Podcast: the 'Hunterston hum' from oil ships that keeps people awake at night 6

Podcast: the ‘Hunterston hum’ from oil ships that keeps people awake at night

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These are the oil drilling ships which have towered over the Clyde at Hunterston Pier near Fairlie.

Podcast: the 'Hunterston hum' from oil ships that keeps people awake at night 7

They’ve been lit up at night with generators and sometimes main engines running – producing a disturbing low-frequency hum, often below the audible range.

Podcast: the 'Hunterston hum' from oil ships that keeps people awake at night 8
Rita Holmes say noise from the ships impacts on health and wellbeing.

Local people such as Rita Holmes say the hum has had impacts on their health and wellbeing. Yachtsman Jackie Pearson says the ships run their engines to keep them in place after one was blown off its moorings – and the combined engines produce disturbing noise.

The Hunterston industrial area nearby was previously used to test giant offshore wind turbines, producing a similar low hum. The same area is slated to be used to make the sub-sea cables needed to bring offshore wind ashore. Local people fear that once the ships are gone the cable works will be another source of noise nuisance.

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Jackie Pearson is also affected by the Hunterston hum.

Peel Ports, which owns the pier and the industrial site, says noise levels from the ships “fall comfortably within the regulations”. The development plans for the site will bring “hundreds of highly-skilled jobs”, it claims.

Meanwhile the cable-making firm, XLCC, says it is making major efforts to ensure its operation is quiet, including noise insulation and electric power for cable-loading ships.

With the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow due in November, our podcast by Richard Baynes will let you hear the hum — and more about the impact of potential energy industries on this slice of the Clyde coast.

Listen to more of The Ferret’s Podcasts here.

Photos thanks to Richard Baynes. Music thanks to Kevin Hartnell.

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