Fullabrook briefing

Welcome to Fullabrook briefing.

The purpose of this blog is to communicate with residents in the vicinity of the Fullabrook Down wind farm development.

We have decided to use the blog format because:

  • we can post information quickly without waiting for enough content to fill a newsletter
  • blogs have a flexible format
  • blogs are interactive, allowing comments from readers

If you wish to make comments, please read the blog’s comments policy first. Comments will be moderated. We aim to approve comments within one working day subject to the comments policy. We hope that allowing public comments will aid constructive discussion.

Please note that our responses can only cover North Devon Council’s legal responsibilities.

Noise and other legal issues at Fullabrook Down are being dealt with by NDC’s Environmental Health, Planning and Customer Service teams. Blog posts are published by the NDC communications team on behalf of North Devon Council.

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Latest on Fullabrook sound level monitoring

It has been some time since there has been a Fullabrook Wind Farm update on this blog. To bring you up to date, here is the contents of a letter, issued by North Devon Council, summarising the latest on sound level monitoring around the development.

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As you are aware, an extensive sound level monitoring exercise is being carried out by an acoustic consultant around Fullabrook Wind Farm, on behalf of the wind farm operator.

The purpose of this exercise is to determine the extent of tonal noise problems, which continue to be reported at certain locations.  This will enable us to establish the level of compliance with the noise related planning conditions, as well as to assist in identifying anyfurther mitigation measures which may be required.

The current status of this exercise is as follows:

•           A significant proportion of the required noise data has now been collected and has been analysed for inclusion in a forthcoming report.

•           Small gaps remain in relation to background noise levels at some locations and this data is still in the process of being collected.  This monitoring is dependent on there being certain wind speeds and directions.

•           Once the outstanding data has been collected and analysed, the forthcoming noise report will be submitted to North Devon Council (NDC) for consideration.

Collating and analysing the data from this exercise is technically complex with a number of factors needing to be considered – including the weather conditions. This is to ensure any conclusions that are drawn from the analysis are technically correct and follow the relevant technical guidance.

We are not able to give a definitive timescale in relation to when this exercise might be complete, as we cannot predict or control the environmental conditions required to support the additional monitoring.  However, I would like to assure you that NDC is aware of the amount of time that has passed since this exercise began – and is working with all parties involved to ensure it is progressed as quickly as is practicably possible.  NDC is committed to ensuring that local residents benefit from the highest level of environmental protection, which can be provided by the planning conditions.

The forthcoming report will be reviewed and verified by NDC’s own acoustic consultant, ahead of any decisions which are ultimately made by NDC and we will share it with all concerned parties.

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We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued patience in relation to this matter.

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Fullabrook noise assessment reports released

Two reports into noise assessments around Fullabrook wind farm have been released to the public.

A Compliance assessment report (15.3MB), by wind farm operator ESB, shows that noise levels recorded at four locations were slightly above the limits set out within the planning consent, in certain wind conditions. It then goes on to highlight how the operator intended to work on the turbines to ensure the wind farm operates below the acceptable noise limits.

Meanwhile, North Devon Council has also released an independent Verification report (599KB), which verifies the robustness of ESB’s assessment study.

North Devon Council Leader Brian Greenslade says: “The council has worked with ESB to negotiate a thorough noise assessment around Fullabrook. This involved securing their agreement for 12 locations to be monitored, instead of five, as specified in the planning conditions. We also successfully requested that tonal noise be monitored at four sites – again, something that goes beyond what the Planning Inspectorate set out when granting permission for the development.

“The reports have now been released and we are assured by our own noise expert that ESB has conducted a robust assessment of the measurements that were gathered. We are further satisfied that the operator has taken prompt action following the report to address the slight exceedances at four of the 12 locations. We now await the results of further assessment at these sites to confirm that they’re within the permitted levels.”

ESB’s report also shows that some tonal noise was recorded following monitoring. Further investigations are now being carried out by the operator, in conjunction with the turbine supplier, to identify the extent and cause of the issue. As a result, the council will continue to work with ESB to ensure they resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

Both the compliance assessment report by ESB and the council’s analysis of the report can be viewed at the Civic Centre in Barnstaple. Copies are also being sent to local households around the wind farm development who were involved in the noise measurement assessment.

Compliance assessment report (15.3MB)

Verification report (599KB)

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Update on Fullabrook wind farm noise measurements

The full results from a noise measurement exercise around Fullabrook wind farm are expected on Friday 28 September 2012.

Preliminary findings indicate that noise levels from some turbines are slightly above the limits set within the planning consent, in certain wind conditions.

North Devon Council has been informed by the wind farm developers ESB that the majority of noise measurements carried out at 12 locations around the site are within the levels set out by the planning conditions. However, four locations recorded noise levels above the limit by a small margin. 

The noise experts are now considering whether there are significant issues with tonal noise and the final report will consider this issue as well.  The operators at Fullabrook have also informed the council that they are in discussions with the manufacturer of the turbines, so that any tonal noise from the turbines can be addressed.

North Devon Council Leader, Councillor Brian Greenslade, says: “We are very conscious that local people are eager to find out the results of the noise monitoring around the wind farm. Therefore, we are pleased the noise experts have now passed this preliminary information on to us. We are satisfied the monitoring has been done thoroughly and hope the findings will reassure some people, whilst identifying further work that the developer needs to do to bring all of the locations within the permitted noise levels and to deal with any issues associated with tonal noise.”

In an update to the council, the developer ESB says: “Where measured noise levels have been shown to be above the noise limits, additional mitigation will be applied to the turbines to ensure that the wind farm is operating below the noise limits, set out in the planning conditions. It is likely that the updated  mitigation will be implemented within the next two weeks.”

Once any actions have been carried out, further noise measurements will then take place at the affected sites, to ensure the turbines are meeting the agreed planning conditions.

The report will be scrutinised by the council’s own noise expert and council officers will be looking to pass on the findings of the report to local people, both by letter and by visiting those most affected.

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Fullabrook noise measurement update

We are still waiting for the report concerning measured noise levels at Fullabrook wind farm and are aware of some residents’ concerns over the length of time this has taken.

The measurement of noise at all 12 locations is largely complete and only one sound level meter remains in place. This is at the council’s request so that additional measurements at this location can be gathered.

The data is now being analysed and a report is expected imminently. We have contacted ESB and the council’s noise expert this week to try to progress the matter and a meeting has taken place today between our respective noise experts.

Once the report is received, we shall use the advice from our noise expert as to its integrity and the conclusions that have been reached, before responding to the findings. Complainants will be informed individually about the report and further information will appear on this blog when we have it.

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Fullabrook wind farm noise monitoring update

ESBi (on behalf of the site operator ESB) has recently requested that noise monitoring equipment be withdrawn from a number of locations, as they believe that suitable and sufficient data has been recorded to enable an assessment of compliance with planning conditions. These locations are:

  • Pippacott
  • Crackaway
  • Greenhill
  • Luscott
  • Metcombe
  • Patsford
  • Beara
  • Halsinger

The council’s noise expert has reviewed the preliminary data analysis. As a result, it has been agreed that data recorded at five locations (Pippacott, Crackaway, Greenhill, Luscott and Metcombe) is sufficient to allow for proper analysis. Therefore permission has been given for noise measurement equipment to be removed. Residents at those locations are being informed and data collected for the final week will be added to that already analysed and included in the final assessment.

The council has requested that equipment remains in place at three of the locations, namely Patsford, Beara and Halsinger, as it feels that more data is required. ESBi has agreed with this and measurements will continue at these locations for a further two weeks, when the data will be further reviewed.

Noise measurement equipment has voluntarily been retained at four other locations, namely Milltown, Burland, Northleigh and Fullabrook, as it is agreed that more data for varying wind conditions is required at these locations.

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Reassurance over length of Fullabrook noise monitoring

Since measurements for the noise assessment started (on Monday 20 February), some useful data has been gathered.  However, we are aware that, due to high atmospheric pressure, winds have been very light for significant periods. 

We would like to reassure residents that this will be taken into account and that the monitoring period may be extended if necessary. 

The measurement will be complete only when suitable and sufficient data, covering a wide range of weather conditions, has been recorded.

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Noise monitoring equipment around Fullabrook now installed

Noise measurement equipment has now been installed at the 12 properties chosen for the noise assessment. North Devon Council appreciates the co-operation of residents, which ensured that the operation went smoothly on Monday 20 February.

The equipment will now be in position for a minimum of one month. This may be slightly longer, depending upon the weather conditions and the adequacy of the data collected.

Residents should be aware that for a period of two weeks, turbines may be shut down between 10pm and midnight. This is to enable the background noise levels (upon which maximum noise levels are based) to be verified. The shutdown has the approval of the council following advice from our noise expert.  We consider it good practice and it will inform the noise assessment rather than detract from it.  If the measurement period needs to be extended as a result, then it will be.

When suitable and sufficient data has been obtained, the results will be analysed and reported to the council, as required by the terms of the planning consent.

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Noise monitoring will begin on Monday

The locations for the noise measuring equipment have now been finalised with local residents and work will begin to measure noise levels on Monday 20 February.

 Measurements will be recorded for at least one month to ensure that the complete range of wind and weather conditions are accounted for. The data will then be analysed and the results will be reported to the council, as required by the planning conditions.

 North Devon Council has also appointed an independent noise expert to oversee the work and we will be undertaking some additional measurements and observations during this time.

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Wind farm noise monitoring – locations explained

Some residents have asked us why noise monitoring equipment is not being installed at or near to their home. Therefore, we would like to explain, so that others, who are also thinking the same thing, can be informed.

North Devon Council is limited in the number of locations at which noise measurement equipment is to be situated for the forthcoming noise assessment. The Secretary of State, when determining the planning application, set the maximum number at five and North Devon Council have successfully negotiated with the site operator (ESB) to increase this to 12 locations in total.

The broad locations have now been settled following a detailed assessment, which was overseen by the council’s noise expert. The assessment took into consideration things such as the proximity of properties to turbines, the range of wind directions where properties would likely experience noise, the number of properties affected at a particular location and complaints received. In addition, measurement positions have been chosen to provide thorough and robust data at locations throughout the community surrounding Fullabrook.

Residents may be concerned that the measurements are not being carried out near to their particular home. This may be because an adjacent property has been chosen or that there are other homes that are closer to the nearest turbine or turbines. However, all local residents can be assured that their concerns have been taken into account when the locations were established.

In simple terms, the data recorded at the locations that have been chosen should be suitable and sufficient to quantify noise levels at all properties. The aim of the forthcoming noise monitoring is to assess compliance or otherwise with the maximum noise levels set within the planning conditions.

Where non-compliance is found, further noise mitigation measures will be imposed. Provided that compliance is achieved at the closest properties, it is expected this will have a knock-on benefit at those properties further away. In addition, the measurement of noise from wind turbines is far more reliable at positions in close proximity.

An officer from Environmental Health and Housing is now visiting individual residents to seek the necessary permissions to install the monitoring equipment. The council understands that some residents might be disappointed that their homes have not been chosen and hope that the above goes some way to providing reassurance that their interests have been considered.

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Noise monitoring scheduled to start on Monday 20 February

It has been confirmed that noise assessment around Fullabrook Down Wind Farm can finally start next month.

The site developer ESB has informed North Devon Council that Western Power Distribution will allow for the wind farm to operate at full capacity from Monday 20 February. This will enable specialist equipment to be installed at 12 sites around the development, to allow for a comprehensive and robust assessment of noise issues.

The 12 measurement positions that have been selected are in the following locations:

  • Fullabrook
  • Halsinger
  • Luscott
  • Pippacott
  • Beara
  • Patsford
  • Greenhill/Middle Marwood
  • Metcombe
  • Crackaway
  • Burland Farm
  • Northleigh/Widdon
  • Milltown

Council officers are currently contacting residents at the 12 selected sites to secure the necessary permissions to install the equipment.

The sound level meters will measure noise for a minimum of one month, until sufficient data has been captured. The data will be collected regularly and will of course take into consideration factors such as varying wind speed and direction.

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