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Windfarms in court

When suggestions were made that windfarms had detrimental health effects on nearby residents, I wondered if we might see windfarm operators sued for damages. I was right:

[I]n a 49-page complaint filed last month, the plaintiffs, who live within a mile or two of the wind farm in Fairfield, Middleville, and Norway, N.Y., are charging the Iberdrola companies with negligence, private nuisance, trespass and product liability violations for building the project without adequately considering the impact on residents.

Plaintiffs said the 476-foot turbines are bigger and noisier than developers promised residents.

As a result, they say, residents near the wind farm are dealing with loud noise each day.

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Reader Comments (32)

Residents near the Fuallabrook Wind farm in Devon (the largest in England) are suffering from terrible noise affecting their health. This is happening despite the noise assessment showing (if you believe the developer's calculations) that the ETSU-R-97 noise limits would be met (which new measurements show they aren't). However, the noise limits were set by the wind industry to enable wind farms to be developed close to dwellings whilst giving residents only "reasonable" protection from noise. It is not possible to challenge the noise limits - they are set by Government. who don't care about the effect on its citizens.

Dec 1, 2012 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Hope they win.
The "little people" are doing less well here against "Big Wind";

Dec 1, 2012 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

As I understand it, windfarms are being built at considerable expense because they generate pollution free energy at a time when there is a panic about generating electricity by burning fossil fuels harming the atmosphere. This is the premise upon which they are being sold to us.

As I understand it, fossil fuel generating capacity has to be held constantly on stand-by because power output from windfarms is unreliable and unpredictable. The result of this is that fuel consumption and pollution is actually made worse by the existence of the windfarms. So in short, we would have been better off in every way if we had saved our money and not built the windfarms at all.

Surely there is a lawsuit in there somewhere?

Dec 1, 2012 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

Bad day in court for anti-wind campaigner Sarah Laurie - People had more so-called ‘wind turbine syndrome’ when wind farms were not operating than when they were operating:

Dec 1, 2012 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterColin Lawson

ScottishPower Renewables

A sister company to ScottishPower, we’re part of Iberdrola Renewables, the world’s biggest producer of renewable energy with around 8,000MW in operation and 42,000MW in the pipeline. The UK's leading supplier of green energy products to domestic and business customers, we aim to increase our renewable energy capacity in the UK to 3,000MW by 2015. This will be achieved primarily through the building and acquisition of wind farms, but also by investing in biomass and other breakthrough technologies such as the floating Pelamis generator and Hammerfest’s tidal turbine that harness wave power.

Dec 1, 2012 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

26 Nov: CBS: State approves Cape Wind deal with NStar
NStar's agreement to buy 27.5 percent of the wind farm's power is similar to National Grid's agreement with Cape Wind to buy half its power, which the Department of Public Utilities approved in 2010. The $2.6 billion Cape Wind project still is seeking financing, and company officials said having two large power purchase deals in hand will give them a boost.
"Taken together, these two (contracts) provide Cape Wind with the critical mass to continue securing project financing," said Theodore Roosevelt IV, Cape Wind's financial adviser.
The 130-turbine project in Nantucket Sound, proposed in 2001, is aiming to be the country's first offshore wind farm, and hopes to produce power by late 2015. It's backed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, but staunchly opposed by critics who have filed pending lawsuits and argue its power is too costly. For instance, under its 15-year contract, NStar has agreed to buy Cape Wind's power for more than double what conventional energy is projected to cost during the same period.
"It's disappointing the state is willing to burden Massachusetts households and businesses with billions of dollars in extra utility costs for the sake of promoting an expensive and poorly sited project," said Audra Parker of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the project's chief opponent...

eventually, there will be a public backlash over the unnecessary increases in their electricity bills.

Dec 1, 2012 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Pat, it is not just the rise in electricity bills, it affects the cost of every thing you buy and every service you use.

Dec 1, 2012 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Tolson

Biter bit?

Insurance companies lobby that premiums should be higher because we are emitting CO2 and now we have:-

"Insurers losing patience with offshore wind cabling claims"

"Insurers are increasingly concerned about the mounting number of expensive cable-installation claims in offshore wind projects, with the large number of incidents put down to a complex mix of human factors and technical issues."

Well we did not want them in the first place, we expressed great concern over the risks of offshore installations but you went ahead and took the premiums, so physician, sorry lobbyist, heal thy self!

Dec 1, 2012 at 9:47 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Roger Tolson

Cost to the NHS?

Dec 1, 2012 at 10:07 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

I have heard the same anectotal evidence from around the world, including Fullabrooke, Devon, Waterloo, South Australia, and Makara NZ.

They all say that the turbines sound like tumble driers, that they cannot sleep, and that they need to either leave their houses permanently or go away (to cities, in the NZ case) to get some sleep

I find it hard to believe these people are all making it up or have some kind of suggested illness.

Dec 1, 2012 at 11:23 PM | Registered CommenterAndy Scrase

One school holds that it is not sound audible to humans that is the problem but infrasound generated by the blades that is the issue e.g.

Dunno the veracity of this suppoistion is. Anyone know of any solid evidence?

Dec 1, 2012 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDr K.A. Rodgers

Bish this story about tax breaks for fracking is great until the second last paragraph. Someone needs to shame journalists into proper story research before making such ridiculous statements...but hey, if it
helps the Govt. rationalize tax breaks for gas plants...

"Gas-fired plants will be used only intermittently – in winter when demand is highest and when there is no
wind to blow turbines – so they are uneconomic. Therefore power companies will need encouragement to
start building them."

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Dec 1, 2012 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterGazza

The point is that any repetitive unnatural (and some natural) noise can be highly distressing in the quiet of night when people are trying to sleep, like the dripping of a tap. These wind 'farms' are industrial installations which should be nowhere near residential areas, and of course in terms of effectiveness and economic burden should not exist at all.

Dec 1, 2012 at 11:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Fourty years ago I worked as an engineer for a division of a large U.S. automotive parts supplier. We had a few deaf people working in our company that, by the way, were very good workers. We also had some noisy areas that we thought would be ideal for these people so we tried placing them in these areas. Well this did not work out at all, we found that the frequencies that we, and they, do not hear are picked up other parts of the human body causing them high levels of stress.

Also, the link provided at the top of this article, New Hampshire Union Leader, is one of the very few truthful newspapers left in the northeast United States.

Dec 1, 2012 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterD. Matteson

Not particularly suprising that people downwind of windmills experience more distress when they aren't turning.

When the blades are turning, they are extracting energy from the wind, so there's less energy downwind than there would be without the turbines in place. There will be more characteristic spikes in the noise spectrum, including the "tumble dryer" whooshing, but less energy in total than in an unobstructed wind.

Now stop the blades. You still have interference effects downwind, and characteristic noise spikes from the blades and towers, and more wind energy in total than if the blades were turning, so some of the noises will be louder, though the cyclic whooshing will be absent.

When a wing or a sail is running efficiently, it makes a lot less noise than when it is stalled at the same airspeed, because under stall conditions the flow is turbulent but at "max lift/drag" i.e. when it is extracting or converting energy most efficiently, the flow is laminar and theoretically noiseless. Just sit in a descending aircraft and listen to the racket as the flaps are deployed!

Dec 2, 2012 at 12:52 AM | Unregistered Commenteralan

In the nineteenth century the Coromandel gold field in New Zealand operated many battery crushers 24/7 powdering the quartz ore to allow extraction of gold by the cyanide process. There is an oft-told story that when residents of the gold mining settlements went to the Big Smoke 100 miles away they found they were unable to sleep due to the lack of background noise they had grown used to. This is well documented.

Dec 2, 2012 at 1:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterDr K.A. Rodgers

When a wing or a sail is running efficiently, it makes a lot less noise than when it is stalled at the same airspeed, because under stall conditions the flow is turbulent but at "max lift/drag" i.e. when it is extracting or converting energy most efficiently, the flow is laminar and theoretically noiseless. Just sit in a descending aircraft and listen to the racket as the flaps are deployed!

Go down to the yacht harbour and listen to the loose sails flogging in the wind ... near no noise when they are properly set.

Dec 2, 2012 at 3:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

O/T A quotation by Ottmar Edenhofer, an economist who is the lead author of the next IPCC report: -

"One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore."

Edenhofer was a protagonist in the last IPCC report. I did not believe this quotation when I came across it earlier this week but it is now on WUWT.

Dec 2, 2012 at 5:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterEpigenes

We mustn't forget Jane and Julian Davis who launched a claim for damages and an injunction against defendants including Fenland Windfarms Ltd and Fenland Green Power Co-operative Ltd because the intolerable noise drove them out of their home. They finally settled out of court; the reason being that the defendants didn't want to set a precedent by admitting that a noise nuisance actually existed and the inconvenient facts would have become public. I gave up buying bird food from Vine Farms when I realised they were part owners of the wind farm at Deeping St Nicholas.

Dec 2, 2012 at 7:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I wonder if the "not operating" trick is done by defining "operating" as "generating".
i understand the things spend a lot of time motoring (I have certainly seen them turning when the local winds have been calm) for various technical reasons which presumably creates as much if not more noise than when they are generating. By definition this will happen on still, quiet days when the sound will carry better and be more obvious.

Dec 2, 2012 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Thought readers may like to see this presentation of the negative impact of hydro on the river system. 30 minute presentation, but worth watching to the end.

Dec 2, 2012 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Bert

Dr K.A. Rodgers

These may be of interest:

Infrasound From Wind Turbines Could Affect Humans
Alec N. Salt, James A. Kaltenbach

Wind turbines generate low-frequency sounds that affect the ear. The ear is superficially similar to a microphone, converting mechanical sound waves into electrical signals, but does this by complex physiologic processes. Serious misconceptions about low-frequency sound and the ear have resulted from a failure to consider in detail how the ear works. Although the cells that provide hearing are insensitive to infrasound, other sensory cells in the ear are much more sensitive, which can be demonstrated by electrical recordings. Responses to infrasound reach the brain through pathways that do not involve conscious hearing but instead may produce sensations of fullness, pressure or tinnitus, or have no sensation. Activation of subconscious pathways by infrasound could disturb sleep. Based on our current knowledge of how the ear works, it is quite possible that low-frequency sounds at the levels generated by wind turbines could affect those living nearby.


Wind Turbine Acoustic Investigation
Infrasound and Low-Frequency Noise—A Case Study
Stephen E. Ambrose, Robert W. Rand, Carmen M. E. Krogh

Wind turbines produce sound that is capable of disturbing local residents and is reported to cause annoyance, sleep disturbance, and other health-related impacts. An acoustical study was conducted to investigate the presence of infrasonic and low-frequency noise emissions from wind turbines located in Falmouth, Massachusetts, USA. During the study, the investigating acousticians experienced adverse health effects consistent with those reported by some Falmouth residents. The authors conclude that wind turbine acoustic energy was found to be greater than or uniquely distinguishable from the ambient background levels and capable of exceeding human detection thresholds. The authors emphasize the need for epidemiological and laboratory research by health professionals and acousticians concerned with public health and well-being to develop effective and precautionary setback distances for industrial wind turbines that protect residents from wind turbine sound.

Dec 2, 2012 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterMT

Dr K A Rodgers,

A similar problem existed on the Flower Class Corvettes in WW2. The cable pipes from the cable lockers to the focsle passed through the seamens messes and were unlined and (usually) unlagged. The ratings got so used to sleeping through the racket of the cables bashing around inside the pipes that they were unable to sleep when the ships were in harbour.

Dec 2, 2012 at 4:12 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

The key frequency for infrasound is ~9 Hz, the natural oscillation frequency of the gut.

If this sound is captured by the wall of a nearby house and concentrate in nodes in the building, the inhabitants can die fro the build up of stress hormones.

Dec 2, 2012 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

[snip. Unnecessary]

Dec 2, 2012 at 8:31 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Salopian (explaining the implications of dogginess):

[if] you happened to fart at the "wrong" frequency, you would explode

It was only fair after so long of the warmies having easily the most ridiculous scare stories that someone claiming to be on 'our side' should wish to go one better. But this lit up the evening, so to speak.

Dec 2, 2012 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Can we please not accept Jimmy Savile as nym and his catchphrases as some kind of sick, if vague joke? There are a couple of examples of the same on Real names or pseudonyms that could also usefully be removed. There seems to be a determined attempt at the moment to take Bishop Hill way beyond the pale of acceptable humour to a sly but hateful form (including jokey references to murdering our opponents) which deliberately mocks real suffering and seeks to smear all genuine posters by association. Such in-jokes, if that's what they manage to become, will debase all dialog and put off any decent, open-minded visitor in an instant.

Dec 2, 2012 at 9:15 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Roger Tolson -

as u say: "it affects the cost of every thing you buy and every service you use". so true, but it might be the actual bills in hand that get the point across to the general public.

Dec 2, 2012 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat


I can't think there's any doubt that either AlecM/mdgnn or the cornish cockroach is behind the 9:08 post, but at the end of the day, it's up to BH to police this site.

Dec 2, 2012 at 9:35 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Totally agree. An absurdist always works together with 'others', real or synthetic. They are determined to destroy Bishop Hill, in my jaundiced view. But there are enough real people here who cherish the place - or at least something about it in the past - that it's no foregone conclusion that they will succeed.

Dec 2, 2012 at 9:43 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


Happy to accept your snip of my 8:31pm comment, but please snip AlecMs comment of 7:58pm as it is scientifically complete and utter b*ll*cks.

Dec 2, 2012 at 10:09 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Salopian: The problem with a total snip like this, even with the short explanation, is that you don't know which parts fell short. I doubt it was the '[if] you happened to fart at the "wrong" frequency, you would explode' - which I think was not only fair comment but very funny - but the final sentence in which you gave vent to your assessment of AlecM. He's a cool customer, notice, in that he's seldom rude. If, as they say, there are two kinds of people in the world, those who have nervous breakdowns and those who give them, he's definitely in the second category. But that's easy when your sole aim is to provoke the negative in others, not build anything constructive.

I took the precaution of saving a local copy before what I felt was a very likely to be a round of snipping. I did the same in the early hours of 28th when someone using a strange nym advocated murder leading to protests from myself and Skiphil. I'm that much of a moderation nerd. I like to see the before and after and to reflect what the 'underworld' of bad-s operators are up to.

With that as background, I think we have to empathise with the host. Whatever's quickest for him and any helpers to whom he may delegate. Once he has to explain every decision the time burden becomes much greater - and I speak from past experience.

For myself, I'm extremely grateful that all posts by 'Jimmy Saville', that I'd noticed at least, have now disappeared. And I stand fully by my agreement with you of 9:43 PM. That nasty piece of work was mdgnn or his allies. If so, this won't be the end of similar unedifying moments - though one can never tell what nyms will be deployed next time. But there's been progress through decisive editing by the host in the last few days.

Dec 3, 2012 at 12:36 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

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