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Wind farm noise not an issue

Media release

30 August 2005

Wind farm noise not an issue

The New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA) annual conference this afternoon heard from a number of experts that concerns about wind turbine noise were unfounded.

The session on turbine noise was led by Nevil Hegley of Hegley Acoustics - an independent consultancy specialising in the assessment of noise from machinery and industrial sites. Mr Hegley has been an acoustics consultant for 30 years and in that time has represented numerous Government bodies, companies and community interest groups.

“The sound of a wind turbine at 500 metres is equivalent to the background noise you would find in a typical library. The natural sound of the wind creates far more effects than the noise from modern wind turbines. However the reason we hear so much about sound in relation to wind turbines is that, in my experience, sound, even when it is clearly not a problem, is often used to object to a project when all other avenues of objection have been exhausted,” he said.

Mr Hegley said the New Zealand noise standard (NZS6808), which is used to ensure that noise from wind turbines are within acceptable levels, was a rigorous and effective standard that afforded very good protection to communities with proposed wind developments.

The Chief Executive of the NZWEA, James Glennie, said noise was commonly used by small minorities as a means to object to wind energy proposals. He said international research showed that, once a wind farm was operational, noise concerns quickly faded.

Mr Glennie said New Zealand wind farm developments, including the proposed Meridian wind farm at Makara, had taken a cautious design approach to ensure noise was not a factor.

The adequacy of the NZS6808 noise standard was unanimously confirmed at a New Zealand Standards review meeting in November 2004.

“The New Zealand noise standard allows us to measure sound emissions from wind turbines on an objective basis. Since the adequacy of NZS6808 was recently reconfirmed it is very clear that the proper application of this standard allows for noise emissions of wind turbines to be kept to acceptable levels around dwellings located close to wind farms.

“As the New Zealand wind industry continues to develop quickly it is very important that there is clarity around this standard and the protection it affords to communities. It is a robust and effective standard which more than addresses any concerns about noise from turbines.”

In 2004 the wind industry was the fastest growing energy sector in New Zealand with growth of more than 300 per cent. 200 MW of new capacity has been consented in the last seven months and 607 MW, including the West Wind project, is currently in the resource consent process.

The NZWEA has more than 60 members including some of New Zealand’s largest electricity generators, retailers and distribution companies.


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