Wind farm noise annoys resident
A Pahiatua man who has made more than 200 noise complaints about a nearby wind farm says he is sick of being woken by the turbines' whirr.
Richard Day has a thick stack of letters from the Tararua District and Palmerston North City councils acknowledging a year's worth of noise complaints – some lodged in the wee hours of the morning – about the 97 turbines that line the vista overlooking his house.
"It sounds like a quietly running car engine outside stopped outside your house."
Mr Day said he felt his complaints had provoked little action because he was the only resident on his side of the Pahiatua Track who had complained.
"Last night I lost maybe between two to three hours' sleep and I woke up grumpy and tired for work, but I don't think anyone's going to take responsibility for that," he said.
On the other side of the track, Forest Hill Rd residents had in the past been vocal, making submissions to Palmerston North City Council about the Te Rere Hau wind farm, which was completed in July last year.
Te Rere Hau owners NZ Windfarms had installed a decibel monitoring device in Mr Day's garden and he was waiting to hear whether the noise levels breached the resource consent.
Mr Day was anxious for councillors to visit at a time when noise levels were high, such as on a clear night with a light breeze.
"I've lived here a long time and I have enjoyed living here except when I have to put up with that [noise] without anything being done."
Tararua-Aokautere Guardians president Kevin Low said resource consent conditions or compliance for many wind farms in the area were not strict enough, judging from the complaints heard by councils.
The "sub-audible" low-frequency noise irritated people, he said.
"It creates vibrations within the chest cavity that affects your balance. The problem is the creation of nervous disorders that are primarily due to a lack of sleep ... it finally starts to take a toll on your health."
Mr Low said the council was in a tricky position. "It falls into this terrible grey area where on one hand the council have got an obligation to ensure the health of all their ratepayers but on the other hand have got [consent] limits to say these noise levels are correct. I think there is evidence to say these levels are not safe."
Tararua District Council planner Craig Lunn was sympathetic to Mr Day. "It appears there's a different sort of noise that these two-bladed turbines generate which seems to annoy people."
But it was up to the Environment Court to pass judgment, he said.
"It's frustrating from our point of view. We have a wind farm that appears to meet the standards but there's a strange sound that frustrates people."