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Ecocide echo - Josh 251

On the noisiness of wind turbines I have reused an previous cartoon to illustrate this post.

Hope someone is listening.

Cartoons by Josh


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Reader Comments (15)

I'm afraid it's not official. The Government still insists that wind turbines are not noisy and what little noise they do produce is limited by ETSU-R-97 to give people a reasonable level of protection from the noise.

Out in the countryside, where real people live and away from Westminster and DECC, wind turbines are found to be extremely noisy. But what do we country-folk know?

Dec 7, 2013 at 11:18 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Why not have a listen here?

Dec 7, 2013 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterTim Churchill

I guess the one fifth from the right at the back is not working. In other words, it's Bust! And there was me thinking that Boom and Bust had been taken out of the system...

Dec 7, 2013 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket


To me the most disturbing noise is the ultra low frequency noise of the machinery considerably amplified by obvious resonance in the tubular tower structure. Basic physics of vibrating reeds applies.

Dec 7, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterEForster

Noise doesn't have to be loud to cause discomfort / distraction / annoyance. It is the low-frequency & intermittent fluctuation from slow-rotation wind turbines which are the problem.

"Sources and effects of low-frequency noise" By Birgitta Berglunda and Peter Hassmen, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute and Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; and, R. F. Soames Job, Department of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Dec 7, 2013 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

When I read that the owners of Glyndebourne had installed a wind turbine, I hoped for two things:

That they had disconnected themselves from the grid, to prove their 'green' credentials - and let's face it, summer evenings (when the performances are staged) are famous for next-to-no wind...

That the 'Woomph, woomph' was ever-so-slightly out of time with whatever opera they were performing...

Anyone been - and if so - how is it all working out..?

Dec 7, 2013 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

@ Tim Churchill - thanks for the link to MAS Environmental, the "Listening Room" was a sobering experience. The most striking example was the playback alternating between turbines operating and not - this put a true perspective on the situation.

Suffice to say these recordings are wasted on a typical laptop without first connecting up to a decent HiFi system.

Dec 7, 2013 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward


At the time of the launch of the Glyndebourne turbine, several of us technically-minded folk commented on their website, but they did not like this and quickly removed all comments. Basically we said they would have noise problems and wouldn't generate as much electricity as they expected and wouldn't reduce CO2 emissions.

All has gone silent on the noise front, but they do publish performance figures. After 2 years operation the capacity factor has averaged a measly 19.6% compared to their estmate of 28.1% and the mean wind speed has been 5.9m/s compared to their estimate of 6.8m/s. So no surprise there and we were right. Whether they will make money over the lifetime of the turbine is open to doubt, but it is not looking good for them - more green idiots without any technical competence hood-winked by wind developers.

Dec 7, 2013 at 5:18 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

As I am tired of saying, put the wind turbines near the houses of Cameron, Clegg, Miliband, BBC and Guardian bosses etc. If a few years of listening to the noise does not bother them and their families then we can conclude that the noise problem is over-rated.

Dec 7, 2013 at 6:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

One wonders, too, about the effects of noise and vibration on wildlife, especially bats (which are very sensitive to vibration), as well as birds.

Where are all those greenie activists who were so concerned about the effects of submarine military activity on whales and dolphins? I seem to recall that possible impact of same on the sonar of whales, etc, had them very stirred up.

As for low frequency noise, anyone who has had the misfortune to live near a doof doof music fan with nocturnal habits knows that it is not the volume (which can be quite low), but the pitch and intermittency, that keeps sleep at bay for the involuntary listener.

Dec 7, 2013 at 7:52 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

johanna @ Dec 7, 2013 a 7:52 PM:

I used to have a neighbor diagonally across my back fence whose 17-year-old son occasionally fired up a bass guitar and amplifier in their basement, always somewhat late at night. When he started playing, it was so loud inside my house that you couldn't pay attention to anything else. Oddly, you couldn't hear it at all when you stepped outside the house. So the sound waves were apparently traveling through the ground and turning my house into a giant speaker.


I have a friend who owns and lives on a large cattle ranch out in the middle of nowhere in northeastern Colorado. His nearest neighbors are miles away. A couple years ago, dozens of large windmills were erected in his area, several of them within several hundred yards/meters of his house. Last June I went out to do some filming during their spring roundup. Because a lot of other people also showed up to help, I decided to sleep in the back of my pickup truck instead of on the floor inside the house (my truck has a camper shell on it, so I could sleep relatively comfortably protected from the elements). When I first tried to go to sleep, I was kept awake by what sounded like a portable generator running somewhere nearby (several people brought their travel trailers, so I assumed one of them was running a generator). Since I'm a very light sleeper and had forgotten to bring my ear plugs with me, I decided to drive my truck about a half-mile out into one of the pastures to escape the generator noise. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the generator noise was just as loud there too. But here's the odd thing. When I had to step out of the back of the truck for a few minutes when nature called, the generator sound completely disappeared. I could only hear it when I was in the back of the truck. There were three windmills within about 500 yards/meters in different directions from where my truck was parked. I never was able to figure out what caused the generator noise. The only thing I could think of was that it was some weird interaction between the sheet metal body of the truck and the low-frequency noise from the windmills. It took me a very long time to fall asleep that night.

Dec 8, 2013 at 3:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterLynn Clark

Lynn Clark, while your reports are only anecdotes (in the scientific sense), they do highlight that proper research about these things is needed, and has been inhibited.

I am worried about the prospect of every bludger and neurotic within miles amping up "symptoms" and so on, in the hope of compensation. But, there must be ways of getting around that.

Dec 8, 2013 at 12:35 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Your hearing the sound of the generators in your truck would be due to one or more of its dimensions corresponding to one or more of the generators sound wavelengths. This would probably create a standing wave, making the sound much more obvious. The panels of the truck could have acted as passive speakers, vibrating in sympathy with the sound energy, and adding their own harmonics to the mix.

Dec 8, 2013 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Churchill

I am worried about the prospect of every bludger and neurotic within miles amping up "symptoms" and so on, in the hope of compensation. .

I think that's a certainty. Look what happened with mobile phone masts.
Let the Greenies who were happy to use this sort of hysteria against drilling and fracking deal with it.

It would serve them right. (but in reality of course, they'll be off to some new battlefront in the war against sanity)

Dec 8, 2013 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

Tim, it was Lynn Clark who reported on the possible effects of the truck shell on sound and vibration, not me :).

Just want to make it clear who said what.

Kelly, in a previous life I had to deal with letters to the Minister from people who were convinced that mobile phone towers caused everything from cancer to insomnia. It was nonsense, of course, and nowadays you don't hear much about it. Unfortunately, their neurotic bleating resulted in a bunch of stupid regulations about the placement of towers (e.g. not near schools) which have increased the cost and decreased the efficiency of the mobile communication network.

Dec 9, 2013 at 2:25 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

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