Two more Australian Medical Practitioners have publicly highlighted their concerns about serious health problems experienced by their patients, living in the vicinity of wind turbine developments. They join the first Australian Clinical Whistleblower to speak out about this problem, Dr David Iser, who first expressed his concerns publicly in 2004, based on a small study he conducted on his patients living near the Toora Wind Development in South Gippsland, Victoria. There are now clinicians from the UK, Europe, Canada, United States and Australia all finding the same clinical patterns of illness, calling for urgent independent research and caution with siting of wind turbines.
Dr Wayne Spring, Ballarat Sleep Physician, discussed his increasing concern in an article recently printed in the Ballarat Courier, after seeing numerous patients from the local district. Dr Spring has supported the senate inquiry’s recommendation for a formal health study, and has pointed out that sleep deprivation is bad for health, regardless of the cause, and likened the current situation to that of tobacco and cancer in the 1950’s.
Concurrently, Dr Andja Mitric-Andjic, Rural GP practising in Daylesford, Victoria, has recently disclosed her concerns about sleep deprivation and other symptoms occurring in her patients, and her family, who live near the “community owned” wind farm with two turbines developed by Hepburn Wind, situated at Leonard’s Hill, near Daylesford.
Locals affected at Leonard’s Hill by Hepburn Wind’s turbines who have courageously chosen to speak out include Maree and Trevor Frost, and Jan Perry . Unfortunately but predictably, these people have already been subjected to the ugly “victim blaming” vilification others have also endured, both locally and also on the internet, espoused by some of the more zealous wind energy supporters who appear at best to lack any human decency and compassion.
Small community owned wind developments owned by well intentioned shareholders can make adjoining residents and even their visitors seriously unwell, just as large developments owned by large corporations can, if they are sited too close to adjoining residents.
The physical forces and soundwaves involved are the same, no matter how much “community consultation” has taken place, and no matter what the structure of ownership of the development is. To suggest otherwise is simply to ignore the laws of physics.
There are now over 20 rural Australian families we know of who have become so unwell after the turbines started operating that they have either abandoned their homes, or who have been bought out by wind developers after signing agreements with ‘gag’ clauses prohibiting them from speaking publicly about their health problems. One example of the latter is Trish Godfrey. The wind developer Acciona’s denials of her health problems were clearly shown to be untrue when she testified under oath in a court case in Adelaide in January 2011 . The only time Mrs Godfrey can speak publicly about her ordeal is if she is subpoenaed to give evidence in court, according to the terms of her agreement.
I am also aware of numerous families of landowners hosting turbines who have moved off their properties to live elsewhere, or who spend significant periods of time away from their homes near the turbines. Some of these families are in contact with the Waubra Foundation, seeking confidential advice and information about the health and noise problems they too are experiencing. All have been reluctant to speak out publicly for a variety of reasons, including confidentiality clauses in their agreements with wind developers.
Many more families including vulnerable individuals such as children and the elderly are becoming extremely unwell, by staying in their homes, with continued exposure to operating turbines. Some are trapped, as they cannot afford to buy a home elsewhere, cannot sell their homes, and have no other options besides homelessness. Locations of those who have reluctantly resorted to leaving their homes include Windy Hill in Queensland; Toora, Waubra and Cape Bridgewater in Victoria; and Waterloo in South Australia.
There is mounting evidence and cause for concern globally about the adverse health reports from rural residents living with large wind turbines in quiet rural areas, according to Professor Carl Phillips, US epidemiologist, formerly from Harvard University.
In his paper, Professor Phillips states “there is overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents….the bulk of the evidence takes the form of what are probably thousands of adverse event reports…..compelling evidence of the seriousness of the problems and of causation”.
The recent publication of Professor Phillips’ paper in a peer reviewed journal in Ontario together with a collection of other papers from international experts on this topic (see August edition of http://bst.sagepub.com, for abstracts of these papers please see http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/news/2011/wind-energy-and-health-special-issue-of-science-journal/) makes it clear this is a serious emerging global public health problem requiring urgent properly conducted independent research and concurrent adoption of a precautionary approach to wind turbine siting.
A precautionary approach was also advocated by the NH&MRC in their public statement in 2009, and in their CEO Professor Warwick Anderson’s oral testimony to the Federal Senate Inquiry into Rural Wind farms on 31st March, 2011 (see 188.8.131.52/hansard/senate/commttee/S13730.pdf). Instead, in Australia currently, we have the ongoing denial of a problem by the wind developers, and denial, lack of action and lack of appropriate regulation of wind developments from almost ALL levels of government.
Everyone concerned would do well to note a recent Canadian Court judgment finding that wind turbines do indeed cause harm to human health, if they are placed too close to residents, and that further research is required.
“While the Appellants were not successful in their appeals, the Tribunal notes that their involvement and that of the Respondents, has served to advance the state of the debate about wind turbines and human health. This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.” (p. 207) (Emphasis added)
[i] Environmental Review Tribunal, Case Nos.: 10-121/10-122 Erickson v. Director, Ministry of the Environment, Dated this 18th day of July, 2011 by Jerry V. DeMarco, Panel Chair and Paul Muldoon, Vice-Chair, http://www.ert.gov.on.ca/english/decisions/index.htm
We also bring everyone’s attention to the Waubra Foundation’s Explicit Cautionary Notice, (see http://waubrafoundation.com.au/).
When are the respective Australian State and Federal Governments going to commission appropriate independent research by experts in their fields, recommended as an urgent priority by the Australian Federal Senate Inquiry report, (released in June 2011, see http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/clac_ctte/impact_rural_wind_farms/report/index.htm), to prevent further serious harm currently being done to Australian rural citizens, currently sanctioned by the state because of ill informed, inadequate and outdated planning and noise pollution laws and regulations?
When are those noise pollution laws and regulations going to be properly enforced, inadequate as they currently are, for the protection of the health of vulnerable rural citizens, who are currently being driven out of their homes?
When are Australian governments going to adopt a “precautionary approach” with respect to siting wind turbines as advised by the National Health and Medical Research Council’s CEO, Professor Warwick Anderson, who has clearly stated in oral testimony to the Australian Federal Senate inquiry he does not consider wind turbines are free of adverse effects (“we do not consider there are no ill effects”), and is concerned at the lack of current evidence, and who agrees there is a need for research?
We won’t know what a SAFE “evidence based” turbine setback distance is, until the research is done.