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Health Impacts of Wind Turbine Noise

Review of wind turbine noise

In September 2013, Public Health Wales undertook a review of wind turbine generated noise and health effects. The main findings were that: 

  • Whilst the potential for annoyance was identified, a direct relationship between turbine noise and health was not established.
  • The audible impact of turbines is greatly influenced by background noise. Well designed turbines are relatively quiet when compared to most road traffic noise.
  • Messages communicated about the health impact of turbines can influence public understanding and perception. Information should therefore be appropriate, proportionate and based on available evidence. 
  • Some people living near turbines reported sleeplessness and stress. Stress, tension and irritation can be linked with the perception of there being a noise, rather than noise itself. 
  • Visual dissatisfaction with turbines can influence people’s perception of noise. 

The Public Health Wales Position Statement

We have reviewed the evidence on wind turbine-generated noise and health.

This review identified no evidence to suggest that noise from wind turbines has a direct physiological impact on health. 

Characteristics of turbine generated noise vary, with amplitude modulation and low frequency noise being key aspects of associated complaints.
Perception of adverse health impacts associated with wind turbines may be influenced by turbine appearance, concern about their effect on local environments and personal and economic factors.
We acknowledge that annoyance from wind turbine operation may cause stress and anxiety which can, in turn, affect quality of life.
It should be noted that noise can affect different people and communities in different ways.
The majority of evidence reviewed came from studies undertaken outside the UK.
Evidence pointed strongly toward the visual impact of turbines as a modifying factor in annoyance. The concept of ‘annoyance’ is complex, subjective and difficult to impartially measure.
Public Health Wales will continue to work with local authorities (as regulators of turbine generated noise) and others, including the public, to understand and, where possible, minimise local population health concerns associated with wind turbine noise.
This statement will be reviewed periodically to reflect the evolving evidence base in this area.