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