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Windflow Noise Test A Farce

Thu, 21 Oct 2004

Windflow Noise Test A Farce

The revelation in the Banks Peninsula newspaper The Akaroa Mail (8 October) that Windflow's turbine ran on only six days out of the 14 day "continuous running" test period promised to the community further discredits the validity of the test results which were already being seriously questioned by local residents.

While no-one expected the turbine to run when the wind was insufficient it was frequently noticed to be stopped on occasions when there was reasonable wind. This is understood to have been caused by mechanical problems but until the news that it only ran on six days no-one was aware of exactly how few days it was tested on. Enquiries have so far failed to produce figures showing exactly when the turbine did run during the test period, nor what the wind conditions were during testing - both crucial matters since they obviously affect the extent to which the noise carries to local properties.

Two weeks testing was agreed by the community since that period would have given a reasonable range of wind conditions but the much shorter time casts further doubt on the validity of the test. Even if the turbine ran continuously on the six days that is far less than is reasonable compared to the specified two weeks period and added to the questions above it makes a farce of what was promised to the community.

Neither has there been any explanation of how consultants Marshall Day moved from the figures produced by the tests to their sweeping statement, "it is our opinion that sound from the turbine is almost certainly less than 30 dBA at Ms Riley's property under all operational wind speeds". To make this assumption on scant evidence makes the council's decision to allow the turbine to continue operating distinctly questionable.

Further concerns arising since the test include that it appears the council's appointed testing officer David Shovel has no previous experience of testing wind turbines, a concern which is heightened by Mr. Shovel's ignoring of enquiries addressed to him on this point. It is also not known whether Mr. Shovel carried out any analysis of the test results.

Further, while not questioning the integrity of the consultants Marshall Day who were engaged to "peer review" the results, their employment by Meridian on their windfarm interests and especially their swapping sides from acting for the Makara (Wellington) windfarm protest group to acting for Meridian on the same project raises the point that such a review should be done by agents who are completely independent. Marshall Day's demonstrated pro-windfarm preference over advocating for local residents means they cannot be regarded as impartial as is essential in such matters.

One of the major problems of this whole saga is that Windflow have made statements which have subsequently been shown to be totally misleading, particularly Geoff Henderson's statement to a resident that they would hear the turbine for not more than five percent of the time it is running.

This was taken on trust and to have that trust shown to be misplaced has created a situation of Windflow's own making and demonstrates why communities around the world rightly mistrust the windpower industry as it impinges on their lives. If Windflow really want to be "good neighbours" as they frequently claim they must reduce the turbine noise level to it being heard for less than five percent of the running time as their ceo promised.


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