Wind power… benefits the environment.
- Wind power has a light footprint. Its operation does not produce harmful emissions or any hazardous waste. It does not deplete natural resources in the way that fossil fuels do, nor does it cause environmental damage through resource extraction, transport and waste management.
- In a wind farm the turbines themselves take up less than 1% of the land area. Once up and running, existing activities such as agriculture and hiking can continue around them. Farm animals such as cows and sheep are not disturbed.
- Any impacts on the local environment (see below) must be set against the much more serious effects of not developing renewable energy sources and thereby aggravating the pressures of climate change on the balance of nature. Wind power has limited impacts on habitats and wildlife.
- Wind farm developers are required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to ensure that their potential effect on the immediate surroundings, including fauna and flora, are carefully considered before construction is allowed to start. They also work closely with conservation and wildlife groups to ensure that new developments are sympathetic to existing habitats. In many cases impacts can be avoided or reduced by adjusting the number of turbines or re-siting individual turbines.
- Wind power’s overall impact on birds, bats, other wildlife and natural habitats is highly site specific. In addition, impacts from wind power are extremely low compared with other human-related activities. Deaths from birds flying into wind turbines represent a small fraction of those caused by other human-related sources such as cats and buildings. For example US statistics show 1 billion birds are killed by colliding with buildings each year and up to 80 million by vehicles. By comparison, it’s estimated that commercial wind turbines in the US cause the direct deaths of only 0.01 – 0.02% of all of the birds killed annually by collisions with man-made structures and activities.
- Despite this minimal impact, extensive efforts are made to avoid siting wind farms in areas which might attract large numbers of birds or bats, such as migration routes. Avian studies are routinely conducted at wind sites before projects are proposed, and any changes monitored afterwards. With careful siting and strategic planning, the most sensitive areas can be avoided and wind development can proceed quickly.
Wind power… is not noisy
- At a distance of 300 metres, a modern wind turbine is no noisier than a kitchen refrigerator or a moderately quiet room. Improved design has drastically reduced the noise of mechanical components so that the most audible sound is that of the wind interacting with the rotor blade. This is similar to a light swishing sound, and much quieter than other types of modern-day equipment. Even in generally quiet rural areas, the sound of the blowing wind is often louder than the turbines.
- To avoid potential disturbance to neighbours, strict rules are applied by local authorities to ensure that wind turbines are located at an agreed distance from nearby houses.
Wind power… has limited impact on the landscape
- Wind farms developers have to take into consideration the potential landscape and visual impact when selecting a site. Visual representation (photomontages) are produced and discussions held with the local community.
Wind power… does not make people sick
- In 2012 the NSW Health Department gave written advice to the NSW government stating that after existing studies on health issues and wind farms had been examined no known causal link between these could be established. Fears that wind turbines make people sick are “not scientifically valid”.