Renewable Energy Foundation

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REF Publishes Data on Wind Farm Noise Obtained Under the Freedom of Information Act

REF has recently obtained data under the Freedom of Information Act relating to work conducted by the University of Salford under contract to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform: Research into aerodynamic modulation of wind turbine noise (URN 07/1235).

The University of Salford’s report is an important study of wind turbine noise problems, but is flawed in the following respects.

a.    The study did not reveal the names of any of the wind farms with noise problems.
b.    The study did not reveal the specifics of the noise complaints.
c.    The study did not publish the survey responses from local authorities.

REF considered that this was not in the public interest, or compatible with the broader principles of sustainability, and made a request for the information under the Freedom of Information Act. The University of Salford refused this request (13 September 2007), but the Information Commissioner determined the information requested must be be released (8 December 2008), and the University complied with this ruling on the 12 of January 2009

The file published today gives an account of the above Freedom of Information request, and contains hyperlinks to the data released by the University of Salford.

This newly-released information reveals some of the difficulties encountered by complainants and Councils in resolving wind farm noise complaints.

There appear to be puzzling omissions in both the set of sites provoking noise complaints, and in the sub-set of sites with AM noise issues which warrant further investigation.

REF believes that this material provides further evidence that the current noise assessment guidance (ETSU-R-97) is not fit for purpose, is failing to protect the amenity of neighbours and is urgently in need of revision.