A Questionnaire Designed to Capture the Impact of Wind Turbine Noise on Human Well-being

Fei Qu and Aki Tsuchiya

Abstract

Wind farms are becoming a common feature of landscapes in many countries and more large-scale wind turbines are seen in cities, close to residential areas. The possible adverse impacts of wind turbine noise on human health and well-being has attracted substantial attention. Nevertheless, existing studies have provided limited statistical evidence for the link between wind turbine noise and adverse health problems other than annoyance, and have typically not accounted for the effects of socio-demographic and architectural factors. Furthermore, questionnaires that fail to mask the purpose of the study may lead respondents to pay more attention to wind turbine noise than they usually do, and thus be susceptible to a focusing bias.

This paper presents a detailed description of a questionnaire that is designed to take into account a wider range of factors and to minimise possible focusing bias. The aim of the questionnaire is to elicit: the respondent’s evaluation of various environmental noise including wind turbine noise; their self-reported sleep disturbance, health symptoms, general health and subjective well-being; and key features of their residence. The inclusion of a large number of questions on socio-demographic and architectural factors provides a wide range of variables that may be associated with the effect of noise. Possible focusing effect is minimised by designing a questionnaire variant that does not draw attention to wind turbine noise, to be answered by a control group from the same population. The design of specific questions and the response items are presented with the relevant background literature. This questionnaire can be (and has been) used to investigate the impact of exposure to wind turbine noise and well-being, and to address the evidence gap in evaluating the impacts in urbanised settings.