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Western Morning News October 22, 2015 United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Wind farm noise report 'parallels VW scandal', MP claims

A new report co-authored in the Westcountry exposes “two decades of deception” from the wind industry about the effect of turbines on health of near neighbours, an MP claimed.

Fullabrook wind farm
Fullabrook wind farm, which has breached noise limits

By WMN_PGoodwin

The Independent Noise Working Group (INWG) has used its study to call for an overhaul of the way wind farms noise is measured.

The findings were presented to Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom last week in a bid to persuade the Government to introduce new standards.

Noise campaigners believe the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is now receptive to changing the existing method by which councils assess wind farms – the ETSU-R-97, which was created in 1996.

Conservative MP for Daventry Chris Heaton-Harris claims the new report draws “parallels with the Volkswagen emission scandal” where vehicles were rigged to conceal the harmful pollutants they emitted.

The Institute of Acoustics (IoA) – instrumental in developing the noise measurement policy – dismissed it served vested interests and “strongly refuted the allegations”.

One of the report’s authors, Mike Hulme – who has for ten years fought plans for nine 120m (390ft) masts at Den Brook in Devon – said a group of highly qualified acousticisans and sleep specialists had contributed to the document.

He says the true effect of amplitude modulation – where “swishing” sounds turn to a “thumping”, often at night – was being miss-calculated by a “massive amount”.

In some cases claims of five decibel (db) noise had been detected as high as 15db, he added, huge in sound terms.

“We have showed with direct testing using real world data from wind farms that neighbours are not being protected,” added Mr Hulme.

“It shows what we have been saying for years - the means of controlling wind farms is seriously flawed and the Government has been wrongly advised."

In a joint announcement with the INWG, the group’s “political sponsor” MP Mr Heaton Harris said the report showed “how a small group of wind industry funded acousticians have taken control of the Institute of Acoustics (IoA) and its noise working groups”.

“This façade of respectability afforded by the IoA has enabled the wind industry to dominate government noise assessment policy and planning guidance by providing inaccurate and misleading scientific advice,” the MP added.

“The parallels with the Volkswagen emission scandal are quite remarkable.”

The INWG suggest these two decades of deception are now resulting in serious annoyance and far reaching risks to the health and wellbeing of large numbers of people living in the proximity of wind farms.”

The IoA said the accusations are “completely without any basis” and said parallels with the VW emissions scandal was “an appalling slur on the professionalism and integrity of our members”.

It said the Good Practice Guide for the application of ETSU-R-97 was drawn up after “a lengthy and wide-ranging consultation” during which opinions were sought from all quarters, before “recommendations were later fully endorsed by the Government”.

A spokesman added: Throughout the whole process and the subsequent drawing up of guide’s supplementary guidance notes our whole approach and that of the members involved has been based on science and best practice, and we would strongly challenge the INWG to substantiate its claims that this has resulted in the advice given to the Government being ‘inaccurate’ and ‘misleading.”