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UK wind farm noise nuisance court challenge begins

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Davis at home

An unprecedented court case has begun in the UK, which could determine whether noise impacts become more widely considered to be of importance around wind farms.  Jane and Julian Davis moved out of their home in 2006 after the wind farm began operation, saying the sound was ‘unbearable’ even though they wore earplugs at night and installed double glazing at the farmhouse in Deeping St Nicholas, Lincolnshire. in 2008 they were unable to get a real estate agent to list the home for sale, saying they could not determine a fair market value due to the noise from the turbines just under a kiilometer (about a half mile) away.

Their case is being heard by London’s High Court, and is believed to be the first UK case to seek damages for a “noise nuisance” caused by a wind farm.  According to a detailed post at Business Green,

Mrs Davis, whose husband’s family cultivated Grays Farm for more than 20 years before they moved out, said it had been a “nightmare” living there, and the family had no option but to leave. She told the Strand News Service on Monday that the humming sound created by the turbines was very unpredictable and mainly occurred at night. “You can never get to bed with the assurance that you will stay asleep,” she said. Their lawyers are seeking either a permanent injunction to shut down the turbines or damages of up to £2.5m to compensate the couple for the disruptive effect on their lives.

The case, which is expected to last three weeks, started on Monday but was adjourned until today so the judge and lawyers in the case could carry out a site visit. “Their lives have been wholly disrupted by that noise,” he told the court, also alleging the main operator had tried to “impose a code of silence on those examining or recording the noise that the turbines in this location have caused”.

But William Norris, QC for the owners, operators and landlords of the wind farm, rejected claims that the machines created an unacceptable noise nuisance, suggesting the couple may have become “unduly sensitised to sounds that would not adversely affect the ordinary person”. He accepted that their “amenity” had been affected, but said the couple had “a gross over-reaction to what they undoubtedly do hear”.

The Spaulding Guardian elaborated on the two sides’ perspectives:

The Davis’s barrister said in court that the developers tried to “attack the credibility and reasonableness of the claimants rather than examine what they were actually being told. From the defendants’ witness statements, and the material they wish to put before the court, it seems that those attempts to undermine the claimants, to say they are over-sensitive, that they are exaggerating and over-reacting, will continue during the trial,” the barrister added.

He claimed the defendants had been irked by Mrs Davis’ eagerness to “speak publicly” and that she was being attacked for refusing to “put up with the noise”.

The QC for the developers and turbine host families accepted the couple heard sounds they genuinely believed to be “objectionable” after the turbines were installed but argued they could not be considered “dispassionate and reliable witnesses” and said Mrs Davis is prone to exaggeration and “favours hyperbole rather than balanced description”.

The case adjourned on July 6 for the judge and and lawyers to do a site visit.

3 Responses to “UK wind farm noise nuisance court challenge begins”

  1. Tom Clark Says:

    I wonder if they visit the site at 3am when the noise will be more likely to be at it’s worst.
    More then likely it will not generating but rotating -they wont know the difference but there will be next to no noise. The only way the Judge and lawyers can experience reality is to move into the Davis’s home for a few weeks and that wont happen.

  2. jason @ soundproofing Says:

    It’s actually incredible that it’s taken 5 years for this to get to court too! 5 years since they moved out! That’s a long time with no home.
    Maybe one answer would be for the wind farm to install soundproofing for them.

  3. aeinews Says:

    I believe some wind developers have done some soundproofing, especially better glazing, for some neighbors. I know this is fairly common near airports. Of course, it doesn’t do a lot to help folks who are feeling disrupted in their yards, or who want windows open at night.