"It could drive you mad." (Makara, New Zealand)

Jul 25, 2009


“‘I’ve been a complete mess,’ Mrs Renner said.  The sound was ‘like an airport’ on bad nights, Lynne Carter said. 

“Haydon Miller said Meridian had promised the wind farm would not be noisy. ‘Either they misled us, or they got it terribly wrong.'”

Courtesy of Chittka L. Brockmann (with adaptations by WTS.com)

—Paul Easton, The Dominion Post (New Zealand), with appreciation

July 25, 2009

A humming noise from a wind farm near Wellington is driving sleep-deprived locals potty.

Like the wind, they don’t sleep:  From left, Ingrid Renner, Treena Patterson, Lyn Carter, Maryanne Gill, Amanda Kvalsvig, Chris Baguley and three-year-old daughter Alex, John Mills and Haydon Miller.

“It’s been horrific, it’s noise torture,” Makara resident Hans Renner said. “We just want some sleep, I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request.”

He and his wife, Ingrid, said they had lost sleep because of low-frequency noise from Meridian Energy’s West Wind site. “I’ve been a complete mess,” Mrs Renner said.

The noise sparked 20 complaints to Meridian last week alone.

The 62-turbine West Wind project has been taking shape southwest of Makara since September 2007. It started operating in April, and 40 of the turbines have now been installed and turned on.  West Wind is on track to be finished by the end of the year.

Meridian spokeswoman Claire Shaw said high winds this week may have contributed to a surge in complaints.  “Meridian … spends time and energy ensuring wind farms comply with conditions.”

Under Environment Court conditions, noise from West Wind should not exceed 40 decibels at nearby homes. A letter from Meridian to a Makara resident said up to 46 decibels was recorded at their home in May, but background noise could not be separated from wind farm noise.

If found to be breaching its resource consent, Meridian could be made to reduce the noise, for example by temporarily stopping some turbines.

Noise from West Wind was described by locals as a low-frequency hum, with an occasional “whump.”  It was worse at night, peaking to a roar like a distant jet. “It’s the plane that never arrives,” John Mills said.

The sound was “like an airport” on bad nights, Lynne Carter said. “It could drive you mad.”

Mrs Renner said calling an 0800 number set up by Meridian had not helped. “They were so arrogant. I asked, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ They said, ‘Nothing’.”

Ms. Shaw said every complaint was logged and taken seriously. This week’s data from monitoring equipment would be ready soon.

Haydon Miller said Meridian had promised the wind farm would not be noisy. “Either they misled us, or they got it terribly wrong.”

Editor’s note:  See follow-up article here.

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