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How noisy is a wind turbine?

How noisy is a wind turbine? Modern wind turbines are remarkably quiet. It is one of the odd things about the anti-wind lobby that they often focus on noise as an issue, when in reality anyone who has stood close to a modern wind turbine knows how little noise they make.

The rules that must be followed to obtain planning consent state that if the noise level after modelling at nearby neighbours is less than 35 dB(A) then no further work is required and all is OK. 35 dB(A) is approximately the noise level inside a quiet library or a quiet whisper.

If after noise modelling the noise level is predicted to be between 35 and 40 dB(A) then background noise measurements must be done to confirm just how quiet the area is (normally background noise levels are somewhere between 35 to 40 dB(A) in very quiet rural areas), and then the limit is set at the greater of 40 dB(A) or background + 5 dB(A).

If after modelling and background noise measurements the turbine noise level at a neighbouring property is more than 40 dB(A) or background + 5 dB(A), then that neighbour must be ‘financially involved’ in the project, which normally means the neighbour being paid some of the income generated by the wind turbine. Even at 45 dB(A) this is very, very quiet and most people would hardly ever notice.

If you want to know how quiet wind turbines are the best thing to do is to go and visit one. Many wind turbines are in accessible places and are perfectly safe to walk right up to and listen to. One you’ve stood right underneath, walk about 400 metres away (this is around the minimum separation from a neighbour that would be allowed) and see if you can still hear the wind turbine at all.


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