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AEI Press Release: New Report recaps Wind Farm Noise research, policy in 2009


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Press release summarizing the new Acoustic Ecology Institute publication Wind Farm Noise: 2009 in Review.

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AEI Press Release: New Report recaps Wind Farm Noise research, policy in 2009

  1. 1.   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 atmospheric conditions. 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 For more information, contact Jim Cummings, AEI Executive Director 505-566-1879