Wind energy in Europe is expected to grow at a steady, high pace, but opposition from
residents to local wind farm plans is one of the obstacles to further growth. A large body of evidence
shows that local populations want to be involved and respected for their concerns, but in practice,
this is a complex process that cannot be solved with simple measures, such as financial compensation.
The visual presence and the acoustic impact of a wind farm is an important concern for residents.
Generally, environmental noise management aims to reduce the exposure of the population, usually
based on acoustics and restricted to a limited number of sources (such as transportation or industry)
and sound descriptors (such as Lden). Individual perceptions are taken into account only at an
aggregate, statistical level (such as percentage of exposed, annoyed or sleep-disturbed persons in
the population). Individual perceptions and reactions to sound vary in intensity and over different
dimensions (such as pleasure/fear or distraction). Sound level is a predictor of the perceived health
effects of sound, but explains only part of the reaction. The positive or negative perception of and
attitude to the source of the sound is a better predictor of its effects. This article aims to show how
the two perspectives (based on acoustics and on perception) can lead to a combined approach in the
management of a wind farm aimed to reduce annoyance, not only on a sound level. An important
aspect in this approach is what the sound means to people, leading to the following questions: is
it associated with the experience of having no say in plans, does it lead to anxiety or worry and
is it appropriate? The available knowledge will be applied to wind farm management, including
planning as well as operation.
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