People and wind farms
It is interesting how widely feelings range when it comes to wind farms. There are a vocal number of the public who object to turbines – these are predominantly issues on the environment, but also wildlife and noise.
But surveys tell a different story. The 2004 BWEA survey found that the majority agreed that wind farms are necessary for the UK to meet future energy needs. People living near farms mostly didn't feel that wind farms spoilt the scenery or caused noise nuisance and many of the people who had formerly objected, changed their minds once a farm had been built near them. RSPB and MORI surveys both came to the same conclusions.
Noise Turbine noise is caused by the movement of the head and / or the movement of air through the blades. Noise levels are steadily reducing as technology (particularly of the gearbox), meets these challenges. Existing wind farms in Europe have apparently not yet caused unnecessary noise.
Electromagnetic interference Sometimes a wind farm can cause electromagnetic interference that can, for example, cause ghosting on television screens. This can be remedied easily when developers install signal booster equipment.
RadarWind farm applications for sites within 74 kilometres of Ministry of Defence early warning radar sites require special attention as the spinning blades could interfere with reception. Scottish Power, given approval for a massive farm in April 2006 near Glasgow, will install a new radar base on the site of a former power station - at a cost of £5 million. It was thought that High Volts wind farm, near to Teesside International Airport, would interfere with airport radar systems. Since the farm's launch in 2004 no issues have arisen at all.
Shipping and fishingShipping and port industries are being consulted at key stages of offshore windfarm development and the Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are consulted on all applications.
Wind farm arrays are to be built in such a way as to minimise impact on the fishing industry.
PylonsPower from the wind farm in Beauly near Inverness needs to be transported 137 miles to Falkirk. Some protestors object to the pylon path passing through ancient burial grounds whilst others do not wish to have to live beneath the power lines which allegedly can cause degenerative disease.
OffshoreOffshore farms do not attract as much opposition as onshore wind farms – mainly because the visual impact will be less of an issue especially if the site is some way from land. The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) advises that all offshore projects should be at least 5 kilometres from land. Three large developments planned for the Wash, Thames estuary and the North West have an inshore zone of 8 kilometres where new development is excluded – and for places of especial environmental sensitivity the exclusion zone is set to 13 kilometres.