Neighbours of Drone Hill wind farm on Coldingham Moor have had the chance to give their views on how it has impacted on them.
Climate change body ClimateXChange, who were commissioned by the Scottish Government to look at how the visual, shadow flicker and noise impacts predicted by developers at the planning stage compared to reality, selected 10 wind farm test sites in Scotland. They made their selection on the basis of having known complaints about visual, shadow flicker and/or noise impacts, and among the 10 was Drone Hill.
What the researchers found was that developers sometimes under-assess the impact of wind farm noise and appearance on residents living nearby and that in some cases what was set out in planning applications did not match the actual impact.
The study also found that efforts to engage with the public had not always adequately prepared residents for the visual, shadow flicker and noise impacts of a development.
The information was gathered through a combination of residents’ surveys and assessments by professional consultants.
95 households within a three kilometre radius of Drone Hill were sent surveys with a response rate of 20% (19 replies), noise issues proving to be an on-going issue there.
Among those who replied was George Matthews, a retired Scottish Office chief building standards advisor and vocal opponent of the Drone Hill wind farm.
Speaking about the ClimateXChange study he said: “Let’s hope it does improve future planning guidance and good practice, but I doubt it. What happens to those of us that already have wind farms on our door step, are they going to take the wind turbines down or give us the compensation that we are seeking?
“The main problem is that nobody actually checks the developers reports on noise, they/councils assume them to be accurate and in line with ETSU (Energy Technology Support Unit) as they are carried out by so called professionals on behalf of the developers.
“The local people that live on the moor are now complaining to the Scottish Borders Council regarding excessive noise from the wind farm, the ES said that this would not be a problem but it has turned out to be a problem. The council and the wind farm owners are currently investigating the complaint.”
ClimateXChange project manager Ragne Low said: “As the study has focused on issues relating to the planning process, we are confident that the findings will feed into improved practice in measuring the predicted impacts of proposed wind farms and in communicating this to decision-makers and those likely to be affected.
“The findings point to several possible improvements in guidance and good practice.
“Some have been implemented in the time between the case study wind farms being planned and built, and the present. The study will contribute to building on these improvements.”
Professor Jack Ponton, of the Borders Network of Conservation Groups said: “The recommendations are too little and too late to help our planning officials deal with the deluge of wind turbine applications.”