Wind Farm campaigners will fight on despite council ruling on noise nuisance

Graveley Wind Farm,

Graveley Wind Farm, - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting for tighter controls on noise from wind turbines have presented data collected from monitoring equipment at Cotton Farm to the Government.

The Cotton Farm Residents’ Association (CFRA) was set up in January 2013, after eight wind turbines were installed on the former airfield at Graveley, near St Neots. CFRA has already won a concession from operators, Greencoat, who are running the turbines in “curtailed mode” to alleviate the noise problems, but according to campaigners this has been unsuccessful in terms of reducing the noise.

But the CFRA hopes new evidence from the Independent Noise Working Group (INWG) could lead to an overhaul of planning conditions and tighter controls on installing turbines so close to homes.

Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris, presented the INWG report to Government a few weeks ago and says: “This type of noise has been ignored by developers and government until recently, but there is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates the nuisance.

“I have been lobbying ministers about the issues and presented them with evidence proving how damaging this noise can be and suggesting solutions.”

Data from the Graveley noise monitor has been presented to the minister in an effort to expose the devastating effects of noise for those living close to wind turbines.

Graveley resident Bev Gray, who sits on the INWG, said: “The Cotton Farm data is playing an important role in adding to the wealth of evidence and knowledge in providing an alternative methodology of controlling noise from wind farms.”

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The INWG is calling on the Government to provide “robust protection for existing wind farm neighbours”. This is specifically the Excessive Amplitude Modulation EAM noise, which has been compared to the sound of a “pair of trainers in a tumble drier”.

In a statement, Greencoat, the company that owns Cotton Farm, said: “Since taking over ownership of the wind farm in October 2013, we have established a collaborative relationship with the residents’ association, and look forward to continuing this. Greencoat UK Wind PLC is a responsible investor as well as a green investor and takes its social commitments very seriously.”

Greencoat UK Wind PLC is listed on the main list of the London Stock Exchange, with a market capitalisation in excess of £500m. It operates 17 wind farms in the UK.

Huntingdonshire District Council said it had obtained expert, independent advice in reaching its conclusions about noise levels and its decision not to use nuisance laws to support the Cotton Farm campaigners.

People living in villages close to the Cotton Farm wind turbines at Graveley have reported being unable to sleep or open their windows due to the noise produced by eight 126-metre-high turbines. Despite receiving hundreds of complaints from people living in nearby villages, officers at Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) and South Cambs District Council (SCDC) decided there was no “statutory nuisance” and said it would be“inappropriate to take formal enforcement action under nuisance legislation”.

The neighbouring authorities produced their findings at a Cotton Farm Residents’ Association (CFRA) meeting held on November 26, but drew criticism from campaigners.

Andy Turner, chairman of the Residents’ Association, said: “It is now clear that neither HDC nor SCDC have the current capability, will, or funding to risk using nuisance law to protect residents from the adverse effects of noise from the wind farm.

“I am looking forward to hearing how they intend to protect us by other methods. The noise is very intrusive, people can’t get to sleep and can’t open their windows, it is really unpleasant to live under those conditions and people get very emotional about it.”

Mr Turner confirmed that some residents are looking into launching independent nuisance claims, funded by their home insurance legal policies, as they are unable to sell their homes.

CFRA has installed its own independently-funded noise monitoring equipment and will use evidence from this to lobby politicians for a change in the law on noise levels.

Graveley resident Bev Gray added: “Even after two and a half years of receiving a continuous stream of complaints from residents, neither HDC or SCDC have taken any formal action to enforce a reduction in noise.”

Huntingdonshire District Council, and South Cambs District Council have confirmed to The Hunts Post that they will be writing to Government to seek fresh guidance on wind farm noise.