Fear of precedent ruling on noise

Sweden's wind sector is nervously awaiting the outcome of a dispute between a small wind company and the authorities over noise that could have far-reaching implications. The controversy centres on a Vestas 600 kW unit at Kulle, on Gotland island, that Siral System installed six years ago.

Although the plant was legally erected in compliance with building norms, it is threatened with closure after complaints from neighbours about noise. Their protests were taken up by Gotland's county administration and the case ended up at Sweden's Supreme Administrative Court, which ruled that the turbine constituted a private nuisance and must be dismantled.

According to Siral, no measurements were taken to test if the plant exceeded the legal 40 decibels; the authorities relied on anecdotal evidence. "If we are forced to move this turbine it will set a legal precedent that could result in half of Sweden's wind farms being closed because someone close by thinks they make too much noise," says Siral boss Peter Sirland.

Sirland plans to contest the ruling and commission a private study of the turbine's noise emissions. He stresses that Siral remains committed to expanding its operations at Kulle, which at present consist of four turbines. The company has secured planning permission to build a further nine turbines in the vicinity.

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