Acoustic Resources & Testimony
This section contains information about some of the acousticians and researchers who have provided expert evidence, testimony or opinions in either formal court proceedings, planning tribunals, senate inquiries or other official proceedings, with links to some of their statements and research.
They are listed alphabetically. The list is not exhaustive, but should give lawyers unfamiliar with the issues plenty of background information. Additional resources are listed at the end, downloadable from our Resources section. We welcome additional material from contributors.
Recommendation from experienced researcher, Neil Kelley
The most experienced researcher in the world on this issue, Neil Kelley, has stipulated that to properly investigate the reported problems, full spectrum acoustic measurements must be conducted inside homes.
No government noise pollution regulatory authority anywhere in the world is currently doing this, nor do any conditions of planning consent for individual wind developments stipulate this as a requirement. The Waubra Foundation has been calling for this since May 2012, with our first Acoustic Pollution Assessment Guidelines. These have now been further updated in the light of recent developments.
Evidence of direct causation of symptoms from wind turbine acoustic emissions
The acoustic research from Harvey Hubbard and Neil Kelley’s team in the 1980’s clearly established in both field studies and laboratory research that the symptoms were caused directly by the acoustic emissions and their interaction with the building via acoustic resonance, regardless of the source of the noise.
The Adelaide University research by Nobbs, Doolan and Moreau established the direct correlation of symptoms of annoyance with particular frequencies and doses of sound energy, but it was not possible to conclusively determine that the sound energy came from the wind turbines in that study, due to the refusal of the wind developer to cooperate with on-off testing or provision of power output data.
Critiques of existing Wind Turbine Noise Pollution Guidelines
The authors listed below have written their criticisms of the existing noise pollution guidelines used in Australia which are universally considered, by concerned and knowledgeable engineering and health professionals who are completely independent of the wind industry, to be inadequate or seriously flawed:
- Professor Philip Dickinson
- Professor Colin Hansen (South Australian Wind farm noise guidelines)
- Mr Les Huson
- Mr Peter Mitchell
What is a “safe” evidence-based exposure dose?
The recent finding of the “forgotten” major US government funded research from the 1980s is of critical importance, because it established exposures which they said should not be exceeded. Page 225 of the 1985 Kelley research stated:
“the joint radiation levels (expressed in terms of acoustic intensity and measured external to a structure) in the 8, 16, 31.5 and 63 Hz standard (ISO) octaves should not exceed band intensity threshold limits of 60, 50, 40 and 40 dB (re 1 pWm –2) more than 20% of the time. These figures compare favourably with a summary of low-frequency annoyance situations by Hubbard . ”
It remains to be seen whether this exposure recommendation is relevant to protect the health of neighbours from the large upwind turbines in quiet rural areas, but at least there a baseline to start from. The recommendation above immediately invokes the issue of how to continuously and transparently monitor the noise emissions.
The question of setback distances required to protect health
It is clear that required setback distances to protect neighbours from the health damaging effects of noise pollution will vary according to terrain, size of turbine, number of turbines, configuration, weather conditions and wind direction as a minimum. Length of exposure and individual susceptibility are additional factors. Some of the acoustic papers which have discussed this problem include the following: