AEI Press Release: New Report recaps Wind Farm Noise research, policy in 2009
Press Release: March 1, 2010
New Acoustic Ecology Institute Publication Released:
Wind Farm Noise: 2009 in Review
Includes recent research summaries, context for understanding public concerns, and
consideration of industry trends
During 2009, the Acoustic Ecology Institute has been tracking public concerns about wind farm noise,
while also studying new research papers and industry trade journals and reports in order to get up to
speed on this emerging controversy. AEI’s approach has been the same as we’ve taken to ocean noise
issues since 2004: to do our best to cut through the rhetoric and hyperbole from advocates on both sides
of the issue and get a clearer sense of the state of understanding of these noise impacts, in order to help
inform emerging public policy choices. With wind farm noise, as with ocean noise, the more we learn, the
more obvious it is that there is much we still do not know. And, it’s not nearly as simple as either side in
this increasingly rancorous debate appears to think it is.
While the focus of the report is to digest what was learned in 2009, it also include some over-arching
themes and bigger-picture context that serves as a useful introduction to those who are new to the
consideration of the effects of wind farm noise on people living nearby.
The report balances sensitivity to the experiences of some wind farm neighbors who have been affected
by higher than expected noise levels (including some cases of excessive sleep disruption and even
abandonment of homes) within a larger context that recognizes that most wind farms do not trigger noise
complaints, and that many or most wind farm neighbors who can hear
the turbines are not especially
bothered by the noise.
An extended section of the report addresses noise limits, introducing the many metrics used to measure
and analyze sound, and considering several factors that seem to confound well-designed noise models,
including quiet rural night-time conditions, amplitude modulation, and wind shear and other related
Ten pages of the report centers on brief lay summaries of recent research and comprehensive reports,
including studies of sound propagation, wind shear, and acoustic modeling, effects on wildlife, and
annoyance responses among neighbors.
To conclude, the report suggests that both the industry and local activist groups are contributing to the
current polarity of denial and fear about noise impacts, and that part of the problem may be that we are
facing a situation that includes some fundamental paradoxes that lead scientific studies to come to
reassuring conclusions despite negative impacts on a significant minority of people within earshot. We
must directly face some social choices about how much impact is considered acceptable.
Finally, the report looks ahead at key themes likely to play out in 2010 and beyond.
To download the 35-page report, see http://AcousticEcology.org/spotlight_windfarmnoise2009.html
For more information, contact Jim Cummings, AEI Executive Director