Wind Power in the UK (PDF). - Sustainable Development Commission

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Wind Power in the UK (PDF). - Sustainable Development Commission

8 NoiseThere are a number of guidelines that are usedto determine acceptable levels of noise such asThe World Health Organisation’s (WHO)publication ‘Guidelines for Community Noise’ 55 ,The British Standard BS4142, and which offers awell-understood framework for measuring allindustrial noise 56 . A report produced for the DTI,“The Assessment and Rating of Noise from WindFarms”, describes a framework for measuringwind farm noise and offers indicative acceptablenoise levels for developments 57 .Because of the importance of background noisein determining the acceptability of the overallnoise level, it is crucial to measure thebackground ambient noise levels for all thewind conditions in which the wind turbine willbe operating. Sound propagation is a function ofthe source sound characteristics (direction andheight), distance, air absorption, reflection andabsorption and weather effects such as changesof wind speed and temperature with height.There are accepted practices for modelling soundpropagation which take all these factors intoaccount and there are a variety of propagationmodels in current usage.The onus is on the developer to comply with thenoise limits imposed by the planning authorityfor a permitted wind power site. In the UK,information supplied with the planningapplication has to indicate whether or not theproposed turbines will meet noise limits.8.7 Regulation of noiseUK planning controlThe noise assessments which accompanyplanning applications are reviewed by statutoryconsultees, taking into account the concerns andviews of the local community. Such noiseassessments are also frequently sent for reviewby independent noise consultants in order toverify and critically appraise the work. Noiseassessments for wind developments will needto follow the guidance and assessment criteriaoutlined in BS4142 and in the DTI report (seeabove).Operational wind farmsFollowing the planning process, once wind farmsare in operation, then people generally livewithout noise problems from the development.Councillor Margaret Munn of Ardrossan SouthWard in Scotland comments:“The Ardrossan wind farm has beenoverwhelmingly accepted by localpeople – instead of spoiling thelandscape we believe it has beenenhanced. The turbines areimpressive looking, bring a calmingeffect to the town and contrary to thebelief that they would be noisy, wehave found them to be silentworkhorses.”However, other people have complained aboutnoise from wind developments in the UK. Theseare well-documented occurrences, with knownproblems relating to issues such as tonal noisefrom older wind turbines and with specificmalfunctions such as gearbox misalignment andimperfections on the turbine blades. Each ofthese issues have been subsequently addressed,whether through turbine design improvements(such as the control of tonal noise) or throughsite specific maintenance (such as thereplacement of individual turbine blades duringthe life of the wind farm).Solutions to previous noise problems have beenintegrated into the improved design of theturbines and associated engineering. Thelocation, proximity to human habitation, designof the wind development and maintenance of80 Wind Power in the UK sustainable development commission

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