning Minister John Healey launched a proposal to allow homeowners, developers and businesses to install their own on-site wind turbines, without having to obtain planning permission.

The new rules are available for public consultation until February 9, 2010. Wind turbines up to 15 metres high would be permitted, in locations like industrial estates or agricultural  areas where they would not be a nuisance to residents. A maximum 45dB noise limit is proposed.

Source British Institute of Acoustics

 

Experts Reject “Wind Turbine Syndrome

So-called “wind turbine syndrome” has been rejected by a panel of experts reviewing wind turbine noise and whether it affects peoples’ health.
Honorary Fellow of the UK’s Institute of Acoustics Dr Geoff Leventhall joined independent experts in medicine, public health, audiology and acoustics to examine the scientific validity of reports on the adverse health effects of wind turbine sound.
He is speaking about the syndrome at the IOA’s Wind Turbine Noise meeting in Cardiff on Wednesday January 27.
According to the expert panel, whose findings were published recently in “Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects”, evidence showed that “wind turbine syndrome” was based on “misinterpretation” of physiological data.
“Allegations of adverse health effects from wind turbines are as yet unproven.”
Features of the “so-called syndrome” (such as headaches, nausea and panic attacks) “were more likely associated with annoyance to low sound levels” said the review, commissioned by the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
The symptoms were “not new and have been published previously in the context of ‘annoyance’ to environmental sounds.”
The syndrome, referred to in recent newspaper articles as a health risk associated with noise and vibration from large turbines, was “not a recognised medical diagnosis”, the report said.
It also concluded that:
•There is no evidence that audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects;
•Ground-borne vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected by or to affect people;
•Sound from wind turbines does not pose a risk of hearing loss.
However, studies in Europe showed that the fluctuating aerodynamic “swishing” noise some blades made as they disturbed the air was “the cause of most sound complaints regarding wind turbines, as it is harder to become accustomed to fluctuating sound than to sound that does not fluctuate.”
The expert panel’s objective was to provide a reference document for legislators, regulators and others wanting to make sense of conflicting information about wind turbine noise.
Members reviewed potential environmental exposures associated with wind turbine operations, focusing on low frequency sound, infrasound and vibration.
“Wind turbines produce low levels of infrasound and low frequency sound, yet there is no credible scientific evidence that these levels are harmful.”

So-called “wind turbine syndrome” has been rejected by a panel of experts reviewing wind turbine noise and whether it affects peoples’ health.

Honorary Fellow of the UK’s Institute of Acoustics Dr Geoff Leventhall joined independent experts in medicine, public health, audiology and acoustics to examine the scientific validity of reports on the adverse health effects of wind turbine sound.

He is speaking about the syndrome at the IOA’s Wind Turbine Noise meeting in Cardiff on Wednesday January 27.

According to the expert panel, whose findings were published recently in “Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects”, evidence showed that “wind turbine syndrome” was based on “misinterpretation” of physiological data.

“Allegations of adverse health effects from wind turbines are as yet unproven.”

Features of the “so-called syndrome” (such as headaches, nausea and panic attacks) “were more likely associated with annoyance to low sound levels” said the review, commissioned by the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

The symptoms were “not new and have been published previously in the context of ‘annoyance’ to environmental sounds.”

The syndrome, referred to in recent newspaper articles as a health risk associated with noise and vibration from large turbines, was “not a recognised medical diagnosis”, the report said.

It also concluded that:

•There is no evidence that audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects;

•Ground-borne vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected by or to affect people;

•Sound from wind turbines does not pose a risk of hearing loss.

However, studies in Europe showed that the fluctuating aerodynamic “swishing” noise some blades made as they disturbed the air was “the cause of most sound complaints regarding wind turbines, as it is harder to become accustomed to fluctuating sound than to sound that does not fluctuate.”

The expert panel’s objective was to provide a reference document for legislators, regulators and others wanting to make sense of conflicting information about wind turbine noise.

Members reviewed potential environmental exposures associated with wind turbine operations, focusing on low frequency sound, infrasound and vibration.

“Wind turbines produce low levels of infrasound and low frequency sound, yet there is no credible scientific evidence that these levels are harmful.”

Source British Institute of Acoustics