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Noise

Wind Turbine sound

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Had heard a lot about the noise problem with large wind turbines. Finally got close to one at University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland. On approach and retreat, we both experienced headaches at about 80-100m from it. Can't recall where she experienced hers, but for me it was low & toward the back (occipital area) & out toward the two sides of my head as well. Perhaps my vestibular was picking up on the ELF (saccule can pick up on ultrasonic frequencies - could it perceive sub-sonic as well)? Not sure. All I know is that we seemed to walk through a belt/zone of something that caused us both problems. Once through that zone, our headaches disappeared. Listen with headphones to appreciate the following: 1. Whine from the machine at base of tower (audible from about 50m). 2. Beat caused by blades in front of the tower. 3. Deep hum, caused by the alternator generating electricity. Took both of us a while to notice it while there. Wasn't until my friend made a remark about a plane flying overhead that I noticed it (my brain had already categorised it as "plane" & ignored it). Only then I noticed the 'plane' was speeding up / slowing down in time with the turbine. 4. Back-beat. Waltz-like in structure, it put me in mind of a steam engine having difficulty in keeping going. As wind speed changed so did it's characteristics. I couldn't stand it & had to start leaving soon after moving behind the WT. Interestingly this back-beat was only audible down-wind. We could still hear the higher pitched back-beat from the blades from the nearest car park pay station - about 300m away. Not the deeper sounds though. But given that I could hear the ocean 5miles from my childhood home on some nights, I can imagine the sound of a wind farm could carry considerable distances. Esp at night. Of course micro-turbines should (theoretically) still have the same issues. But, given their smaller size, such problems would be considerably less. My own experience of them (I've helped build two & visited more) is that I didn't experience a headache belt/zone & their sounds were barely audible from 100m away. Also, while they still emit a deeper hum as electricity is produced, it's not so loud that you'd consider it a plane circling overhead! This does not mean I'm anti-turbine. I'm just concerned that big turbines & farms are causing problems for people, soundscapes, landscapes & eco-systems (they've devastated bogs, caused landslides & poisoned lakes & rivers in Ireland while putting some up here). So before you get all hot & bothered about my being anti-green & anti-environment, consider a few things. 1. Who benefits from wind farms? The Government & Industry. Both will earn money FOREVER charging for something that will cost them near-zero to produce. 2. Yes, WT's are better than coal, nuclear methods of production. But WT farms feed a grid that wastes considerable % of what's put it into (never mind covering the countryside with massive EMFs to get power to the end-user). 3. Micro-generation would considerably reduce grid demand, wake people up to their own power-use habits, leave fok with more spending money & maybe even, one day, allow us dismantle the grid entirely. But mainstream aren't talking about it. Imagine if every building in your country had PV panels on south-facing rooves & those with gardens had more PV panels on poles (& even micro WTs like Hugh Piggott's). Sure, micro-gen won't solve all our power issues. But it would reduce grid-demand with minimal ecological, landscape and soundscape issues. Yet the only public support we have for it in Ireland are grants for pathetic measures like putting more insulation into your walls! Strange, non? Maybe it's because micro-gen threatens profits of electricity suppliers & Gov tax revenues. Or that there's few jobs in putting them up & hardly any in maintenance. Or that it would leave entire populations more independent. Whatever the reason, mainstream keep touting the 'big' answers like nuclear & massive WT farms. Given the onslaught of abuse I received while I had comments open, that policy seems to be wrecking greenies ethics. Because many now deem it ok to be abusive because of someone's (apparent) anti-turbine (and therefore, in their minds, anti-environment) stance. So I disabled comments. But also because I got fed up repeating that: a - I'm not anti-turbine or anti-environment. b -- volume is not the issue (it's sound characteristics) c -- sound is an entirely subjective experience (what disturbs one may not disturb another) d -- WT farms are not the only possible answer (at best they're a tiny part of the answer) e -- micro-generation is being ignored and hardly anyone is talking about that!
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