Should Wind Turbines be sited close to residential properties?

Wind farms are beginning to crop up in many locations around the UK; however, although wind turbines are a source of clean renewable energy there is growing resistance to the siting of them in residential areas.

An article that appeared on the this is Somerset website highlighted the battle currently taking place between the residents of Huntspill, a village near Bridgewater in Somerset and two energy companies EDF Energy and Ecotricty, who have put forward plans for two wind farms in the area. EDF wants to build five turbines on the eastern side of the M5 and Ecotricity are proposing the building of four on the West.

The energy companies say that wind turbines are an effective way of reducing the use of fossil fuels, meeting Government energy targets and at the same time cut Greenhouse gas emissions.

However, local residents claim that the turbines will affect their quality of life, ruin the landscape and affect local tourism. Alan and Anita Wilkinson who run Emerald Pool Fisheries and own 6 Holiday cottages say the noise and flashing lights from the turbines will reduce people’s enjoyment of the tranquil location and affect their night angling business. They also mention the fact that people who live within a mile of existing wind farms suffer the effects of sleep deprivation and other effects from the noise produced by the turbines.

In June 2009 Dr Christopher Hanning Honorary consultant in Sleep Disorder Medicine to the University Hospitals of Leicester and founder of the Leicester Sleep Disorder Services at Leicester General Hospital wrote a report entitled “Sleep Disturbance and Wind Turbine Noise” In the report Dr Hanning states “There can be no doubt that wind farms generate sufficient noise to disturb sleep and impair the health of those living nearby” The report looks into how the noise from wind turbines can disrupt “critical sleep cycles” and lead to fatigue, headaches, poor memory and concentration.

Dr Hanning stresses that disrupted sleep has recently been linked to impaired glucose tolerance, increased risks of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and depression; he also points out that recent studies have shown that seven out of ten children who were exposed to wind turbine noise had a marked decline in their performance at school and their behaviour was also affected.

Dr Nina Pierpont MD testified at the New York State energy committee 7/3/2006 that there are recognised symptoms associated with the noise from wind farms and these occur in significant numbers of people who live in close proximity to them. Dr Pierpont recommends that wind turbines due to health implications shouldn’t be sited within one and a half miles of any school, home or hospital (Barry, 2009 and Kansas wind alert). However, as Mr and Mrs Wilkinson point out two of the proposed turbines would be sited within 500 meters of their property affecting their livelihoods and their quality of life.

So are wind farms the answer to our future energy needs or, does further research need to be done into the impacts turbines may or may not have on residents health and quality of life?

Anonymous, 2012: Anti wind turbine protesters stage blimp uprising on Somerset countryside: http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Anti-wind-turbine-protesters-stage-blimp-uprising/story-15223827-detail/story.html

Anonymous: What does it harm? It squanders our capital on a false promise: http://www.kansaswindalert.org/kwa/what_does_it_harm.html

Barry, L. 2009: Why is wind turbine noise a potential health hazard?: http://betterplan.squarespace.com/todays-special/2009/7/22/72209-why-is-wind-turbine-noise-a-potential-health-hazard.html

Hanning, C, 2009: Sleep Disturbance and Wind Turbine Noise.

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