Wind farm report hot air: Expert

John Harrison, Professor Ph.D.

By Danielle VandenBrink, Whig Standard
A report released Friday by the Ontario government that claims sound generated by wind farms poses no health risk to nearby residents is being dismissed by a wind-farm opponent from Amherst Island. “The ministry (of the environment) and wind industry keep on saying that there is no direct health risk, but they are wrong,” said Amherst Island resident John Harrison, a retired Queen’s University physics professor who was consulted during the creation of the report.

The report analysed findings on the low-frequency noise emitted from wind turbines. Its authors determined current regulations— which include a 550-metre minimum setback from homes and a 40-decibel noise limit — are safe for those living nearby.

Three experts in the field of noise, vibration and acoustics agree with the report’s conclusions, the government said.

Harrison says the government continues to ignore key facts.

“The problem is the sin of omission,” he said, citing instances of adverse health effects for people living near wind farms from the low-frequency noise, or “swooshing” sound from the turbines.

“Once you have something repetitive like that, you just can’t get away from it,” he said. “That’s why people are so annoyed by this turbine noise.”

Citing studies from the Netherlands and Sweden, Harrison said that annoyance could lead to adverse health effects, such as sleep deprivation.

“What we have in some ways are indirect health risks, in that one thing leads to another,” he said.

Ontario’s push to phase out coal-fired plants by 2014 has opened the door to dozens of wind, solar and biomass projects across the province in recent years, including the 86-turbine Wolfe Island wind project that began commercial operation in 2009.

Developer Algonquin Power is in the process of submitting an application to the provincial government to construct 33 turbines on Amherst Island, opposition for which has been fierce.

Harrison said the government’s most recent study fails to provide information about how the proximity of each turbine affects the sound. Because the large blades on the turbines cause air to become turbulent as it passes through, the low-frequency noise is heightened as air goes from one turbine to the next, he said.

The closer the turbines, the more noticeable the noise, he said.

“Their predictions carry uncertainty and (they) have to acknowledge the ‘swishing’ sound,” he said.

Harrison said he would also like the province to measure turbine noise from inside nearby homes, something he says the authors of this report did not do.

“People are finding that their sleep is disturbed because they can’t get to sleep,” he said, “so what you want to find out is what the noise (level) is inside the house.”

6 thoughts on “Wind farm report hot air: Expert

  1. We can all agree that most claims by the Provincial Government, the Wind Lobby and the Wind Company about what these IWT’s can do and what they don’t do is nothing more than out and out “Greenwashing”! (LIES)
    About a year ago there was an outcry across North America, specially in the U.S. that “Greenwashing” should be made illegal!
    I think it’s about time to raise this issue again as it has become rampant and is being practiced by the above 3 groups in epidemic proportions!

    • Production of more propaganda by the present government in an attempt to prove that IWTs pose no health problems. Propaganda always has a “grain” of truth in it but nothing more.

  2. Courts and tribunals consider the IWT “noise’ production issues to be arguments among experts which they are not qualified to rule on but can recommend more studies be done.
    But if victims of IWTs were allowed to testify as to harm caused to them by IWT “noise” in court, then courts can rule in favour of the victims.
    So this is why the government will not interview any victims of IWT “noise” as this could lead to the end of their IWT “noise” propaganda.
    This government “noise” propaganda that IWTs don’t cause health problems maintains the financial support for IWT developers in the financial markets. Wind developers need to raise capital and even issue stock for sale on the exchanges. An admission on the part of the government that there are health issues with IWTs would kill the financial market for IWT developers and those who intend to make money from IWTs.

    • Unless ONTARIO VICTIMS are allowed to testify in the Zephyr Wind Appleal, the result will be the same as in the previous 2 rulings and lawyers already know this.
      Courts/ tribunals are no longer allowed to rule on argumrnents among experts likey based on disasterous outcomes in UK courts which caused laws to be enacted in the UK to prevent rulings by courts based on arguments among experts. Courts can say that more research should be done in any given situation.

  3. Has anyone in the other IWT projects (besides Ripley) seen the changing of blades?
    Noted on Sunday Dec 18th after lunch a set of blades were being replaced on one of the 38 Enercon E 82 turbines in the Ripley site.
    No reason as to why….yet.

    • I was in Munich, Germany a couple of years ago and they
      were replacing blades on a turbine on the city outskirts, the
      spectacle of which was causing a traffic jam. According to
      the radio, this procedure was routine maintenance as the
      blades should be replaced every 10 years. I don’t know
      if this is the norm for all IWT’s or just the particular turbine
      installed in Munich.

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