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Wind plants built too close to residential areas

Permits for wind power plants are being issued under outdated regulations that do not adequately take into consideration the type of noise generated by modern wind turbines.

Terveystarkastaja Harri Julkusen mittari kertoo yleisen melutason, mutta tuulivoimalan häiritsevyys ei ole voimakkuus vaan laatukysymys. Image: YLE

The rules that regulate the construction and zoning for wind power plants has not been updated since the advent in Finland of large industrial units.

For example, in Hamina, wind power plants have been found to cause noise problems for local inhabitants up to one kilometre away. In many places, plants have been put up no more than 500 metres from the nearest homes.

Two wind farms in Hamina were designed in 2009 and 2010. The city based the terms of its permit process on government guidelines established in 1992. These allow for construction if noise levels do not exceed 45-50 decibels at night in nearby residential areas, or more than 40 decibels at holiday homes.

Guidelines issued by the Ministry of the Environment in 2012 trimmed these upper limits by 5 decibels.

Low frequencies

The major problem with noise from wind power plants is not how loud it is, but the frequencies generated. People who live close to the plants in Hamina complain that low bass noise penetrates their homes.

"The rumble disturbs concentration and sleep and if it continues a long time, it has a detrimental effect on health," says Hamina Health Inspector Harri Julkunen.

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