15.03.2013 - Noise data for Ascog wind turbines approved by Environmental Health Officers

Just before Christmas 2012 Argyll & Bute planning officers wrote to us asking for more noise information and some additional viewpoints. Their letter also asked whether we wanted to withdraw a planning application supported by around £100,000 of Community Energy Scotland funding (with tens of thousands more from ourselves) representing the result of about two years work and filed with the Council at a cost in excess of £3,000. Our answer was 'No'. If you're going to spend a good few years of your life working to realise Scottish Government policy to create green energy you don't give up on a whim!

©The Buteman

So, at yet more expense, additional noise data was recorded and additional viewpoints were photomontaged - in line with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) guidelines - to better inform the planning decision.

There is no telling yet what the planners will make of the enhanced Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) data although their earlier communication suggests that they (and SNH, who conducted a Landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study for the Council themselves) are wedded to the idea that because Bute is an island it shouldn't have any turbines greater than 20m to tip height. Makes you wonder what the British Isles are? Or indeed whether all the successful wind turbines installed on places like Gigha, Lewis, Harris and Shetland (many of which are well over 20m to tip!) have in fact been the visual catastrophe everyone has feared.

Views aside, however, the Argyll & Bute Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) have accepted the findings of our updated noise report and do not have any objections to the operation of the turbines provided that - under certain wind strength and direction conditions which the machines would constantly monitor - output is throttled at one turbine in night time operation.

Naturally, we expect various local experts to criticise the findings of this report - and the EHO's conclusions - with some seeming to suggest we should monitor noise every 5 seconds from here to eternity before being allowed to come to a conclusive decision.

These worries are largely concerned with exaggerated claims of illness and perceived health effects from wind turbine 'infrasound'. As the report makes clear 'Infrasound is a term used to describe sound at very low frequencies generally below 20 Hz. The potential for this to impact upon residences and individuals is of some concern to people living in the environs of wind turbine installations. However, based on all current available information and guidance from the Institute of Acoustics there is no concern for the levels of Infrasound likely to be produced by wind turbine generators at the separation distances involved.'

So, if we're granted consent, you'll be able to see them from certain locations on Bute (along with dozens of others in the immediate vicinity) but if you live nearby you won't be unduly affected by noise.