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Some wind farm developers under-estimate noise and other impacts at planning stage

by on July 9, 2015

Some wind farm developers have under-assessed the impact of wind farm noise and appearance on residents living nearby, according to ground-breaking research just published.

The two-year study looked at how the visual, shadow flicker and noise impacts predicted by developers at the planning stage of 10 wind farms across Scotland compared with what was experienced once the projects were operational.

In some cases what was set out in planning applications did not match the actual impact, the research by climate change body ClimateXChange concluded.

The test sites included wind farms at Dalswinton in Dumfries and Galloway, Achany in the Highlands, Drone Hill in the Borders, Hadyard Hill in South Ayrshire, Little Raith in Fife and West Knock Farm in Aberdeenshire.

The majority of assessments presented at planning stage for the 10 case study wind farms identified and mainly followed extant guidelines.

However, for some of the case study wind farms, extant guidelines were not consistently followed and/or the impacts predicted in the documentation submitted with developers’ planning applications were not consistent with the actual impacts, as assessed in the study or as reported by some local residents.

“Assessments and public engagement activities had not always adequately prepared residents for the impacts of the operational wind farm in terms of visual, shadow flicker or noise impacts”, concluded the research.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “We welcome the publication of the wind farm impacts study report which is the first of its kind in the world and presents the findings of a two-year study involving a wide-range of interest groups.

“The report shows improvements have already been made in our planning system, which is rigorous and ensures appropriate siting of wind farms, and studies like this will make sure this improvement continues, and we look forward to considering the recommendations carefully.”

View more information on the study

Roger Milne

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