Lobby Group ‘Influenced Wind Farm Noise Report’

  • Date: 03/12/13
  • Gordon Rayner, and Georgia Graham, The Daily Telegraph

Internal energy department emails released following a freedom of information request show the lobby group RenewableUK met ministry officials and assured that their input was “reflected in guidance”

The lobby group for the turbine industry was able to influence the wording of a report produced for the Government on how noise from wind farms should be measured.

RenewableUK “raised concerns” with the Department of Energy and Climate Change over independent guidance produced by the Institute of Acoustics which resulted in changes being made.

Internal energy department emails released following a freedom of information request show the lobby group met ministry officials, after which it was assured that “the majority of R-UK’s input” was “reflected in the guidance”.

Both the Government and the report’s author said last night that RenewableUK had not influenced the advice, but the emails raise new questions about the Coalition’s openness over its wind farm policy.

Earlier this year, the energy department, which is run by Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, was accused of blocking a report on the impact of wind farms because of fears that it would undermine the case for turbines. The Lib Dems support onshore wind farms.

The emails uncovered yesterday relate to guidance published in May over implementing a method of measuring noise from wind farms. The guidance includes taking measurements between 3.5 and 20 metres from homes, and excluding background noise such as bird song from the data on predicted levels.

RenewableUK lobbied the Institute of Acoustics during a 12-week consultation period and was invited on to a peer review panel. An email from an energy department official to RenewableUK on May 10 said: “I understand you met with [name removed] and […] to discuss your concerns about the IoA noise good practice guidance – in particular sound power levels and cumulative impacts. I’m aware that […] has spoken to […], who has confirmed that the majority of R-UK’s input has been reflected in the guidance.”

Last night RenewableUK said: “We raised concerns and asked for clarification because the draft wording was not clear. Once those issues had been resolved, we were supportive of the new guidance.”

An energy department spokesman said the guidance “drew on the expertise of a range of parties”.

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