Wind farm noise still exceeds acceptable levels, new data reveals

Noise levels at the Fullabrook wind farm are still exceeding acceptable levels, according to a study.

At seven of the eight sites tested between May 2013 and October 2014, the noise levels recorded from the turbines were above the limits set within the planning consent for the development.

North Devon Council’s chief executive has set ESB International, the company which runs the 22-turbine wind farm at West Down, a deadline of December 19 to respond to the findings with a plan of action.

Similar tests were undertaken in 2012, when four of twelve locations failed to hit the required standard.

Environmental protection officer Andy Cole said those figures did not measure ‘tonal noise’ – the low frequency mechanical ‘hum’ noise generated by the turbine, rather than the ‘swoosh’ of the blades – which has now also been measured.

Rewiring work was done in an attempt to alleviate the noise at that time, but now it has been confirmed that noise levels are above those set out by the planning inspector when permission to built the farm was granted in 2007.

North Devon Council’s head of environmental health and housing, Jeremy Mann, said: “It’s very important for us to regulate this appropriately.

“Our action must be proportionate and fair to the community and the operator.

“It wouldn’t be appropriate to say ‘the site’s not compliant, turn it off’.

“People want resolution of the issue and we need to ensure we find a reasonable solution.

“That’s why we are now willing to speak to the managing director of ESB International asking for them to find a way to comply.”

He also said that the site was ‘fully controllable’, which could lead to ESBI having to effectively turn down the turbines.

But Mr Mann said he was optimistic that the company would come up with a suitable solution to the problem, which has attracted complaints from around 30 households.

“Because of our previous dealings with them, we have a degree of confidence,” he said. “It has been an open book from them and they do understand their obligation to secure compliance.”