Memorandum by Jane and Julian Davis
1. WHY WE
1.1 We are Jane and Julian Davis, we farm
(on a county council smallholding) in Spalding, South Lincolnshire.
Julian has always farmed, in the place that is our home, and is
also an agronomist. Jane is a Nurse, Midwife and Health Visitor
(retired) and has been involved with mainly rural communities
1.2 Our house, which we own, on our tenanted
arable farm, is 930m from a wind farm, and is downwind of the
prevailing wind. The wind farm, comprised of eight wind turbines,
each 100m high at blade tip with 2 MW capacity, became operational
in the summer of 2006. Immediately we started having problems
with the noise and hum coming from the wind turbines.
1.3 By May 2007 we were forced to abandon
our home as a place in which to sleep and live; we currently rent
a property 5 miles away so that our family can live as near a
normal life as possible. Our house is now likely to have a value
of just the land£35K to £50K and is no longer
marketable as a home for people to live in.
1.4 We did not object to the wind farm in
the planning stage as we had no reason to think that there would
be any issues for us and we believed, at that time, that wind
power was a good way of meeting the energy gap.
1.5 As a result of our experiences, including
the fact that to date nothing has been done by anyone even to
attempt to mitigate the noise issues which we suffer, we have
been invited to talk to in excess of 40 communities across the
UK where wind farms are proposed, and occasionally we co-present
with other noise pollution victims from wind farms across the
1.6 Some of those communities have been
in touch with us to suggest, by virtue not only of our own experiences,
but also as a result of enormous interaction with individuals,
groups, and experts in diverse fields relating to wind farms,
that we are in a unique position to submit very relevant evidence
to the Select Committee. We have also presented at the International
Wind turbine Noise Conference held in Lyon in 2007.
1.7 We now know that we suffer from aerodynamic
or amplitude modulation created by the noise from the wind turbine
array. The government has found it necessary to set a specific
measurement for wind turbine noise (ETSU-R-97) and has publicly
acknowledged that aerodynamic modulation is not fully understood
by scientists. This means that no developer can categorically
state that there will not be a noise problem.
1.8 We know that not every wind farm creates
noise issues but those that do make life impossible for those
who live near them. By near we mean within 1.5 miles, or 2 km.
2. OUR RESPONSE
What are the barriers to greater deployment of
2.1 As far as wind farms are concerned,
one of the main barriers to greater deployment is the understandable
negativity with which wind farms are now perceived.
2.2 A deluge of inappropriately and insensitively
sited wind farms has resulted in huge, unprecedented communication
between people across the UK which, in turn, has fostered increasing
cynicism towards wind energy, if not Renewables per se.
2.3 The behaviour of the wind energy industry,
whose tactics to succeed at any price, promotes the impression
that there is something unsavoury about wind farms in the first
place. Therefore, in our view, the wind energy industry has only
itself to blame.
2.4 People generally do have a genuine concern
for their environment, both locally and globally, and do appreciate
the need for security of energy supply.
2.5 However, because these wider concerns
are used tactically by the industry, they leave individuals and
whole communities subsequently feeling that they have been disenfranchised.
beguiled or even duped.
2.6 Noise, with possible consequential health
and flicker from the blades, combine to diminish significantly,
and even eradicate, the ability to enjoy the amenity of one's
home, loss of value of the home itself, all these increasingly
justifiable fears make people very worried. Increasing knowledge
is demonstrating that Wind Turbine Syndrome does exist, and emerging
evidence from across the world does demonstrate the devastating
effects that this can have.
A study into flicker and association with photosensitive epilepsy
has recently been published.
2.7 Many people, rightly in our experience
(appendix 1), are concerned that their property values will fall.
Hopefully not as drastically as our now unmarketable home, but
by 20% at least. Given that successive UK governments have promoted
home ownership and that wind farms, in the main, are built in
small rural areas and villages, this is a significant and greatly
underestimated reason for people strongly resisting wind farms
near their home. Existing studies, even by such eminent bodies
as the RICS have been shown to be flawed in their reporting.
Hansard reports some Local Authorities are already giving discretionary
Council Tax reductions thus acknowledging the devaluation of some
2.8 As far as our issues with noise are
concerned, various investigations have been carried out. The Local
Government Ombudsman has been involved. Her conclusion is that
the noise planning condition (which is the same as, or similar
to, every other noise condition imposed in the country for Wind
Farms, based around ETSU-R-97, the so called industry standard)
is "vague, open to interpretation immeasurable and thus unenforceable".
In our case planning conditions were approved by the Planning
Inspectorate, which is outside the jurisdiction of the Local Government
Ombudsman, so the matter of a non specific planning condition
is now being investigated by the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
2.9 We know that 20% of all current wind
farms have some noise problems, and at the moment at least 5%
of the total operational numbers cause problems that are as bad
as ours. However no-one really knows why, or appears interested
in researching and finding out ways to solve an issue which clearly
has the capacity to increase, if more wind turbines are built
too close to homes. Because the wind energy industry cannot accurately
predict if a site will experience problems with noise, and because
ETSU-R-97, the guidance used by BERR for planning applications
offers no protection to families, wind turbines should never be
sited near homes.
2.10 Therefore our experiences as described
in this paper show that if you have a problem, even when authorities
acknowledge one exists, nothing gets done.
3. OUR RESPONSE
Are there likely to be technological advances
that would make renewable energy cheaper and viable without Government
support in the future?
3.1 We do not have the Scientific knowledge
to be able to answer this, but based on our existing knowledge
we are surprised that more work is not being undertaken to examine
the viability of using geo-thermal applications (as an example,
see Gresham Clacy's work with the DTI in 1993).
Wind energy is highly visible politically, whereas serious study/uptake
of the geo-thermal option remains neglected.
4. OUR RESPONSE
What are the external costs associated with different
forms of renewable energy, such as the impact on rural areas of
an increase in wind farms?
4.1 We have recently written to the Rural
Advocate, Dr Stuart Burgess, about this very subject, with specific
reference to what we see as the fragmentation of rural communities
caused by an impending wind farm application.
As a result of our experiences we have since
early 2007 made ourselves available, at no cost, to groups in
other areas who wish to obtain more information about wind turbines,
and any problems associated with living near them.
4.2 In the past 18 months we have visited
and delivered over 40 presentations. In our experience Wind Farm
developers mainly target small, rural communities. We know that
the industry somewhat insultingly calls these NGA's.
(Naive, Gullible and Apathetic) areas and they are prime targets.
(Not, as we had naively thought, as a result of scientific research
to pinpoint areas of high wind and appropriate locality, but simply
areas where landowners wish to farm "wind turbines"
alongside crops and livestock). Rural communities do not have
the financial resources to fight inappropriate wind turbine applications.
What is interpreted as apathy by developers is often a loss of
morale within communities after prolonged campaigns over wind
4.3 Over this time we have become increasingly
concerned not only about what we see as the fragmentation of small
rural communities that is occurring, driven by some rather unpleasant
tactics adopted by the wind farm developers, but also because
rural communities are by their nature not strong empowered societies
with effective infrastructures. We have also seen evidence of
what we believe to be undemocratic practice across the UK.
5. TACTICS EMPLOYED
(all of which lead the ordinary citizen to become
even more suspicious of and opposed to the proposed development)
5.1 Marshland St James
Norfolk there has been considerable animosity
ever since the wind farm was first mooted. This has now divided
the whole village. Unusuallyin our experiencethis
is the only village where there has been criminal activity, damage
to property, vandalism, arson attacks, and tragically a suicide.
An internet search will give you much of the detail and the Police
Officer leading the Enquiries is Inspector Paul Durham. This wind
farm application has not yet been submitted and all this is still
5.2 Deeping St Nicholas
(our own village), a Wind Farm Committee was
set up to administer the so called community fund that allocates
the village a small percentage of its profits (£30K initially
and £10K annually). A complaint has already been made to
the Parish Council about how this money is administered. My observation
is that small communities (those with less than 2,000 residents)
are often used to raising money for church fabric, community halls,
for specific purposes and specific groupsbut do not have
the infrastructure in place to be able to easily administer unearned
money with no specific target. Much unease and unrest has been
caused, most of it between those who see themselves as "locals"
and those who are perceived as "incomers". The gift
of money with no identified purpose seems to cause more disagreement
than the raising of money for a specific entity.
5.3 Long Benington, Lincolnshire
The aspiring developers, Infinergy, sent a document
to all members of the Development Control committee before a planning
application decision was discussed.
We can confirm, on oath if needs be, that we
have in our possession evidence and proof from South Holland District
Council that all the statements within that document are flawed
and based on false information and unrepresentative data. The
monitoring of noise levels referred to was carried out by the
local Council over 27 hours during the month of October 2007.
That month turned out to have seen the lowest wind speed across
the UK, and thus the turbines were only operating at an unrepresentative
11% during the month. (on average, they usually operate at 25%).
These facts would have been known to the Fenland Wind Farms (our
operators) when they asked South Holland District Council to issue
the statement that provides the basis of the "Wind Prospect
Statement on Deeping St Nicholas". Despite evidence that
this data is inaccurate, there has been no action to rescind the
statement's inaccuracies by the BWEA, which is still using this
5.4 Glyndebourne, Ringmer Sussex.
A version of the Wind Prospect statement was
sent out by the BWEA. [See sec 5.3]. This was submitted as a "Proof
of Evidence" by the Acousticians acting for the Developers
at the Glyndebourne Inquiry. South Holland District Council issued
a rebuttal in part to the Inquiry
5.5 Tynedale Public Inquiry, still in
BWEA statement [see sec 5.3] submitted as a
"Proof of Evidence" by Acousticians acting for the Developers.
Mr & Mrs J Davis will be rebutting this, with evidence, at
the Inquiry, in person.
5.6 Old Hutton Wind Farm Application.
(Banks Development) (South Lakeland District Council)
Banks Development offered, and the Local Tennis
Club have accepted in writing, a sum of money (believed to be
about £19,000). Three of the members of the Tennis Club are
also on the Local Parish Council who had not yet met to consider
the Wind Farm proposal. When the Parish Council did meet later
to discuss and consider the planning application for the wind
farm, those members had to declare their interest and thus the
Parish Council was left not quorate so that matter could not be
acted upon. The villagers, therefore, were effectively robbed
of their rights to put forward a view, whatever those views might
5.7 Mountboy site, Rossie Moor, Angus,
Yelland, Isle of Wight, Berwick, (Toft Hill) and many others
Activists, brought in from elsewhere by the
Developers, set up stalls in local markets and even outside schools
to canvas opinion as to whether people support renewable energy,
and wind power in general. That response was then taken, and the
figures used, to signify support for their specific scheme. As
one would expect, many people were concerned and supported a broad
renewable strategy, but did not expect their support to be submitted
to planning authorities as support for a specific wind farm, which
is quite a different thing altogether. Sometimes children were
encouraged to sign such cards. A similar tactic is employed when
consultations are sent out within Parishes. Those who do not respond
to the so-called consultation are counted as being "broadly
in favour" as they did not actively respond to indicate they
don't want the wind farm.
5.8 "Community Funds" (Bribery.)
These "funds" often come with a caveat
that suggests they will be paid only if there is no significant
opposition to the wind farm. These "funds" represent
a minute fraction of the profits earned by developers, yet are
very tempting to communities.
The photomontages used by developers often misrepresent
the true scale and impact of the development. For example, photomontages
have been criticised for presenting panoramic views, often taken
in weather conditions which further diminish the actual visual
impact (this includes the infrastructure of the wind farm as well
as the wind turbines themselves). This kind of misinformation,
deliberately designed to misguide the public and planning officials
alike, has done much to foster cynicism, frustration and fury
within local communities.
5.10 Planning Regulations
Decentralised planning conditions mean that
there are geographical areas that have numerous wind farms because
planning is undertaken without consistency or coordination and
without any real understanding of the enormity of the cumulative
impact; this can be seen in areas like Cumbria, the Lune valley,
Wales, and Norfolk.
5.11 Time and money
We are quite sure that the Government has no
concept of the immense amount of time, money and emotional energy
expended by villagers, in the vicinity of each inappropriate application.
People are trying not only to protect the visual amenity of the
area in which they live, but also not to lose the very thing which
they have spent their lives working and saving for, notably an
environment that promotes the health and well-being of families,
as well as the peace, tranquillity and amenity of their homes
In our experience, each anti-wind turbine campaign
(or "pro community and local environment campaign"),
costs villages about £100,000 in real terms. If the matter
goes to a public inquiry, then this amount can be tripled. This
tremendous unseen cost represents the loss of important resources
to local government and the communities. Moreover, these processes
and inquiries also breed significant distrust, dislike, and disbelief
in those who set our planning policies, as many appear to accept
as de facto the reports produced by the wind turbine developers
to support their applications, without further investigation or
5.12 Emotional Distress
One current wind farm application in Devon affects
two local smallholding farmers with young families who had bought
a small amount of land from a neighbouring farmer and built log
cabins for the tourist industry. The farmer from whom they purchased
the land has now applied for a wind farm to be built behind the
cabins, some 400m away. This has understandably upset many people
in the area. The emotional distress experienced by these families
is, we understand, mirrored in cases up and down the country.
5.13 Public Inquiries
Public Inquiries for turbine applications can
last for weeks, if not months, the current so called Tynedale
Inquiry being a case in point. The developers persist because
there is so much profit to be made with ROC's. They employ barristers
and their legal teams, in addition to an array of planning consultants,
often for extended periods. Local authorities and campaign groups
struggle to represent local concerns and protect community well-being,
even though financial resources are stretched and strained to
accommodate this process. Such unequal financial burdens may already
be affecting the ability of many councils to address such responsibilities.
Many will be unable to fund proper defence of decisions through
the Appeal Courts.
5.14 Security of Supply
There are two kinds of power, base load, and
reserve (or back up). Wind turbines cannot be used as base load
production as wind generated electricity is not reliable or predictable
enough to allow this.
Developers often use the phrase "local
employment may be created during construction, boosting the local
economy". In our experience "may" is usually a
may NOT, unless you count temporary short-term local contracts
for sand and gravel. The more complex engineering, electrical
and construction works are put out to local tender, and then aspiring
contractors are told"sorry,you do not have
the appropriate expertise"after which the services,
components and workers are brought in from 3rd party suppliers
almost always outside the UK, eg Vesta, Nordex, Re-Power, Hanssen
Transmissions, Suzlon, GE etc.
The role of the BWEA is misunderstood, as many
members of the public believe that it is an independent organisation
set up to give accurate factual information about wind power.
In fact, BWEA is the trade and professional body for the UK onshore
and offshore wind energy industries. In our experience it does
not always present accurate information, as the ASA has pointed
out on several occasions. For example, ASA said that BWEA had
misrepresented CO2 "savings",
Closer to home as already mentioned in our case, BWEA has yet
to correct the misinformation that it has put out about us.. BWEA
has included this misinformation in summaries submitted to Public
Inquiries as part of "Proofs of Evidence". Thus, it
seems that the role of the BWEA is to present misinformation that
benefits the industry.
5.17 Noise and the Nature of Noise
Our own experience and research suggests that
the intrusive nature and the volume, depth, breadth and intensity
of the noise are not yet fully understood. We find it very interesting
that across the world people, such as ourselves, who suffer intensely
from the noise use the same phrases to describe it. Phrases such
as "a toy in a tumble dryer", "a train that never
arrives" "a thumping heartbeat", "someone
blowing in your ears", "two or three helicopters flying
above my house", "a low-pitched, penetrating non-directional
hum", are used by sufferers in Canada, the USA, New Zealand,
Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and other countries. These people
usually experience the problem before realising there are others
who have already been exposed. Yet developers still promise that
noise will not be an issue.
5.17A A reasonable man may question why
it is necessary to hold an "International Wind Turbine Noise
Conference" every two years, outside the UK, with 24 countries
attending over 2.5 days if, as the BWEA would contend, Wind Turbines
are not noisy.
5.17B What the Wind Turbine Noise Does ...
Wind turbine noise is characterised by its loudness, pulsating
character, low frequency component, and its continuous nature
(often 24/7), which combine to affect:
The ability to enjoy the amenity
that is your home (or was)
Concentration making using complex
equipment potentially dangerous
Impaired cognitive ability
Social lives, eg it was no longer
possible for our daughter to have "sleep-overs"
Mood changes and constant tiredness
which leads to increased irritability, feelings of despair, and
feelings of inability to cope with normal day to day activities.
Tiredness means that you become more prone to
accidents, not ideal in any circumstance but dangerous on a farm.
The peculiar noises that the wind turbines emit cannot only be
heard, they can also be felt by the body, and thus trying to rest
becomes impossible. We tried: fans, white noise machines, sleeping
tablets, red wine and ear plugs. The latter mask background noises
but allow the low frequency sound wave to penetrate so that it
feels part of your body. Meanwhile the beat, the pulsation, that
is slightly faster than our human hearts beat, means that you
feel as if you are constantly trying to get your heart to catch
up with this external rhythm that is felt by the body rather than
heard, so rest is impossible. The problem with the noises from
the wind turbines is that they are so unpredictable, and the noise
draws your attention and completely distracts you.
5.18 Safety Issues
There are an ever increasing number of reports
about turbine blades breaking or fracturing and being thrown considerable
distances, also some fires, ice "throws" and a small
number of deaths in the construction phases. People find these
worrying and concerning, particularly when homes are being built
nearer to turbines in the UK than anywhere else in Europe.
5.19 Wildlife Issues
There are reports of raptors and bats being
killed by turbines. Our moles have gone as they cannot tolerate
the vibrations and there are ongoing studies into the effects
on essential fungi and invertebrates at the bottom of the food
chain, which only live in still conditions.
5.20 Changing Specifications
Developers seem to change specifications of
the wind turbines or the siting of the turbines after planning
permissions have been granted with no further amendments or applications,
to the detriment of the visual impact, and more worrying, to the
audible effects on the health and well-being of those living near
the wind turbines. For example, the wind turbines proposed for
Deeping St Nicholas initially had a tower height of 67 metres
and a rotor diameter of 66 metres. In September 2004, 15 months
after the Planning Appeal Decision, Wind Prospect said they wished
to change the turbines to RE Power MM82's with a Tower height
of 59m and a rotor diameter of 82m. The rotor blades are thus
nearly 25% longer, with a corresponding increase in noise, but
no further application, measurements or amendments were undertaken
that we can ascertain.
5.21 Community ownership
Companies such as Energy4all are set up to promote
so-called community ownership within a co-operative set up. The
most recent to come on line were two turbines at Deeping St Nicholas,
the same site that has driven us out of our home. The Financial
Services Authority complained about the proposal and the Company
had to issue a supplementary prospectus correcting many areas
5.22 Local Councils
Local councils do not have the time, equipment
or expertise to measure the specific noise standard applied to
wind farms. Therefore, they rely on the wind industry's measurements,
documentation, and analyses. The councils also have to rely on
the operating company releasing wind and operating conditions
in order to be able to accurately measure the noise emissions.
Councils have no legal powers to insist on a shut down for measurements
of background noise to take place. Hence the Ombudsman's conclusion
(see paragraph 2.8) DEFRA has recently also put out a research
proposal to address this very issue.
We hope that we have been able to impress upon
you why we are so concerned about the behaviour and actions of
the Developers of industrial wind turbine sites. However, we are
also concerned about the long term impact on fragile rural communities
and their futures, particularly when local voices are ignored
and the health and well-being of communities, families, and the
local environment are sacrificed for financial and political expediency.
6 June 2008
38 Appendix 1: Housing Issues Back
p 7 Back
Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural
Experiment (Santa Fe, NM: K-Selected Books). August 2008 Back
Graham Harding, Pamela Harding, Arnold Wilkins (2008) Wind turbines,
flicker, and photosensitive epilepsy: Characterizing the flashing
that may precipitate seizures and optimizing guidelines to prevent
them. Epilepsia. 2008 April 3. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01563.x Back
Sourced from MD of turbine manufacturer. J Lilley. Back
Evidence available. Back
Environmental Protection NOISE and NUISANCE page 10 Research Newsletter
2008-2009 ISSUE 1-May 2008 DEFRA Back