Dods EU Alert: Impact of wind turbines on human health and well-being

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn responds to a written question on wind turbine technology from MEP Jim Nicholson.

By Dods EU monitoring

30 May 2014

Question for written answer E-004125/2014 to the Commission Rule 117 James Nicholson (ECR)

Subject: Impact of wind turbines on human health and well-being

A number of my constituents have raised concerns regarding the negative impact of wind turbine technology on human health and well-being, in terms of light and noise pollution. I would therefore be interested to know:

1. what research the Commission has commissioned or reviewed to assess the impact of wind turbine technology on all aspects of human health and well-being, in particular in relation to the impact of noise and shadow flicker;

2. the conclusions and recommendations of this research; and

3. what research the Commission is currently undertaking, or planning to undertake in the future, to assess the impact of wind turbine technology on all aspects of human health and well-being, in particular in relation to the impact of noise and shadow flicker.

Answer given by Ms Geoghegan-Quinn on behalf of the Commission

The Commission keeps a continuous watch on the possible impacts of wind turbines on health and well-being, taking into account the results from ongoing projects and other sources. So far there has been no scientific evidence of lasting impacts[1], but there is recognition, also in industry, of public perception of impacts and nuisance.

1. The Commission has funded a large coordination action[2] in FP7[3] which reviewed scientific evidence available on potential human health effects of noise in general. In addition, several studies have been performed at national level on the impact of wind turbines on human health.

2. The coordination action concluded, inter alia, that ‘studies are needed to quantify the impact of emerging noise sources such as [..] wind turbine noise, as well as the effectiveness of intervention measures to reduce noise’.

3. Noise as a determinant of health is addressed in the first work programme of the ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’ societal challenge of Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)[4].

Noise pollution is recognised by the wind power industry, and it is taken into account in the design of new and advanced wind turbines and in ongoing and future research and innovation projects. Light pollution (shadow flicker) is taken into account in the planning of new wind farms by project developers.

The Commission is part of a WHO[5] committee reviewing the evidence on the influence of wind turbines noise. Stakeholders are involved in this review. Based thereon, the Commission will consider if further action is necessary at EU level, considering that this is subject to subsidiarity.


[1]   A study of the Massachusetts departments of Environmental Protection and Public Health concluded that there is insufficient evidence for a set of health effects from exposure to wind turbines http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dep/energy/wind/turbine-impact-study.pdf. Studies in Australia have come to similar conclusions.

[2]   European Network on Noise and Health - http://www.ennah.eu/assets/files/ENNAH-Final_report_online_19_3_2013.pdf

[3]   The Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities (FP7, 2007-2013)

[4]   Topic for call for proposals: PHC 31 – 2014 - Foresight for health policy development and regulation (http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/h2020-section/health-demographic-change-and-wellbeing) – evaluations of submitted proposals are ongoing.

[5]   World Health Organisation

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