Wind turbines hearing: Davis family’s QC defends ‘nuisance overreaction’ accusations

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A COUPLE who say they were driven out of their family farm in Deeping St Nicholas by the “nightmare” hum of wind turbines have mounted a ground-breaking £2.5million compensation bid in London’s High Court.

Court proceedings began yesterday in a pioneering case which will test the law on whether the sound created by the turbines amounts to a noise nuisance.

Jane and Julian Davis are suing landowners RC Tinsley Ltd and Nicholas Watts, on whose land some of the turbines are sited, as well as Fenland Windfarms Ltd and Fenland Green Power Cooperative Ltd, who own and operate the turbines.

Their lawyers are seeking either a permanent injunction to shut the turbines down or damages of up to £2.5million to compensate the couple for the disruption to their lives.

The couple’s QC, Peter Harrison, alleged that the main turbine operator tried to “impose a code of silence on those examining or recording the noise that these turbines in this location have caused”.

They had, he claimed, tried to “attack the credibility and reasonableness of the claimants rather than examine what they were actually being told”.

“From the defendants’ witness statements, and the material they wish to put before the court, it seems that those attempts to undermine the claimants, to say they are over-sensitive, that they are exaggerating and over-reacting, will continue during the trial,” the barrister added.

He claimed the defendants had been irked by Mrs Davis’ eagerness to “speak publicly” and that she was being attacked for refusing to “put up with the noise”.

“To not quietly accept your fate, it appears, is the ultimate provocation,” he said.

William Norris, QC, for the owners, operators and landlords, rejected claims that the machines created an unacceptable noise and said the couple may have become “unduly sensitised to sounds that would not adversely affect the ordinary person”.

He accepted their “amenity” had been affected, but added that his clients’ explanation for this was: “Theirs has been a gross over-reaction to what they undoubtedly do hear.

“They are – or have become – unduly sensitive to the presence of and the noise generated by the windfarm.”

The QC accepted the couple heard sounds they genuinely believed to be “objectionable” after the turbines were installed but argued they could not be considered “dispassionate and reliable witnesses” and said Mrs Davis is prone to exaggeration and “favours hyperbole rather than balanced description”.

The defendants were willing to carry out “remedial strategies” to curtail any “adverse impact”, Mr Norris continued, but alleged that the Davis’ had no co-operated.

The case will hear a technical debate on three types of turbine noise and is expected to last up to three weeks. It was adjourned until Wednesday for the judge and lawyers to carry out a site visit.