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Technical Standards Relating to Wind Farm Acoustics

Dr Daniel Shepherd


A technical standard is a recognised norm or requirement. It consists of a formal document that describes a standardised criterion, method, process, or practise. Standards maybe developed at an international level, in which case they are classified as international standards, or locally by individual nations, in which case they are national standards. The process of agreeing to a technical standard is known as standardisation.

Standards have been an unqualified success in the field of engineering, science, and commerce. The ability to stipulate a standardised procedure, test, definition, or specification is akin to creating a common language or frame of reference that facilitates communication and understanding between diverse groups.

Issues Around the Use of Standards

However, the existence of a standard does not presuppose that the standard itself is the correct procedure, test, definition, or specification. Nor does it imply that the standard is actually useful or effective. In fact, standards are evolving entities that are constantly undergoing review and change. As the WHO[5] states:

“It is evident that noise emission standards have proven insufficient and that the trends in noise pollution are unsustainable.”

It is these very standards that the appellant uses to argue against the imposition of noise conditions.

The WHO, in their publication ‘Guidelines for community noise’[5] acknowledges that their recommendations are a work in progress and that there is still much to be done:

“Continuing efforts will be made to improve its content and structure."

In their 2004 study[12] on the health effects of noise, they abandon the criteria set out in 1999[5] altogether, instead opting to correlate health effects with perceived noise annoyance as opposed to noise level.

There are calls from acoustics experts to update current American noise standards[48]:

“Changes in present USA noise-measurement procedures and noise-control guidelines are proposed that provide more accurate predictions of annoyance, related adverse effects, and criteria for setting tolerable limits of exposure in residential areas."...


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