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Offshore wind farm pile driving raises hackles in UK

Human impacts, Ocean energy, Wind turbines Add comments

PiledrivingConstruction of a wind farm a bit over a mile from shore near Redcar, on the northeast coast of England, has raised the hackles of local residents. At issue is the unexpectedly loud sound of pile-driving at the site; construction of the turbine foundations entails the construction of foundations that extend 32 m (about a hundred feet) into the seabed, according to this summary of its EIS.

This local news report quotes many local residents who were shocked at the intensity of the repeated pulses of noise from the pile-driving:

Newcomen ward councillor Chris Abbott said: “One resident described it as sounding like someone was standing in their back garden, banging a drum continuously.” Neil Short, a 40-year-old depot sales manager of Coatham Road, said: “The noise echoed through the house. I’d been at work since 4.30am so to come home to listen to that wasn’t good.”

The construction site is in about 20m/60ft of water; it’s not clear if the sound is propagating out of the water and through the air, or along the seafloor and out into the air as it reaches shore. Of course, these construction noises will be relatively temporary. A spokesman for EDF Energy Renewables said that they are monitoring sound levels and are within permitted limits; he also noted that “to help minimize potential longer term disruption,” they’ll be reducing the installation period, so may need to work at night, which is part of what triggered so many complaints.  (Ed. note: reducing the time needed to hire the pile-driving platform, pictured above, is undoubtedly also a budgetary decision by the company.)

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