Ontario experience shows noise rules don’t work for wind turbines, WCO tells World Health Organization
The World Health Organization recently announced that it is revising its guidelines for environmental noise, for Europe, and this time will include consideration of the noise emissions from utility-scale or industrial-scale wind turbines.
Wind Concerns Ontario has provided a comment document to the WHO.
“We told them, the current guidelines for environmental noise have been adopted and used by other countries to apply to turbine noise,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “The problem is, they don’t work. Our experience in Ontario is that they are not sufficient to protect health, and they need to be updated with the results of recent research.”
While Health Canada claims its 2014 study is the most “comprehensive” in the world, WCO says, the study was criticized from the outset for its design and was in fact never supposed to determine a cause-and-effect relationship between turbine noise and health problems. That said, Wilson explains, the Health Canada study does show an association between the noise emissions and reports of distress.
“There’s a lot of other research, like the Cape Bridgewater study in Australia, for the WHO committee to consider,” Wilson, a Registered Nurse and health writer/editor.
“For example, we now know that simply using dBA to measure turbine noise is only giving part of the picture. More needs to be done to protect health.”
The WHO guidelines for Europe are important because other world jurisdictions, like Ontario, rely on them for their own policy decisions.
The following points are based on the learning from the Ontario experience, says WCO:
- Application of the WHO Night Time Noise Standard to wind turbines is not appropriate.
- Limiting exposure to audible noise above 40 dBA is not sufficient to protect health
- Standards for low frequency noise and infrasound noise emissions from wind turbines, using appropriate measures, are required.
- The current models used to estimate noise emissions are not accurately predicting the actual noise emissions produced by wind turbines. Different and more complex models are required but these need to be validated with real life experience before they are certified for use in regulatory processes.
See the Wind Concerns Ontario comment document here. WHOStandardsCommentJuly12