Island family abandons home because of wind farm

Darrell Cole
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ELMIRA, P.E.I. - Dwayne Bailey has some simple advice for Gulf Shore residents fighting a proposed wind farm in their area, don't give up the fight because they may regret the consequences.

Bailey recently abandoned his Elmira, P.E.I., home because noise from a nearby wind farm was becoming intolerable. It kept the family awake at night and impacted their health with headaches and vision problems.

"Don't let them put up the windfarm, it's way too close to the houses. It chased us out of our house and it could happen to someone else. We didn't have much a choice and it resulted in us leaving our home," Bailey said, adding his parents also abandoned their home.

The nearest turbine to Bailey's former home is about a kilometre away. Still, the noise generated was similar to a washing machine whose load is off to one side. He said it also sounded like the propellor of a small aircraft.

Gulf Shore residents are fighting a proposed development by Atlantic Wind Power Corporation that will see between 20 and 27 100-metre high turbines constructed between the Gulf Shore Road and the Irishtown Road.

"It was not pleasant living there," said Bailey, who moved his family to another home 25 kilometres aways. "They're very loud. You could hear them over the cars on the road or if you're having a conversation with someone."

The P.E.I. Energy Corporation responded to Bailey's complaints last winter by hiring Jacques Whitford to assess the wind farm noise level. Bailey has been told of the study's results but isn't buying the findings because he thinks the testing was flawed.

Corporation CEO Wayne MacQuarrie did not respond to a call for comment.

Organizations: Bailey's, Atlantic Wind Power, P.E.I. Energy

Geographic location: Gulf Shore Road, Irishtown Road

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Recent comments

  • Richard
    January 18, 2010 - 11:18

    The Baily's are not the first to have to move because of wind turbine noise. There are widespread instances of improper noise studies resulting in subsequent distress. I have documented reports from all over the world - UK, Sweden, Australia, Germany, U.S. and Canada. Families in Germany, Nova Scotia and the U.K. have also had to move away. And its probably fortunate they did. Some newer studies are showing long term exposure can cause Vibro-Acoustic Disease, and its documented (Germany) that epileptic seizures will increase due to proximity to the turbines. I am currently getting ready to release a noise analysis in rebuttal to a poorly done follow-up study at the notorious Mars Hill, Maine facility. I would be pleased to assist Mr. Bailey as well.

  • G
    January 18, 2010 - 11:14

    I start from the premise that wind power and its associated turbines may be acceptable where the potential for conflict with the scale and character of the local environment has been substantially mitigated and remedies exist to ensure that the owners of wind turbines continue to be held responsible for any adverse impacts that may arise from the operation of what is essentially a for profit enterprise, regardless of its green trappings..
    The World Health Organization (WHO) has studied the issue of noise extensively. WHO guidelines say that for good sleep, sound level should not exceed 30 dB(A) for continuous background noise, and individual noises events exceeding 45 dB(A) should be avoided. In a rural environment; background noise is typically less than 30 dB at night.
    Wind turbines create noise and there is a large and growing body of evidence suggesting that this harms those living in the vicinity of wind power developments. Wind farm developers need to be held accountable for noise levels on an ongoing basis and to the extent possible, adverse effects should be contained within the boundaries of the wind energy development.
    As evidenced in this reported case, some politicians in their rush to green; support inadequate set backs that effectively shield developers from their potential liabilities. In the Pugwash proposal for a wind power development, Cumberland County N.S. has established set backs that are measured from habitations on somebody elses property. A wind turbine can be built on your lot line and deny you the opportunity to develop your own property. This is at best poor policy; at worst expropriation.

  • Dawn
    January 18, 2010 - 11:04

    Mr. Bolton, as a resident of Mars Hill living on the eastern side of the mountain, I have joined in a forum regarding the windmill noise and admit to being somewhat confused regarding the noise study done and how to interpret the data. Would you join us on the forum? We would be grateful for your opinion and data interpretations.

  • Jane
    January 18, 2010 - 10:45

    My name is Jane Davis and my home is+ 930 m from Deeping st Nicholas Wind farm just south of Spalding in South Lincolnshire. (UK) There are 6 other houses a similar distance away from the turbines but ours is the only one downwind of the prevailing wind and our nearest neighbours are ¼ to ½ mile away. The wind farm was built last summer and became operational in early June within 3 days we started having problems with the noise and hum emanating from the wind farm.

    I seek to present our case in areas where I believe a misrepresentation has been made as to the realities of living next to wind farm. I have also presented at many public meetings and Parish Councils across the United Kingdom in pursuit of raising public awareness of the grave devastation that wind turbines can cause to ordinary people, and the amenities that were their homes. I accept that not every wind farm creates noise issues, but those that do make life impossible for those who live near them and by near I mean less than 2km or 1.5 miles.
    Approximately 10% of currently operating wind farms create problems for nearby residents that are sufficiently severe that those residents are no longer able to enjoy the amenity that is their home. We are part of that 10%, and our loss has been such that we have been forced to effectively rent an alternative property some 5 miles away in order to be able to sleep, rest and relax. After spending many nights sofa-surfing we reached the conclusion in December that we had to do this in order to be able to work and live safely with a normal amount of sleep.

    We did not object to the windfarm in the planning stage as we did not believe that there would be any issues for us, and we believed that wind power was a good way of meeting the energy gap. We did read some negative reports on the internet but could not believe there would be any issues for us as we were never specifically consulted, nor were any background noise readings taken at our house. We are mindful to be cognisant of the need for renewable energy, I too am mindful of this but if we had been reliant on our wind farm for our electricity needs for the past month we would have been using a lot of camping gas as they have only run properly for 3 days out of the past 30!
    Since last June we have had constant issues with loud noises and low frequency sounds that create a hum in the house all the time. We have kept a log throughout. Many times last summer as we are downwind of the prevailing wind we were woken by loud WHOOSHING noises, that stopped us sleeping for more than 4 hours a night. We informed our local environmental health department in June and they came out and were astonished at the loud noise recordings that they made. The Developers have had acoustic kit in our house, for a month from October to November last year, but we have yet to see the full results. Given that ETSU (UK Noise Regs just for wind farms) means that you can fire a shotgun outside someones bedroom window every 6 seconds for 10 minutes and that this noise would not breach ETSU you may begin to realise just how severe the problems can be for us and that this noise is currently unpredictable.

    As the governments current preferred measure for assessing the noise from wind turbines is ETSU-R-97, which has a similar effect to averaging out noise peaks over a period of time there is no remedy under existing British law to assist us.

    We now know that although we were initially told less than 5% of wind farms have this problem the reality is over 10% and research has been undertaken by the DTI & DEFRA which will be reported soon that will give further and better information on this. We hope that other research will follow.

    The problem is particularly acute in rural areas, and specifically where relatively isolated properties are downwind of the predominant wind direction. ETSU-R-97 makes the point that it is not necessary to use a margin above background in low noise environments. This is considered to be unduly restrictive on developments which are regarded as having wider national and global benefits. .
    In other words it is necessary to sacrifice the amenities of a few peoples homes for the greater good. In a country where home ownership has been regarded as an aspiration for everyone who wishes to have it, to have your home destroyed by a different policy is very difficult to understand.
    Wind turbine noise isnt just about decibels; its about the character of the noise, combined with lower frequencies. The sound pressure waves produced by wind turbines are such that it isnt just about hearing its about feeling as well.
    We now know that we also suffer from a phenomenon known as aerodynamic or amplitude modulation. We also know that in general, turbines are noisier now than in 1993. (Hayes McKenzie Partnership Acoustic Experts in a report for Angus Council, Forfar, Scotland. June 2004). This seems to support the fact that the government found it necessary to set a specific measurement for wind turbine noise, and that there is a Noise Working Group that operates between DTI & DEFRA.

    Aerodynamic modulation is not fully understood; Dr McKenzie from the Hayes McKenzie partnership is quoted in the closing statements in April 2007 for the South Cambridgeshire District Council Inquiry explaining that: Aerodynamic modulation exists, but there is no clear understanding as to what causes it.
    1.It causes sleep disruption.
    2.It is not covered by ETSU.
    3.This site (Deeping St Nicholas) is a likely candidate.
    4.There is a need to assess and potentially apply a correction to ETSU.

    The DTI do now accept that AM exists, that it is not fully understood, and cannot be predicted as to where or when it will occur, which by definition also means it cannot be fixed. The DTI also acknowledge that the current science isnt able to assist as I speak.

    What I find astounding is that wind farm developers and land owners will still promote what I can only refer to as terminological inexactitudes such as:

    Modern wind farms are generally quiet
    property Values are not affected (Our house which would previously have been worth about £180,000K is now likely to have a value of just the land 35K to 50K ..and would not be marketable as a home for people to live in any longer. And finally
    I can categorically state that there is no significant infrasound from modern turbines.

    If the latter is true why we have a report from Malcolm Hayes that acknowledges that we do have low frequency at home.

    What is also very worrying is the work by Professor Mariana Alves-Pereira from the Portugal who has made a direct scientific link to Vibro-Acoustic Disease from the infrasound created by Wind Turbines. The paper in its entirety will be presented at internoise2007 in Istanbul.
    She presents a view that says that if we accept now that radiation is dangerous even though we cannot see it or feel it, how many people have to become ill and die before infrasound or low frequency is seen in the same light?
    Where does the infrasound come from? Helpfully Sound Solutions Acoustic Consultants in their assessment and rating of noise report for the proposed wind turbine near Glyndebourne provide us with part of the answer:
    Mechanical noise may be radiated by the containing structure of the source, or by parts of the turbine structure which have a direct mechanical linkage to the source. Supporting towers are large up to 45 metre in height, from which acoustic energy may be radiated. These large radiating surfaces can result in the efficient transmission of the vibrational energy into the external environment surrounding a wind turbine.

    Vibrational energy = low frequency or infrasound sound waves.

    Both we and Prof Alves-Pereira, along with other distinguished authors including Mr. Hayes, will be presenting papers at wind turbine noise 2007 in Lyon in September. A question you may wish to ask yourself is why a bi-annual International Conference on wind turbine noise needs to be held if there are no noise issues from wind turbines?

    We also know, and Fritz Van den berg also acknowledges that stable air conditions do create significant wind shear and it is possible that they may also contribute to amplitude modulation. The shear effect does seem to create more noise of all types- from the turbines generally, partly because at ground level there is no wind but at hub and blade height the warmer air is causing the blades to merrily and noisily rotate.

    It is Sir, ladies and gentlemen my absolute conviction that wind turbines do not belong as near homes as these are currently proposed, and that the Science to understand how turbines work in the ever changing climate and wind directions that we have here, is not yet fully understood. Thus their impact cannot be predicted.

    Therefore no absolute guarantees can be given by anyone that residents, particularly those downwind of this proposed wind farm will not suffer from noise or low frequency issues for which there is no proven remedy, legal or otherwise, available in the UK to protect them. ETSU-R-97 simply does not protect those in rural areas with pre-existing low background noise levels.

    Jane Davis Julian Davis