Lobbying from the wind industry could be likened to lobbying from the tobacco industry in the 1950s. We are now fully aware of the hazards of smoking tobacco but how long before our government stop accepting lobbying from the industry and wake up to the hazards of living near wind turbines?
“When a mistake is repeated, it is not a mistake anymore…it is a decision”- Paolo Coelho.
In the 1950’s, the tobacco lobby used medical professionals to insist that there was no medical evidence of harm from tobacco products. Indeed one advertisement, supported by research conducted by physicians, declared that “Phillip Morris” brand tobacco eased irritated throats and “every case of irritation cleared completely or definitely improved.” Phillip Morris soon became a major brand.
The tobacco lobby in the 1950’s could be compared to the powerful wind industry lobby today. Despite the growing body of peer-reviewed research demonstrating that wind turbines can cause serious adverse health effects in susceptible nearby residents, the wind lobby and Governments continue to dismiss this evidence.
However, in a recent groundbreaking study at Pacific Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater wind farm in the state of Victoria, Australia’s leading acoustical engineer Steven Cooper found that a unique infrasound pattern, which he had labelled “Wind Turbine Signature” in previous studies, correlates (through a “trend line”) with the occurrence and severity of symptoms of residents who had complained of often-unbearable “sensations”. These include sleep disturbance, headaches, heart racing, pressure in the head, ears or chest, etc. as described by the residents (symptoms generally known as Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS), or the euphemism “noise annoyance”).
The acoustician also identified “discrete low frequency amplitude modulated signals” emitted by wind turbines and found the wind farm victims were also reacting to those. The Wind Turbine Signature cannot be detected using traditional measuring indexes such as dB(A) or dB(C) and 1/3 Octave bands, concludes his study. Narrowband analysis must be used instead, with results expressed in dB(WTS). He suggests medical studies be conducted using infrasound measurements in dB(WTS) in order to determine the threshold of what is unacceptable in terms of sound pressure level.
The findings are consistent with the official Kelley studies published in the US more than 30 years ago, which showed that infrasound emitted by early, downwind turbines caused sleep disturbance and other WTS symptoms. These studies were shelved, upwind turbines were designed and the regulatory authorities simply trusted the wind industry’s assertion that the new models did not emit dangerous infrasound. The Cooper study now proves they were wrong.
Another conclusion of his study is that the Danish method used for measuring low-frequency “noise annoyance” near wind farms is inadequate. So are the wind turbine noise standards applied to wind farms in Victoria, Australia and New Zealand, known as “New Zealand Standard 6808”. Just as inadequate are all other standards regulating “annoyance” near wind farms around the world including Ireland. They simply don’t take infrasound into account. Scores of medical practitioners and researchers from around the world are vindicated by this benchmark study, as are the residents reporting WTS symptoms themselves, many of whom have had to regularly or permanently abandon their homes.
Nevertheless, Governments in many countries around the world continue to assert that wind energy is viewed as a viable and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels, although as Sherri Lange of NA-PAW points out “wind does nothing at all to abate climate change or reduce CO2 levels. It is possibly the largest scale environmental and economic fraud ever perpetuated.”
The Brown County Town Health Board in Wisconsin recently declared Duke Energy’s Shirley Industrial Wind Turbine Development to be a Human Health Hazard. The precise wording of the declaration was: “To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County. WI. a Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.” Link
Meanwhile, a Canadian lawyer said recently that Ontario’s Green Energy Act violates the constitutional right of turbine neighbours to live in a place free from the “reasonable prospect of serious harm.” In the first constitutional challenge of the turbine approval process to hit the Ontario Court of Appeal, lawyer Julian Falconer argued that the whole approvals process “doesn’t allow people to protect their own health.” That, he said, violates their rights to live free from harm.
Health, according to the World Health Organisation, is a fundamental human right:
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being”. (WHO, 1948).
So, here in Ireland, where does our own Department of Health stand on all of this? In their response to a query from Deputy Helen McEntee on 30th Oct 2014, the Department stated as follows; “A range of symptoms have been described by people living close to wind turbines mainly related to environmental noise exposure. These symptoms include headaches, irritability, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, dizziness, anxiety and sleep disturbance and are often described in relation to annoyance. Anyone who experiences such symptoms should seek medical advice from their family doctor who may be able to prescribe suitable medication.”
So the Irish Department of Health is aware of the effects of WTN on human health and instead of urging that the precautionary principle should apply, they are advocating medication for sufferers!
Having presided over thalidomide and symphysiotomy scandals as well as the notorious vaccine trials, one would imagine that our Department of Health would be treading with caution here. Clearly, this does not seem to be the case. It has taken decades for Governments to realise that the powerful tobacco lobby were peddling untruths in the 1950’s when they proclaimed the health benefits of smoking. Will it take Governments as long to realise that living in proximity to industrial wind turbines causes deleterious adverse health effects in susceptible neighbours? They can’t say that they weren’t warned!