Note: The British Medical Journal is an international peer reviewed journal of medicine.
The evidence for adequate sleep as a prerequisite for human health, particularly child health, is overwhelming. Governments have recently paid much attention to the effects of environmental noise on sleep duration and quality, and to how to reduce such noise.1 However, governments have also imposed noise from industrial wind turbines on large swathes of peaceful countryside.
The impact of road, rail, and aircraft noise on sleep and daytime functioning (sleepiness and cognitive function) is well established.1 Shortly after wind turbines began to be erected close to housing, complaints emerged of adverse effects on health. Sleep disturbance was the main complaint.2 Such reports have been dismissed as being subjective and anecdotal, but experts contend that the quantity, consistency, and ubiquity of the complaints constitute epidemiological evidence of a strong link between wind turbine noise, ill health, and disruption of sleep.3
The noise emitted by a typical onshore 2.5 MW wind turbine has two main components. A dynamo mounted on an 80 m tower is driven through a gear train by blades as long as 45 m, and this generates both gear train noise and aerodynamic noise as the blades pass through the air, causing vortices to be shed from the edges. Wind constantly changes its velocity and direction, which means that the inflowing airstream is rarely stable. In addition, wind velocity increases with height (wind shear), especially at night, and there may be inflow turbulence from nearby structures—in particular, other turbines. This results in an impulsive noise, which is variously described as “swishing” and “thumping,” and which is much more annoying than other sources of environmental noise and is poorly masked by ambient noise.4 5
Permitted external noise levels and setback distances vary between countries. UK guidance, ETSU-R-97, published in 1997 and not reviewed since, permits a night time noise level of 42 dBA, or 5 dBA above ambient noise level, whichever is the greater. This means that turbines must be set back by a minimum distance of 350-500 m, depending on the terrain and the turbines, from human habitation.
The aerodynamic noise generated by wind turbines has a large low frequency and infrasound component that is attenuated less with distance than higher frequency noise. Current noise measurement techniques and metrics tend to obscure the contribution of impulsive low frequency noise and infrasound.6 A laboratory study has shown that low frequency noise is considerably more annoying than higher frequency noise and is harmful to health—it can cause nausea, headaches, disturbed sleep, and cognitive and psychological impairment.7 A cochlear mechanism has been proposed that outlines how infrasound, previously disregarded because it is below the auditory threshold, could affect humans and contribute to adverse effects.8
Sixteen per cent of surveyed respondents who lived where calculated outdoor turbine noise exposures exceeded 35 dB LAeq (LAeq, the constant sound level that, in a given time period, would convey the same sound energy as the actual time varying sound level, weighted to approximate the response of the human ear) reported disturbed sleep.4 A questionnaire survey concluded that turbine noise was more annoying at night, and that interrupted sleep and difficulty in returning to sleep increased with calculated noise level.9 Even at the lowest noise levels, 20% of respondents reported disturbed sleep at least one night a month. In a meta-analysis of three European datasets (n=1764),10 sleep disturbance clearly increased with higher calculated noise levels in two of the three studies.
In a survey of people residing in the vicinity of two US wind farms, those living within 375-1400 m reported worse sleep and more daytime sleepiness, in addition to having lower summary scores on the mental component of the short form 36 health survey than those who lived 3-6.6 km from a turbine. Modelled dose-response curves of both sleep and health scores against distance from nearest turbine were significantly related after controlling for sex, age, and household clustering, with a sharp increase in effects between 1 km and 2 km.11 A New Zealand survey showed lower health related quality of life, especially sleep disturbance, in people who lived less than 2 km from turbines.12
A large body of evidence now exists to suggest that wind turbines disturb sleep and impair health at distances and external noise levels that are permitted in most jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom. Sleep disturbance may be a particular problem in children,1 and it may have important implications for public health. When seeking to generate renewable energy through wind, governments must ensure that the public will not suffer harm from additional ambient noise. Robust independent research into the health effects of existing wind farms is long overdue, as is an independent review of existing evidence and guidance on acceptable noise levels.
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1527
Competing interests: Both authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; CDH has given expert evidence on the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep and health at wind farm planning inquiries in the UK and Canada but has derived no personal benefit; he is a member of the board of the Society for Wind Vigilance; AE has written letters of objection on health grounds to wind farm planning applications in Ireland.
Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Christopher D Hanning, honorary consultant in sleep medicine 1,
Alun Evans, professor emeritus 2
1 Sleep Disorders Service, University Hospitals of Leicester, Leicester General Hospital, Leicester LE5 4PW, UK
2 Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University of Belfast, Institute of Clinical Science B, Belfast, UK
3/10/12 Does the contract say the wind developer gets to tear up your land? It sure does. As long as he 'restores' it to what he thinks is reasonably close to what he says it was like before he got there. (P.S. If you signed on with a wind developer, hope you took your 'before' pictures!)
EXELON SAYS IT'S WORKING WITH UPSET LANDOWNERS
“To say landowners are irate is putting it mildly,” said Fred Hasen, Huron County Planning Commission chairman.
By Kate Hessling, Assistant News Editor,
Source: Huron Daily Tribune, www.michigansthumb.com
March 10, 2012
ELKTON — A spokesman from Exelon Corp. said Friday the company is working one-on-one with landowners in the Harvest Wind II project to address concerns about land being damaged because of preliminary construction activities for the 59.5 megawatt expansion of Harvest Wind I.
During Wednesday’s Huron County Planning Commission meeting, officials said they had been contacted by landowners in the project area, which includes land in McKinley, Chandler and Oliver townships, because they had concerns that contractors installing underground electrical cables have not been respectful of the farm land, and they fear the activities will affect the condition of the land in the spring.
“To say landowners are irate is putting it mildly,” said Fred Hasen, Huron County Planning Commission chairman.
Bob Judge, communications manager for Exelon Corp., said in the process of trenching land to install underground electrical cable, there have been some issues with equipment because the ground hasn’t frozen as deep as it normally would in this milder-than-normal winter.
“We are handling this situation … and Harvest Wind II will restore the land to the conditions (that existed) before construction,” Judge said, noting conditions in the lease agreements with landowners require the project restore the land to pre-construction conditions. “We are dealing with landowners on a one-to-one basis as this issue arises.”
Exelon still needs final site plan review approval before any wind turbines are erected, and building and zoning officials said the concerns of area landowners will be a topic of discussion when Exelon comes before the planning commission for final approval for its work in McKinley Township.
Oliver and Chandler townships are not under the county’s zoning jurisdiction, but concerns of those landowners will be discussed at the county-level because they are Huron County citizens, planners said Wednesday.
Hasen said Exelon, as well as other wind developers, need to remember they are guests of Huron County, using Huron County’s resources, as wind development projects progress.
Judge said Exelon understands some temporary damage has occurred, and it will restore the land to its pre-digging condition once the trenching is done.
He said trenching began earlier this year, and the project currently is in the beginning phase of construction. Turbine assembly is expected to take place this summer, and the project is expected to be operational by the end of this year.
Project officials previously stated the project will consist of 30 turbines if it uses 2-megawatt turbines and 32 to 33 turbines if it uses 1.8-megawatt turbines.
In the Harvest Wind I project, there are five turbines in Chandler Township and 27 in Oliver.
3/10/12 Two reasons wind developer are happy: 1: Now law in Wisconsin : Industrial scale wind turbines over 40 stories tall can be sited just 1250 feet -- or less than 500 steps----from your door. What's that like? AND 2: We kill eagles, and the federal government lets us because we're wind developers!
HEALTH WOES FORCE FAMILY TO MOVE AWAY FROM TURBINES
SOURCE The Cap Times, host.madison.com
March 8, 2012
On May 8, 2011, I left my home in Glenmore due to many health problems that are a result from the Shirley wind project built at the end of 2010. Inside my home, I was able to detect when the turbines were turning on and off by the uncharacteristic sensation in my ears. In early 2011, I started noticing extreme headaches, ear pain and sleep deprivation, all three things that had been either a rarity for me, or nonexistent. This caused me to struggle especially with my high school work. After staying away from my home for a week and a half, my symptoms started to subside. The longer I was away, the better I felt.
Due to these health issues, I spent all summer living in a camper with my family away from the turbines, only returning to the Shirley area when necessary. It would take me around three days after being in the area for my ears to drain and for pressure to release from my head. At the end of August, my family reluctantly purchased another small house away from the wind turbines, leaving us paying two mortgages. Through no fault of our own, this has put a financial burden on my family.
I have not been in the Shirley area since Nov. 19 and I do not experience headaches anymore and I can sleep soundly. My ears, however, are still sensitive to the cold and loud noises and they hurt with every cold I get. I wonder if this damage to my ears will ever go away.
The magnitude of this issue is of utmost importance to me and many other citizens living near the Shirley industrial wind turbines.
WINDMILLS VS. BIRDS
By Robert Bryce,
SOURCE The Wall Street Journal, wsj.com
March 7, 2012
For years, the wind energy industry has had a license to kill golden eagles and lots of other migratory birds. It’s not an official license, mind you.
But as the bird carcasses pile up—two more dead golden eagles were recently found at the Pine Tree wind project in Southern California’s Kern County, bringing the number of eagle carcasses at that site to eight—the wind industry’s unofficial license to kill wildlife is finally getting some serious scrutiny.
Some 77 organizations—led by the American Bird Conservancy, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Endangered Species Coalition and numerous chapters of the Audubon Society—are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to toughen the rules for the siting, permitting and operation of large-scale wind projects.
It’s about time. Over the past two decades, the federal government has prosecuted hundreds of cases against oil and gas producers and electricity producers for violating some of America’s oldest wildlife-protection laws: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Eagle Protection Act.
But the Obama administration—like the Bush administration before it—has never prosecuted the wind industry despite myriad examples of widespread, unpermitted bird kills by turbines. A violation of either law can result in a fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for two years.
The renewed focus on bird kills is coming at a bad time for the wind industry, which is being hammered by low natural-gas prices and a Congress unwilling to extend the 2.2 cents per-kilowatt-hour production tax credit that has fueled the industry’s growth in recent years.
Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported that about 70 golden eagles are being killed per year by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, about 20 miles east of Oakland, Calif. A 2008 study funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency estimated that about 2,400 raptors, including burrowing owls, American kestrels, and red-tailed hawks—as well as about 7,500 other birds, nearly all of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—are being killed every year by the turbines at Altamont.
A pernicious double standard is at work here. And it riles Eric Glitzenstein, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who wrote the petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He told me, “It’s absolutely clear that there’s been a mandate from the top” echelons of the federal government not to prosecute the wind industry for violating wildlife laws.
Mr. Glitzenstein comes to this issue from the left. Before forming his own law firm, he worked for Public Citizen, an organization created by Ralph Nader. When it comes to wind energy, he says, “Many environmental groups have been claiming that too few people are paying attention to the science of climate change, but some of those same groups are ignoring the science that shows wind energy’s negative impacts on bird and bat populations.”
That willful ignorance may be ending. The Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife recently filed a lawsuit against officials in Kern County, Calif., in an effort to block the construction of two proposed wind projects—North Sky River and Jawbone—due to concerns about their impact on local bird populations. The groups oppose the projects because of their proximity to the deadly Pine Tree facility, which the Fish and Wildlife Service believes is killing 1,595 birds, or about 12 birds per megawatt of installed capacity, per year.
The only time a public entity has pressured the wind industry for killing birds occurred in 2010, when California brokered a $2.5 million settlement with NextEra Energy Resources for bird kills at Altamont. The lawyer on that case: former attorney general and current Gov. Jerry Brown, who’s now pushing the state to get 33% of its electricity from renewables by 2020.
Bats are getting whacked, too. The Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates that wind turbines killed more than 10,000 bats in the state in 2010.
Despite the toll that wind turbines are taking on wildlife, the wind industry wants to keep its get-out-of-jail-free card. Last May, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed new guidelines for wind-turbine installations. But the American Wind Energy Association quickly panned the proposed rules as “unworkable.”
Given that billions of dollars are at stake, the wind industry’s objections don’t surprise Mr. Glitzenstein. And while the lawyer wants more thorough environmental review of proposed wind projects, what he’s really hoping for is a good federal prosecution. So far, he says, the Interior Department has been telling the wind industry: “‘No matter what you do, you need not worry about being prosecuted.’ To me, that’s appalling public policy.”
3/6/12 Your life in their hands: Will SB 50 be voted on today? Will it pass? If it doesn't, it's a wind developer's dream come true. Rural Wisconsin residents get the nightmare.
Rules. Referred to Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce, and
RED ALERT! RED ALERT! CALL TO ACTION!
One year ago the JCRAR suspended PSC 128- (uniform rules for siting wind projects in the state of Wisconsin)
The JCRAR found that the rules contained in PSC 128 "create an emergency relating to public health, safety, or welfare; are arbitrary and capricious; and impose an undue hardship on landowners and residents adjacent to wind turbine sites".
Senate Bill 50 -- which may come up for a vote on Tuesday, will scrap PSC 128, and task the Public Service Commssion with coming up with rules that protect the health, safety and welfare, and do not cause undue hardship on landowners and residents living in wind projects. In the mean time, more protective local ordinances adopted by many Towns in Wisconsin will stand.
WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW TO HELP:
Please make EVERY call and send EVERY email you can. Every person's call and email is counted, and will make a difference.
Call and email the legislators on the list below and ask them to vote in favor of SB 50 (the wind siting bill). If you call after business hours you can still leave a message on their voice mail. You can also send a fax.
You can make a big difference today that will help rural Badgers across the entire state.
CALL, EMAIL AND FAX LIST
Robert Cowles (R) Sen.Cowles@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(800) 334-1465 Fax:(608) 267-0304
Alberta Darling (R) Sen.Darling@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-5830 Fax:(608) 267-0588
Michael Ellis (R) Sen.Ellis@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-0718 Fax:(608) 267-6798
Scott Fitzgerald (R) Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone(608) 266-5660: Fax:(608) 267-6795
Pam Galloway (R) Sen.Galloway@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-2502 Fax:(608) 267-9027
Glenn Grothman (R) Sen.Grothman@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(800) 662-1227 Fax:608) 282-3560
Sheila Harsdorf (R) Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-7745 Fax:(608) 267-0369
Neal Kedzie (R) Sen.Kedzie@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-2635 Fax:(608) 282-3551
Frank Lasee (R) Sen.Lasee@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-3512 Fax:(608) 267-6792
Mary Lazich (R) Sen.Lazich@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(800) 334-1442 Fax:(608) 267-6790
Joe Leibham (R) Sen.Leibham@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(888) 295-8750 Fax:(608) 282-3549
Terry Moulton (R) Sen.Moulton@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-7511 Fax:(608) 282-3563
Luther Olsen (R) Sen.Olsen@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-0751 Fax:(608) 267-4350
Dale Schultz (R) Sen.Schultz@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(800) 978-8008 Fax:(608) 267-0375
Leah Vukmir (R) Sen.Vukmir@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-2512 Fax:(608) 267-0367
Van Wanggaard (R) Sen.Wanggaard@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(866) 615-7510 Fax:(608) 282-3561
Rich Zipperer (R) Sen.Zipperer@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-9174 Fax:(608) 282-3573
Tim Carpenter (D) Sen.Carpenter@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(800) 249-8173 Fax:608) 282-3543
Spencer Coggs (D) Sen.Coggs@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(877) 474-2000 Fax:(608) 282-3546
Tim Cullen (D) Sen.Cullen@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(800) 334-1468 Fax:(608) 282-3555
Jon Erpenbach (D) Sen.Erpenbach@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(888) 549-0027 Fax:(608) 266-2508
Dave Hansen (D) Sen.Hansen@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(866) 221-9395 Fax:(608) 267-6791
Jim Holperin (D) Sen.Holperin@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-2509 Fax:(608) 267-0309
Robert Jauch (D) Sen.Jauch@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(800) 469-6562 Fax:(608) 266-3580
Chris Larson (D) Sen.Larson@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-7505 Fax:(608) 282-3547
Julie Lassa (D) Sen.Lassa@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-3123 Fax:(608) 282-3564
Mark Miller (D) Sen.Miller@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:877) 862-4825 Fax:(608) 282-3556
Fred Risser (D) Sen.Risser@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-1627 Fax:608) 266-1629
Lena Taylor (D) Sen.Taylor@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-5810 Fax:(608) 282-3544
Kathleen Vinehout (D) Sen.Vinehout@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(877) 763-6636 Fax:(608) 267-2871
Jessica King (D) Sen.King@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(888) 736-8720 Fax:(608) 282-3558
Jennifer Shilling (D) Sen.Shilling@legis.wisconsin.gov Phone:(608) 266-5490 Fax:(608) 282-3572