Introduction

On August 27 2015 the government issued a decree governing wind farm noise levels (for further details please see "Wind farm noise-limit regulation reform"). Before the new decree was enacted there were no regulations specific to noise limits applicable to wind farms. General limits were governed by the Environmental Protection Act (527/2014) and general noise guidelines (applicable to all kinds of building) were regulated by the Council of State (993/1992). The general guidelines did not fit well with the special characteristics of wind farms and the Ministry of Environment issued separate, non-binding directions concerning acceptable wind farm noise levels. This meant that the old regulatory regime was open for interpretation and was therefore unpredictable.

Noise limits

The new decree sets noise level limits of 40 decibels (dB) during the night and 45dB during the day in residential and holiday home areas.

Noise calculations are based on the noise guarantee value published by the equipment manufacturer. After the construction of a wind farm, noise values are based on actual measured values. In cases where a wind farm is located in an area susceptible to pulsating noise, a 5dB addition is made to the measurements before comparing the actual results with the limits.

Application

The decree's new noise limits apply to wind farm projects not yet in the permission procedure stage. Thus, the decree does not apply to wind farms which already had legally valid environmental permission or building permission at the time the decree entered into force. However, the decree will be applicable to future amendments to environmental permission applications and in evaluating the need for such applications for wind farms already operating on the basis of building permissions.

The decree does not apply to projects for which the proposal for a master plan is on public view or projects for which the building permission or planning permission application is pending. The same applies to pending environmental permission applications.

For further information on this topic please contact Sami Kyntölä or Lauri Toivio at Sivenius Suvanto & Co Ltd by telephone (+358 9 530 6760) or email (sami.kyntola@sisulaw.fi or lauri.toivio@sisulaw.fi). The Sivenius Suvanto & Co Ltd website can be accessed at www.sisulaw.fi.

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