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Ask Buachaill Your Own Question
Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10953
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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The council have advised that a neighbour has complained

Customer Question

The council have advised that a neighbour has complained that my wind turbine is too loud and stops him sleeping. The wind turbine is on agricultural land and has full planning permission granted in 2006 and was erected in 2007. The planning application
complied with all regulations at the time. There are no noise restrictions in the planning approval. I initially stopped the turbine until it was fully checked over and serviced by the manufacturers and have now restarted it. My neighbour lives 135 m away
and moved in in 2010 3 years after teh turbine was erected. My neighbour then did a lot of landscaping including hard standing and removing a long line of deep trees. There is now an unobscured view and path for sound to travel to his house. The neighbour
has complained to the council environmental health officer for noise pollution. The council officer has said that he has listened to noise recording taken by the neighbour and has said this is noise nuisance. There have been no professional noise recordings
taken. I understand that the councill officer considers this to be a statutory nuisance" under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. However as the turbine is not on residential land and is on grazing land my understanding is that this act does not apply.
Is this correct? I understand the law relating to wind turbines is not the environmental protection act 1990 but is a guidance document called ETSU which was written in 1997. Is this correct? My understanding is my planning application in 2006 was after this
time and complied with the regulations at the time. Is it correct that ETSU guidance is to assist avoiding noise at wind turbine development proposal stage and is not retrospective for established wind turbines? Is it correct that any any newer guidance cannot
be applied retrospectively?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Buachaill replied 2 years ago.
1. At the outset, this situation does fall within the definition of a "statutory nuisance" under Part III of the Environmental protection Act, 1990. It makes no difference to the legal situation that the turbine is on agricultural land and not on residential land. The only impact this situation has in law is that you don't have a defence of "best practicable means" because your turbine does not constitute "industrial, trade or business premises" within the meaning of Section 80(8) of the 1990. However, the law applicable is otherwise the same. Wind turbines fall within the ambit of the general law and not this ETSU guidance you have stated. The law has moved on in this area substantially since 1997. Be aware that under the 1990 Act "noise" is defined in Section 79(7) to include vibration so when taking a measurement of the wind turbine noise some measurement of vibration has to take place also.
Expert:  Buachaill replied 2 years ago.
2. The primary piece of legislation in this area of noise and vibration pollution is the Environmental Noise Directive 2002/49/EC. If your turbine was produced after 2005 (you say 2006), then it will have complied with the limits imposed in Annex I which prescribe noise limit and noise marking procedures if your wind turbine was rated at less than 400kW in power output. If this is the case, your turbine cannot amount to noise pollution as it is in compliance with the law. However, if your turbine is greater than 400kW in output, the situation is different. Here it will have to comply with the Environmental Noise Directive and the 1990 Act.
Expert:  Buachaill replied 2 years ago.
3. The END does not lay down specific noise limits. Nor does the 1990 Act define what is allowed. However, the World Health Organisation recommendations have stated that a continuous noise limit of 30 Decibels in a bedroom is the limit allowed. If there is a single event noise, then a limit of up to 45 dB is allowed. to give you an idea of how loud this is, a human conversation would be at 50dB. The noise limit for operating machinery at work is 80-87dB. So at this stage, I would suggest you get an agreed measurement in the complainant's bedroom and house. This can be used scientifically to refute the assertion that the noise from your wind turbine amounts to a nuisance, or that it infringes the Environmental Noise Directive.
Expert:  Buachaill replied 2 years ago.
4. Be aware that a wind turbine generally has a noise level of 40-45 Decibels. So you are very close to the limits. So get it measured and use this as a defence if you can fall within the limits.