Acousticians sound off over rising tide of wind farm opposition

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Acoustic engineers are frustrated as wind farm opponents – often supported by anonymous donors – snub scientific evidence in favour of myth and misinformation.

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Acoustic engineers are increasingly frustrated by community opposition to wind farm development as local opposition groups – often supported nationally by anonymous donors – snub scientific evidence in favour of myth and misinformation.

But the industry is not sitting on its hands. Hydro Tasmania, the company behind the 600MW TasWind proposal on Tasmania’s King Island, is developing a tool described as “an aural equivalent of visualisation” to help communities assess and understand wind farm noise.

Jason Turner, an acoustic consultant at Sonus – a company that assesses environmental noise from wind farms – told a session at Clean Energy Week, “Often local anti-wind farm action groups are driven in the background by a bigger, broader group. In my mind it’s as if there’s broad-brush support at a national level which is franchised out and picked up locally.”

Wind developers often find themselves up against well-resourced action groups with legal representation and acoustic engineering expertise, “which at face value looks credible and solid,” he added.

State authorities are often found to be hampering sensible wind farm development too, Turner said, referring to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hearing in April to ascertain whether the $100 million Infigen-owned Cherry Tree wind farm would get the go-ahead.

“A small number of turbines at a large distant form the nearest house really shouldn’t have any problems at all,” Turner said, adding, “it should really be a fait accompli. But there were three whole days of acoustic evidence given at that tribunal.

Local authorities are now “on the run” because of the pressure being placed on them by action groups.

“Guidelines that are adequate are being usurped [by] much more stringent guidelines… A lot of the time you don’t really realise that as an industry until you have to comply with them. This all happening despite quite categorical statements coming out from government about infrasound,” Turner said.

Christophe Delaire, an associate with Marshall Day Acoustics, noted recent permit conditions not only ask operators to talk about maintaining wind farms in compliance with permit, but go further by asking that the noise management plan includes assurances on ongoing compliance and monitoring.

The Coalition recently called for requirements that all wind farms to provide “real-time” noise monitoring, with the findings immediately publicly available.

But ongoing monitoring wind farm noise is extremely difficult, Delaire said, adding, “There’s a lot of background noise – birds, cars etc etc. You can’t necessarily link noise level to wind farm noise. That’s the critical part here.”

In an airport, for instance, continuous noise monitoring is deployed, but the signal-to-noise ratio is high making it easier to measure. This is not the case for wind farms.

Members of communities close to wind farms often claim turbines harm harm their health, but in 2011 the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) concluded: “There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms,” and “low level frequency noise or infrasound emitted by wind turbines is minimal and of no consequence… Further, numerous reports have concluded that there is no evidence of health effects arising from infrasound or low frequency noise generated by wind turbines.”

NHMRC is continuing to investigate the impact of wind farms on human health. Its systematic literature review, along with any revisions to its previous statement, is expected to be released for public consultation in the second half of this year.

Arup and Hydro Tasmania are taking action to develop a tool to aid community engagement and counter community opposition.

David Mounter, manager wind asset development at Hydro Tasmania, said a community facing wind farm development, such as on King Island, often doesn’t know what a wind farm sounds like.

“We want a reliable, calibrated, repeatable way of communicating what a wind farm sounds like,” he said.

Arup has developed an auralisation tool that describes noise very accurately by using a sound demonstration.

“It’s a very natural and intuitive way to describe sound – we don’t have to come up with decibels or any other funny words of describing it, we just let people listen,” explains Kym Burgemeister, a senior associate at Arup. “It’s an aural equivalent of visualisation.”

Wind developers and acousticians want to bring the debate back to audible sound. Increasingly opponents are focusing on infrasound – or low frequency inaudible sound – as a valid complaint.

Studies have shown that the level of infrasound in cities and on beaches is far higher than anything caused by the spin of turbine blades. Yet campaigners still claim that, somehow, only the infrasound from turbines is extremely harmful.

“When people are talking about what a wind farm is going to sound like they have had that experience which will disarm rumours and myths. Really about bringing back conversation to ‘what are we going to hear’,” Hydro Tasmania’s Mounter said.

“The problem is not always being believed. Once we’re believed we have succeeded,” he said.

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50 Comments
  1. sean 5 years ago

    promotions to go and visit them, run under them, watch movies under them, observe space under them, hold fireworks around them

    they face fear of the unknown…. just invite people to come and discover that they really aren’t that scary, and then tell them you get paid for hosting one and you will have a huge queue wanting one in their backyard

    • Ketan Joshi 5 years ago

      Sean,

      We’ve got a Woodlawn Wind Farm run in November that you should come along to – I guarantee you’ll beat at least one attendee (me)

      http://runwiththewind.com.au/

  2. Mike Barnard 5 years ago

    A recent study out of Ontario found massive support from a community with a nearby wind farm, and much lower support in a community without wind turbines or even proposed turbines. The disinformation factor is large, but wind farms are innocuous to the overwhelming majority who live with them.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421513005351

    • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

      Mike,

      What does this tell you? I quote from the abstract: “Though the literature suggests that aesthetic preferences best predict turbine support the key predictors in this study are: health risk perception, community benefits, general community enhancement, and a preference for turbine-generated electricity.”

      • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

        Mike didn’t answer you, so let me give it a go.

        The literature finds that the best predictor for supporting wind turbines is an appreciation of their aesthetic beauty. (Gotta give this some props. They are magnificent beasts.)

        This study finds that health risk perception (imaging that turbines harm one), community benefits (jobs and tax revenue), general community enhancement (those tax dollars help pretty the place up) and a preference for turbine-generated electricity (an understanding that turbines help us fight climate change) best predict support for wind farms.

        Some people see the benefits and support wind farms. Other people get weird thoughts in their heads and oppose them.

        That help?

        • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

          ” Other people get weird thoughts in their heads and oppose them.”
          Bob, I see your weird way of interpreting a study: ignore the plethora of evidence that suggests they are at the very least a noise nuisance, at the very worst a public health disaster.

          • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

            There is no plethora of evidence that shows wind turbine noise causes health problems. There’s no, zero, nada evidence

            There are some unsubstantiated claims.

            There are also some unsubstantiated claims that polio vaccine sterilizes Muslims.

          • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

            I wouldn’t know unless I spent some time at a university library to see how they have held up in the review process.

            Have you done the required work to see how the scientific community has received them?

            There’s so much bogus junk that people have called “scientific” it’s a bit hard to sort the wheat from the chaff unless it’s ones field of specialization.

            If you happened to read the article at the top of the page it says –

            “Members of communities close to wind farms often claim turbines harm harm their health, but in 2011 the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) concluded: “There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms,” and “low level frequency noise or infrasound emitted by wind turbines is minimal and of no consequence… Further, numerous reports have concluded that there is no evidence of health effects arising from infrasound or low frequency noise generated by wind turbines.”

            NHMRC is continuing to investigate the impact of wind farms on human health. Its systematic literature review, along with any revisions to its previous statement, is expected to be released for public consultation in the second half of this year.”

            The NHMRC is made of of people who can read studies like the ones you selected and put them in perspective. They’e found no credible evidence for what bothers you to date.

            Sounds like they’ll have an updated report out soon. I’d suggest you relax and read what they have to say.

            And I’d really suggest you don’t try getting your science from anti-wind groups. They’re too biased to be trusted.

          • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

            Bob perhaps you should spend more time understanding the limitations of the NHMRC review (and the other “international reviews”) before anything else:

            ‘The National Health and Medical Research Council acknowledges the
            health effects of renewable energy generation have not been assessed to the
            same extent as those from traditional sources and recommends authorities
            continue to monitor research.’

            From: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-07-05/residents-reject-wind-farm-health-findings/892014

          • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

            Perhaps you could use a little common sense, George.

            The health/noise issue has been studied and no problem has been discovered.

            It is an issue that will be further monitored to see if anything develops. In fact, the NHMRC will release an updated review in a few months.

            In the meantime you’ll have to accept the fact that I dismiss your assertions as I don’t think you have the ability to understand the studies that you are linking and I’m quite sure you haven’t spent the proper amount of effort to verify their reception in the scientific community.

          • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

            Bob, round and around we go! The “17 international reviews” recognise noise nuisance. So no problem has been discovered???
            The studies I refer to above have been published in peer-reviewed journals haven’t they?

          • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

            Oh, yes, a noise nuisance if one stands close to a turbine. Been there, heard that. Move a reasonable distance away and road noise can drown them out.

            Anything significant enough to organize a large anti-wind campaign?

            No, not really.

            Now, I realize that you probably think all “peer-reviewed journals” publish good science. But that is simply not true. You could quite easily go out and round up a few fools and crackpots and start a journal, let your group of fools and crackpots do the reviewing and publish some pure junk.

            Even quality journals and quality researchers make a mistake now and then that gets published. Peer-review is only the first review step for a paper. It’s just a screening so that people in the field don’t have to spend their time on obviously flawed papers.

            That’s why I suggested you needed to take yourself to a university library and do a literature review. See if the journals and articles you picked are treated with respect.

            Assuming you won’t or aren’t able to do that then I would suggest you wait a few months for some experts to do the job for you.

          • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

            So Bob, get back to the point noise nuisance is an issue, isn’t it? That’s why people complain about wind turbine noise many km’s away but the wind industry has been arguing with reference to the draft NSW guidelines that 1.5km is enough?
            Bob, sorry but continuing the discussion with you seems like talking to a brick wall.

          • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

            OK, George, is the issue now only noise? Have you given up on pushing the non-existent health stuff?

            Now, can you hear a wind farm from “many km’s away”? At times, if every other thing is quite and the wind blowing in the right direction?

            Possibly.
            Would the noise be of a volume that gives you a right to object?

            That’s a more complex question.

            When we buy property we don’t buy the right to have nothing around us change. A nearby road can be widened and traffic noise increase. Unless that noise increase is significant then we have no basis for appeal.

            A new school could be built and we’d hear the sound of children at play. Probably have to live with that.

            Or we could buy our little piece of heaven in which we look out on some beautiful rolling hills and then find one day that someone has subdivided those rolling hills and is creating a new suburbia. Nothing we can do about losing a view we didn’t own.

            Is 1.5km enough setback for a wind farm? It’s slightly more than the 1/2 mile I think we use here in the US. And since we’re probably the most litigious country in the world that’s probably a reasonable distance.

          • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

            Bob, one last reply to your rude attitude (I don’t have a belief system). If you were here last night you would appreciate the very annoying rumble that these things cause me 35km – I was once upon a time living in amongst the most quiet and serene rural area in the region, but not any more!

          • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

            Well, that’s too bad, George.

            But since you don’t own the land 35km from you and the noise you report you can hear doesn’t violate noise standards then you’re out of luck.

            35km? Come on….

          • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

            Bob, I think you and the wind industry are out of luck if these things are audible 35km away!

          • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

            Obviously you are wrong, George. There are now about a quarter million wind turbines in the world and a handful of you people making outrageous noise claims.

            BTW, are you a James Brown protegee?

          • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

            I would like to see you repeating that comment in a few years time…

    • Tom 5 years ago

      Read the damn thing man -it’s written by a student who admits a basis for wind and still believes in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy .

      • myview1872 5 years ago

        The author is a candidate for a Master of ARTS and thanks Mommy and Daddy in the acknowledgements. Mike is really scraping the bottom of the barrel by citing this ‘study’.

        • Spencer4hire 5 years ago

          AAWW did mommy not let you go to school? And you are jealous?

          Professional Associations

          1994-present Association of American Geographers (member of Medical Geography Specialty Group)
          1995-present Canadian Association of Geographers (member of the Geography of Health and Health Care Specialty Group)

          1995-present Society for Risk Analysis

          Education:

          1993-1997 Ph.D. in Geography
          McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
          Dissertation Title: The meaning of risk and uncertainty in an environmentally sensitized community

          1990-1992 M.A. in Geography
          McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
          Thesis Title: The psychosocial impacts of exposure to the proposed Halton regional landfill site

          1985-1989 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Geography
          Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

          • myview1872 5 years ago

            Isn’t it nice to have actual proof that you did not read that ‘study’. Go download it and read the first few pages fool.

          • Spencer4hire 5 years ago

            What a maaarrrooonnn! You did not read his education, you just skimmed through looking for C.R.A.P. you could twist or pervert! Just a pathetic little boy can’t reason his way out of a paper bag so he throws insults instead of contributing.

            I don’t need to read “anything” to know what an utterly foolish hypocrite you are or how wrong you are!

            You just say something and everyone knows it’s bull !

            Then it’s just a quick search to find the peer reviewed and published evidence that you are an old fool!

            BTW there are three “Authors” and “Master of Arts” (Are studies in English, history, geography, communication, the humanities, philosophy, social sciences, fine arts, nursing, museum studies or theology and in the US is the same as Masters of Science) are all encompassing and he is still way way way way way way way way more educated and qualified than you or your lot will ever be!

        • Spencer4hire 5 years ago

          It would seem that your comment has very little to with the discussion.

          Jamie Baxtera

          Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Western Ontario

          Other Appointment

          Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Environmental Science Program, University of Calgary

          Education

          1993-1997 Ph.D. in Geography

          McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

          Dissertation Title: The meaning of risk and uncertainty
          in an environmentally sensitized community

          1990-1992 M.A. in Geography

          McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

          Thesis Title: The psychosocial impacts of exposure
          to the proposed Halton regional landfill site

          1985-1989 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Geography

          Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

          Professional Associations

          1994-present Association of American Geographers (member of Medical
          Geography Specialty Group)

          1995-present Canadian Association of Geographers (member
          of the Geography of Health and Health Care Specialty Group)

          1995-present Society for Risk Analysis

          • myview1872 5 years ago

            The author of that ‘study’ is a student by the name of Chad Walker, NOT Jamie Baxtera. Download it and read it!

            Your comment has zero to do with the discussion.

          • Spencer4hire 5 years ago

            I did, the lead author is Baxter.

            And the Irony was that the Mod. thought I was Anti turbine! LOL!!

            You can’t even get that correct!

            Irony and hypocrisy are the trademarks of Anti Wind Groups!

            Always saying “What has that got to do with Ontario” but in the next breath bring up some stupid idiot from anywhere else but Ontario!

          • myview1872 5 years ago

            Since the only to view that ‘study’ is to pay for it (I refuse to pay for publications such as this), I will quote from the abstract:

            “Baxter concludes that the results from the control group signal that rural Ontario may, in the future, want to close their doors for business where turbines are concerned and that a more radical retooling may be needed for sustainable turbine policy.

            The findings also contradict the NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) hypothesis, meaning those who don’t support turbines locally do not support them generally. In this case, Baxter argues the NIMBY hypothesis is not helpful for understanding why people
            support/oppose or feel impacted by turbines.”

            This study does not appear to support your views in the least.

          • Spencer4hire 5 years ago

            LOL you just said Baxter was not the Author .

            As part of the discussion I checked out the link rather than insult a student .

            Again the Anti Wind Group discriminate the way some disciminate against minorities.

            “Literature suggests
            that how people feel about the look of turbines in the landscape,
            aesthetically speaking, is one of the best predictors of turbine support
            but that is not the case in our study.”

            No Science or reason just hate because of way something “LOOKS”

  3. George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

    “Acoustic engineers are increasingly frustrated by community opposition to wind farm development as local opposition groups”

    Yep, certainly. Thank you for confirming that the acoustic engineers that are “frustrated” go to bed with the wind industry.

    I seems like the other acoustic engineers who don’t deal with the energy have very different stories to relate.

  4. George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

    And just another dose of weird logic only available at your wind industry propaganda venue: “studies have shown that the level of infrasound in cities and on beaches is far higher than anything caused by the spin of turbine blades. Yet campaigners still claim that, somehow, only the infrasound from turbines is extremely harmful.”

    Could paraphrase this as “studies have shown that the level of air particulates in cities and on beaches is far higher than anything caused by LEAD SMELTERS. Yet campaigners still claim that, somehow, only the particulates from LEAD SMELTERS are harmful”.
    And yes, keeping sniffing asbestos dust also, because cigarette smoking exposes the individual to more particulates that the tiny amounts of asbestos available from demolition works of the home down the street…
    Wind industry logic – don’t you just love it! Why think scientifically when you could just blindly follow religious instruction instead!

    • David Hamilton 5 years ago

      George, are you claiming that measurements have found higher lead particulate in air levels in cities and on beaches than in the vicinity of lead smelters? References, please! If you are not claiming that, then I fail to understand your comment.

      • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

        David, the wind industry favourite acousticians think the rest of the world is so stupid to believe that a simple noise level makes good comparison. I was hoping you and others could see through this – hence why I only talked about particulates without any reference to further analysis.

        If still don’t get my point then here are a couple of reports that might enlighten you:

        http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/infrasound-from-wind-turbines-letter-from-malcolm-swinbanks/

        http://docs.wind-watch.org/in12-ambrose-rand-krogh-falmouth.pdf

        • RobS 5 years ago

          Ahh I see George, it’s some of that magical unmeasurable noise. The wind FUD brigade has totally lost its mind it would seem.

          • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

            Rob, did you see the comment of C Watters above and the audible noise of wind turbines on the web site?
            In case you were not aware modulation of noise can be a product of “inaudible” infrasound.

          • Spencer4hire 5 years ago

            They (Sydney University, Auckland University and the American Psychological Association) have already proved that it’s Wind Watch and WCO that cause the harm.

            You need to find another source for your myths . . uumm . . I mean your stories!

            Plus of there have been hundreds of studies done on health issues and Ifrasound and there is no link to turbines or health .

            That is what the 18 health reviews were of !! Hundreds of Studies!

  5. CWatters 5 years ago

    In the UK the Acousticians at MAS Environmental Services have recorded wind farms at several locations. Some are available on their web site. One shows clear evidence of significant AM modulation.

    http://www.masenv.co.uk/listening_room#item162

  6. Tom 5 years ago

    Written and supported by a bunch of bottom feeders who are only concerned about money – no person with any self pride would consider working for the wind industry. I
    don’t know how they can look at themselves in the mirror on a morning.

  7. Pat Bauman 5 years ago

    Hmmm. It does appear as if the wind industry just can’t help themselves when it comes to spreading lies, lies and more damned lies. I’ve just recently become involved in this issue. I don’t have any wind turbines anywhere near my home, but I have gone to several open houses for wind development and have met numerous people associated with various grassroots groups across Southern Ontario. I can state without hesitation that these “local opposition groups” – ARE NOT — “supported nationally by anonymous donors.” Just more lies put out by the wind industry to try to discredit those who are suffering from having wind turbines too close to them.

    It’s a real shame that the wind industry has to rely on spreading lies to promote its business, rather than count on its supposedly good business practices. That says a lot about their product and definitely puts them on the same level as the lying tobacco reps who still insist there is nothing wrong with smoking cigarettes.

    • Spencer4hire 5 years ago

      LoL your involvement has been document for at least 5 months .

      How can you “state without hesitation that these “local opposition groups” – ARE NOT — “supported nationally by anonymous donors.”?

      Wind Watch , WCO etc.. have Mastercard and Visa logos on their site! LOL!!

      Anti Wind Turbine Groups are the cause of the harm and they spread the lies!

      • Pat Bauman 5 years ago

        I would say 5 months is ‘recently’, unlike others who have been fighting these things for years. I’ve taken the time to attend open houses and meet the people who have been suffering, which is more than you can say. You just sit in your basement, ignoring your family, while you stalk strangers on the internet. Well, if I’ve learned nothing else from my new friend, at least I know how to turn you off.

        • Spencer4hire 5 years ago

          LOL “why can’t you anti-wind people behave like adults. “

  8. Giles 5 years ago

    ugly ugly ugly. why can’t you anti-wind people behave like adults. I’ve deleted a bunch of comments which don’t meet any civil criteria, let alone ours. I’ll weed out more when i get time.

    • Pat Bauman 5 years ago

      Thank you for deleting Spencer4Hire Giles, but he is not ‘anti-wind’. He is very pro-wind and tends to clog up comment sections with childish rants.

    • Spencer4hire 5 years ago

      My apologies , I get very passionate when the Anti Wind People lie about anyone or anything.

      The article is very interesting and I have shared it with many who believe in science.

    • myview1872 5 years ago

      Thank you for doing something about Spencer4hire. This person knows nothing about being civil. It’s too bad that more moderators don’t see through the meaningless rants.

  9. Ivor O'Connor 5 years ago

    To me this article reads as “I’ll support wind regardless of any real noise problems.”

    As much as I want wind turbines everywhere I feel any noise issues should be addressed and can be addressed successfully. No need for blind loyalty as displayed in this article.

    • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

      I haven’t seen anyone claim that they will support wind regardless of any real noise problems. Wind turbines do produce some noise and we need to have reasonable set back regulations.

      The problem is a small group of people who have taken a “no wind, no way” stance and look for any excuse to oppose wind. If they can’t find a legitimate issue then they create one.

      It’s something that we see at times. People form hard anti-something opinion and fight tooth and nail to defend their position even when all the evidence shows they are incorrect.

      • Ivor O'Connor 5 years ago

        I see it like solar panels and green houses. You don’t watch them and people out here in the country will throw rocks at them. You put cameras up so you can take the video to the offending kids parents and end of story.

        Likewise with wind turbines. If they say turbines make noise, which is something that I’m very sensitive to, then put up some low cost noise monitoring and be done with it. When these “no wind, no way” folks start posturing about fake noises then play it back in their faces.

        I guess I’m a bit upset with the article because it seemed to be wishy washy on a topic that can be easily addressed in a positive way for the wind industry.

Comments are closed.