Wind farm’s 40-decibel noise limit debated

By Sharon Hill, Windsor Star

Suncor Energy’s Kent Breeze Wind Farm must meet a noise limit of 40 decibels -about the same level as that of normal conversation -at homes near its proposed wind turbines, Ministry of the Environment engineer John Kowalewski told a hearing this week in Chatham.

But the question in the muchwatched case is whether the decibel calculations are correct and how much noise is needed to cause health problems for residents living near turbines, said lawyer Eric Gillespie, who represents the residents fighting approval of the wind farm.

“A mosquito flying around in your tent when you’re camping is lower than 40 decibels, but very annoying to many people,” Gillespie said Wednesday. “It is the nature of the wind turbine sound like the mosquito or the dripping faucet or the backup beeper that causes many experts to believe wind turbines’ noise should be treated differently.”

The hearing before Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal is the first challenge of a wind farm approved under the Green Energy Act.

Gillespie said the tribunal has already heard excessive noise has been linked to health issues, including sleep disturbance, headaches and nausea.

After three days of the hearing in Chatham next week, closing arguments are expected to be heard April 6 and 7 in Toronto.

6 thoughts on “Wind farm’s 40-decibel noise limit debated

  1. Eric Gillespie should be looking Down Under for some inspiration on the noise front:
    Melbourne and Sydney both prohibit the use of domestic air conditioners overnight if a neighbour can hear them (5dBA above ambient during the day) while in the humid tropics around Cairns and Townsville, the cap is 3dBA at night.

    Air conditioners emit both low frequency noise as well as infrasound.

  2. Notsogullible,

    You inform us of a very good point… you would think the precedent has been set in Australia. There must be other bylaws out there pertaining to allowable decibel noise.

    Airports for example.

  3. Noise is generally governed under municipal codes. And municipal councils are influenced by noise-making industries which supply juicy campaign donations!

    Guess what happens when its a choice between those donations and the public interest??

    Australia is an exception and has a countrywide code of ethics for AC installation which puts COMMUNITY before private interests. That’s actually spelled out in the AIRAH Code of Ethics right up front.

  4. Comparing the 40db repetitive/cyclical/intrusive noise coming from wind turbines to normal conversation is just plain ignorant!!!
    P.S. I am always forced to listen to conversation while reading a book or while sleeping “!@#$%”

  5. Have they fired any up in Chatham Kent yet? How bout a change in venue for next week? Like a living room 550M from a turbine.

  6. I believe a big part of the problem is that turbines are being erected on ground that is all dirt or sand based and we all know that noise travels through the ground. This is the cause of so many people getting sick, that is why they need to be but far far away from where people live. But reality is this is just a big scam and there is nothing green about these things. The greed energy act is what it should be called. In Manitoba people with turbines on there property are paid 6 cents a k hour.

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