In 2023, Flanders saw the highest number of complaints about wind turbines in the past seven years, totaling 66 grievances, as revealed by Flemish Environment

Minister Zuhal Demir. This surge in complaints, according to Flemish MP Johan Deckmyn from Vlaams Belang, underscores the need for designated planning areas for wind turbines.

Comparatively, there were 51 complaints in 2022 and 29 in 2021, with only 2015 and 2016 surpassing 2023's figures, registering 72 and 94 complaints, respectively. Noise nuisance and shadow flicker emerged as the primary reasons behind the complaints.

The record number of complaints in 2023 coincided with a year that witnessed a record number of permits issued, totaling 93 projects. Consequently, 112 turbines were constructed, marking the highest since 2019. Deckmyn attributes the surge in complaints to Minister Demir's streamlined licensing policy, where the Flemish government became the sole authority for turbines with a capacity of at least 1.5 MW from September 2022.

Currently, Flanders hosts 689 operational wind turbines with a combined capacity of 1809 MW. The Environmental Inspectorate handles complaints concerning Class 1 wind turbines, those exceeding 5,000 kW, with 85% of the grievances resolved.

Despite the increase in complaints, a 2021 study commissioned by the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency and the Flemish Regulator for the Electricity and Gas Markets indicated that 65% of Flemish citizens support wind energy. However, 21% expressed opposition to wind turbines in their communities. The government notes that media coverage often amplifies opposition, distorting the actual sentiment.

The siting of wind turbines adheres to Flemish regulations, favoring locations near linear infrastructure and areas with high energy demand. Residential areas are considered, provided noise and shadowing standards are met. Photo by Paul Van Welden, Wikimedia commons.