Wind farm Woodlane

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Noise regulations favour the wind industry at the expense of people living nearby.

The noise rules have resulted in turbines placed too close to where people live, with real, negative impacts on people, their health, well-being, peace of mind and financial status. In far too many cases, these adverse effects have been severe, and borne not by the greater community, but by those individual families who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in an unlivable situation caused by improperly sited turbines.

Unlike other urban or suburban sounds, or loud industrial noise, or traffic noise, those living near turbines report being unable to get used to the noise. Rather, reports describe that affected populations become increasingly sensitive to it. Employees in loud factories, or people exposed to traffic noises, or other noises can usually get away from them at home. Because turbine generated noise occurs at home, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, individuals cannot escape it.

The Big Issues       

Key Issue 2 - Wind turbine noise regulations need revising.

The noise rules are out of date, inadequate and should be subject to a comprehensive review.

The only way to resolve problems is via  an expensive Court Case - see two case case studies.

Noise is complex and there was little understanding of the turbine noise when ETSU 97 was drafted in 1996.  

The peak noise level is not measured, so the swish sound does not count and has no limit imposed.

The measurement system favours the industry over the needs of residents. The way that background measurements are taken and the characteristic of the sound that is measured favours the wind industry. More details about noise and the way it is measured - click here.

The WHO in its reports “Guidelines for Community Noise” and “Report of the Third Meeting on Night Noise Guidelines” recommends that night time sound levels should be less than 30 dBA to protect children’s health.

The International Standards Organization (ISO), an independent organization in ISO 1996-1971 recommends a maximum noise limit of 25 dBA for night time in rural communities.

The only review taking place is one by Hayes McKenzie  partnership ( HMP) which is to make recommendations designed to ensure greater consistency in the way that ETSU 97 is applied. HMP conduct noise background noise measurements for many of the wind farm developers so it is difficult to see how the study will be un-biased.

There should be a comprehensive review of wind farm noise regulations - including:-

Rural Noise limits







Night time

43dB or L90+5dB



The UK noise conditions for wind turbines are known as ETSU 97 - when introduced in 1997 it was said that they should be reviewed within a year. No such review has taken place.

There are many complaints from residents that noise levels from turbines are excessive - the current rules do not protect residents.

Noise problems when they do occur can be so serious that people are unable to sleep.

The rules permit more noise at night than during the day.

ETSU 97 permits more noise from turbines than limits recommended by other organisations.