NIMBYs Are Making More Noise Than Wind Turbines


There is increasing concern that electricity generation from fossil fuels contributes to climate change and air pollution. In response to these concerns, governments around the world are encouraging the installation of intermittent electricity generation projects including Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT’s).

But Whoa, Nelly! NIMBYs (Not-In-My-Backyard) around the globe from Germany to Australia, California, New York, and Massachusetts are speaking loudly, and acting, to put a halt to the invasion of noisy wind farms in their backyards. Following numerous reports from Maryland to Canada to France on wind turbine noise, the NIMBYs are becoming energized (no pun intended).

  • The National Center for Biotechnology Information located in Bethesda, Maryland (NCBI) reported that industrial wind turbine noise amplitude modulation, audible low frequency noise, tonal noise, infrasound, and lack of nighttime abatement have been identified as plausible noise characteristics that could cause annoyance and other health effects. Documented symptoms reported by individuals exposed to wind turbines, include: Sleep disturbance, Headaches, Ear pressure, Dizziness, Vertigo, Nausea, Visual blurring, Irritability, Problems with concentration and memory, and Panic episodes associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering when awake or asleep.
  • The French Academy of Medicine Declare Wind Turbines Health Nuisance. The planned extension of the terrestrial wind energy sector raises an increasing number of complaints from associations of local residents reporting functional disturbances achieving what is known as the “wind turbine syndrome”. The report notes that noise is the most frequent complaint. The noise is described as piercing, preoccupying, and continually surprising, as it is irregular in intensity. The noise includes grating and incongruous sounds that distract the attention or disturb rest. The spontaneous recurrence of these noises disturbs the sleep, suddenly awakening the subject when the wind rises and preventing the subject from going back to sleep.

Despite the political obsession for intermittent electricity generated from wind turbines, NIMBYs are alive and well! Here is a sampling of NIMBYs around the globe from Germany to Australia, California, New York, and Massachusetts that are stepping up to stop the installation of those monstrosities in their backyards:

  • In Germany, thousands are being driven mad by practically incessant, turbine generated low-frequency noise and infra-sound, and are fighting back with a fury and energy which has rattled the wind industry. There are now hundreds of anti-wind industry groups across Germany. And many of those groups and individuals have launched litigation against developers and government to either prevent wind farms from being built, or to seek substantial financial compensation for the loss of the use and enjoyment of their homes. In Germany, locals expressed their opposition in no uncertain terms – voting 25 to 1 against a giant wind project proposed for their patch of paradise.

  • In Australia and New Zealand, reports of adverse health effects and reduced quality of life are also documented in Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs) projects in their countries.
  • In California, San Bernardino is the state’s largest county, and “has banned the construction of large solar and wind farms of more than 1 million acres of private land.” Residents do not want their rural desert community littered with renewables.
  • In Massachusetts, the Town of Falmouth had documentation prior to the installations of its wind turbines that the megawatt wind turbines were too loud for residential locations. The documentation includes emails, maps, a written letter warning and an admission by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center in 2013 that “mistakes” were made in the original acoustic noise predictions. The first Falmouth wind turbine started operating in 2010. Ultimately the wind turbine installations in Falmouth are far worse than any experiment ever conducted in the United States as state and local officials always had first-hand knowledge of the damage to health and the requirement to take property with no compensation. State and local officials were following an agenda to achieve 2000 megawatts of commercial wind turbine power by the year 2020.

The list of the NIMBY resistance goes on and on at locations like New York, Wisconsin, and Scotland, etc.

Before too hastily pursuing those wind turbines for the generation of intermittent electricity, politicians should read the numerous published reports from Maryland to Canada to France about the effects of wind turbine noise, and listen to their NIMBY constituents that are rejecting those monstrosities in their backyards.

This piece first appeared and

Ron Stein is an engineer who, drawing upon 25 years of project management and business development experience, launched PTS Advance in 1995. He is an author, engineer, and energy expert who writes frequently on issues of energy and economics.