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Wind turbine syndrome: farm hosts tell very different story

By johnboy 18 September 2013 95

wind turbines

By Simon Chapman

People who host wind turbines on their properties and derive rental income from wind energy companies have important stories to tell about living alongside turbines, but they’ve largely been absent from the debate on wind farms and health. Australian filmmaker and researcher Neil Barrett is finally giving this critical group a voice in his new short film, The way the wind blows, released today.

In Barrett’s short film, 15 hosts and some of their neighbours from the central Victorian district near the town of Waubra tell what it’s like to live surrounded by large turbines.

Turbine hosts at Waubra earn A$8,000 a year for each turbine on their land. In the bush, the expression that wind farms can “drought-proof a farm” is common: a land owner with ten turbines can wake up each morning comfortable in the thought that a tough year with poor rain or bad frosts can be ridden out, thanks to income from wind generation.

All of Barrett’s interviewees say they can hear the turbines but none say they are bothered by them or suffer from any health problems they attribute to the turbines. If there is such a phenomenon as “wind turbine syndrome” it would seem it is a condition that, remarkably, can be prevented by the wonder drug called money.

Significantly, too, none of those interviewed say their contracts prevent them from speaking publicly about their experiences with hosting turbines, repudiating the mantra of wind farm opponents that suffering hosts are gagged from speaking out by evil wind companies.

In 2010, a small group comprising mostly wealthy landowners established the Waubra Foundation, which opposes wind farms being established near their country estates. None of the directors of the foundation nor its chief executive, an unregistered former GP Sarah Laurie, live within 125km of Waubra, yet took on the name of the town to highlight what they believe are serious health problems associated with living near wind turbines.

Barrett’s film reveals the deep resentment that Waubra residents feel about these out-of-towners hijacking their town’s good name. None say that Laurie has ever contacted them, with one commenting, “I wouldn’t give them the time of day if they turned up here.”

Laurie and the Waubra Foundation have done all they can to spread concern about the harms they allege are caused by living near wind farms. One former Waubra resident has been particularly prominent, speaking emotionally at anti-wind farm meetings about how wind farms have ruined his health and caused his family to move to Ballarat, at great personal expense.

In a statement that would be of immense interest to Apple, Samsung and Nokia, he recently told a meeting in Barringhup that electricity generated by wind turbines started charging his cell phone without it being plugged in:

I’ve had my … mobile phone go into charge mode in the middle of the paddock, away from everywhere.

Turbine hosts at Waubra earn A$8,000 a year for each turbine on their land. Image from shutterstock.com

In 2012, he wrote a public submission to a parliamentary inquiry where he revealed he had suffered a serious head injury some eight years before the wind farm opened in 2010:

I have been in brain training care and rehabilitation for about ten years because of an unfortunate, unrelated accident.

Indeed, the most common health complaints voiced by complainants are problems such as disturbed sleep, anxiety, hypertension and normal problems of ageing that are very prevalent in all communities, regardless of whether they have wind farms.

In a 2012 Ontario legal case, complainants were asked to provide their medical records going back a decade before the local wind farm commenced operation. This would have provided relevant information about any pre-existing health problems. When they failed to so, their case failed.

In a peer-reviewed paper of mine to be published shortly, I conducted an historical audit of all known health and noise complaints made about Australia’s 51 wind farms from 1993 to 2012. Using four sources (wind company records, submissions made to three parliamentary enquiries, local media monitoring records and court affidavits) I calculated the number of complainants around Australia.

More than two-thirds of Australian wind farms including more than half of those with large turbines have never received a single complaint. Two whole states – Western Australia and Tasmania – have seen no complaints.

Of the 129 individuals across Australia who have ever complained, 94 (73%) are residents near just six wind farms which have been targeted by anti wind farm groups.

Almost all (98%) of complainants made their first complaint after 2009 when anti wind farm groups began to add health concerns to their wider opposition. In the preceding years, health or noise complaints were rare despite large and small-turbine wind farms having operated for many years.

In late 2012, anti-wind farm campaigners launched an anonymous website, Stop These Things. The apparently well-funded site specialises in emotive videos of wind farm victims, but in nine months has only run profiles of 18 mostly aged complainants. Barrett’s film profiles nearly that number of people telling a very different story.

Image from shutterstock.com

Anti-wind farm activists have promoted a bizarre and ever-growing number of health problems associated with turbine exposure. My favourite is the alarming problem of disoriented echidnas.

Among Laurie’s more interesting claims is that wind turbines cause lips to vibrate at up 10 kilometres, and that within 1km to 2km of wind turbines, air pressure changes occur “sufficient to knock them off their feet or bring some men to their knees when out working in their paddock” and “have been reported by farmers to perceptibly rock stationary cars”.

Laurie has repeatedly claimed that “a large number” or “over twenty families” and most recently “more than forty” families are “wind farm refugees” who have had to abandon their homes. But Laurie has declined requests to make her list public.

Another prominent activist George Papadopolous, claims to be able to sense a wind turbine at 100km away: from Sydney’s CBD to Lithgow, as the crow flies.

Barrett’s film brings a fresh and important perspective to a debate that has so far been dominated by a small number of complainants and those oxygenating their fears.

Fifteen years ago, Australian news media ran countless stories on community fears about mobile phone towers. Those still worrying about health risks from the towers are rare today. Wind turbine syndrome is likely to go the same way.

Simon Chapman AO receives no financial or other material support from any company or person in the wind energy industry or agents acting on their behalf.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

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Wind turbine syndrome: farm hosts tell very different story
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Robertson 8:43 am 30 Oct 13

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/5046460?WT.trc=Social%20Campaigns&WT.mc_id=Innovation_News-RadioNational-TheWorldToday|Hold%20The%20Phone%20Perth%20Girls%20School%20Bans%20Mobiles_FBP|abc

Wind farms are one of the few sources of impacts to birds and bats that are being systematically monitored. Most other forms of energy generation do not monitor impacts. Nor do we have widespread systematic monitoring of all the other human-related activities that we inflict on species—such as collisions with cars, powerlines, windows, poisoning, shooting, pollution, etc.

Unfortunately in the area of wind farms there is a lot of misinformation and myths, even when scientific evidence exists. Inaccurate information or myths do not progress understanding or, in fact, save species. In my view it only muddies the water, distracts focus and wastes time.

Avy 2:40 pm 24 Sep 13

breda said :

Robertson – I see that you’ve been called in to help.
You then go on to repeat the meme that anyone who disagrees with you is either deranged or in the pay of Big somethingorother.

You yourself called it “Big Wind” in post #33:

breda said :

Perhaps the pro-Big Wind sites need updating.

Why are you squandering your burden of proof? If we don’t believe you, it’s not our problem, it’s *yours*.

Spiral 10:23 am 24 Sep 13

watto23 said :

When it comes down to it, plonking a coal plant will upset a lot more people and will make the health of more people sick.

People who oppose Wind or Solar plants should be sent to live in the area around the Latrobe Valley.

Such wonderful memories as a kid.

Dirty brown coal power stations, huge open cut mines. The glow of the Logford gas plant flame at night and the steam from Loy Yang visible at day. At least it made it easy to navigate the flat featureless plains. Of course the pollution and radiation from the coal plants wasn’t great but on the plus side the cooling ponds meant you could swim in lovely warm water all year round even if they did create incredible fog in winter.

I hear Peter Jackson was going to use the Latrobe Valley for Mordor except it was too unpleasant and his orcs were scared to enter Moe.

People complaining about solar or wind plants seems a bit like someone who has stubbed their toe demanding a disabled parking space. They should go to the RSPCA to get a dose of concrete and harden up.

IrishPete 9:47 am 24 Sep 13

watto23 said :

However if the concerns are of financial in nature, well I can understand that, but even then i bet there would be plenty of people happy to live in some of the rural properties within 8kms of a wind farm. I know it wouldn’t be something that concerned me.

Indeed, I was recently told that land zoned Environmental in Eurobodalla could “not be sold at any price”. A triumph of hyperbole over fact – I’d love to buy some cheap land near the South Coast of NSW. And so would many tree- and sea- changers for whom the Environmental zoning would be a boon, because it means the next door blocks are less likely to be developed. So there may even be a positive effect on property prices, the real estate agents just need to target a different market. So too with windfarms – let the anti-environmentalists move to the Hunter to live in coal dust, and the rest of us can buy their properties at market value to farm on (exploding sheep and cows killed by plummeting dead parrots notwithstanding).

IP

watto23 10:09 pm 23 Sep 13

breda said :

” But Yass Landscape Guardians spokesman Mark Glover says 180 residents within eight kilometres of the turbines are unimpressed.

”I think most people just laughed at the suggestion, quite frankly. At the end of the day what do you want, to knock $5 off your electricity bill or to knock 30 per cent off the value of your home?”

Are you saying that these people are all deranged, or in the pay of Big (fill in the blank)?

It is precisely this kind of superiority complex that lost your lot the election. Keep it up, please. Every day, you alienate more average punters.

The issue is not all the problems outlined are caused by wind turbines, they are just a handy excuse. Those that are genuine complaints get lost amongst those on the bandwagon. And yes some of it is caused by oil/coal sympathetic people. There is no easy way of determining what is actually caused by the turbines, what is caused by people worrying about the turbines.

When it comes down to it, plonking a coal plant will upset a lot more people and will make the health of more people sick.
However if the concerns are of financial in nature, well I can understand that, but even then i bet there would be plenty of people happy to live in some of the rural properties within 8kms of a wind farm. I know it wouldn’t be something that concerned me.

IrishPete 8:01 pm 23 Sep 13

breda said :

”I think most people just laughed at the suggestion, quite frankly. At the end of the day what do you want, to knock $5 off your electricity bill or to knock 30 per cent off the value of your home?”

Are you saying that these people are all deranged, or in the pay of Big (fill in the blank)?
.

I think the $5 off your electricity bill quote speaks for itself – deranged, or at least deluded or deceived (by someone who is in the pay of Big Coal, even if they themselves aren’t).

IP

1967 2:03 pm 23 Sep 13

beardedclam said :

Russ said :

You can go and quote all the so called “scientific” studies all you like (most likely commissioned and paid for by Big Wind) but answer me this: why is it that all pictures of wind turbines *never* show the ground directly beneath the turbine? Every shot has the camera subtly tilted up for “some reason”. Even the feature pic in this post has used fog to obscure the feathered carnage.

hahahaha HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, because in this picture, if the fog wasnt there, you would be able to see what was sitting under the windmills. Mate, i put my money that if an elephant was riding a tricycle beneath the windmill holding a 20 foot neon sign saying “there are dead birds here”, you still wouldnt be able to see it.

As a former mole in the Green movement, I feel I can finally go public with an explanation of the dead bird issue.
We used to sneek about under the turbines at night, collecting the bird carcasses and would place them in barrels of un-refined oil.
This preserved the carcasses while they were in storage in an un-disclosed location near an international airport.
Then, the moment news broke of the latest Exxon Valdez / Deep Water Horizon oil spill, the birds were loaded onto a Stelth bomber and dumped over the nearest coast line where the local Greens operatives would “find” them the next morning and hold them up limply by one wing while, in tears, condemning the fossil fuel industry and advoocating “Green” power.

beardedclam 1:52 pm 23 Sep 13

breda said :

Robertson – I see that you’ve been called in to help.

You might start by looking at the video I posted on page 1 – sorry to remind you that before being parachuted into a debate from outside, you need to do your homework. You just parrotted something from a factsheet without bothering to find out what the question is.

You then go on to repeat the meme that anyone who disagrees with you is either deranged or in the pay of Big somethingorother.

Here’s the thing. People like the guy in the video and others who have been living happily in the country are saying that windfactories are making their lives worse.

Your response is to claim that they are nutters or being paid by some sinister organisation. Because shut up.

Mind if I set up a strobe light outside your living room? I’ll just do it intermittently, unpredictably, because that makes it OK.

Probably trespass…….

Robertson 12:46 pm 23 Sep 13

breda said :

Are you saying that these people are all deranged, or in the pay of Big (fill in the blank)?
.

Depends – do they have issues with exploding herds of goats, incontinence, and sleep deprivation caused by wind turbine sound travelling 100km?

If so, then, yes, they are either nutters or mischief-makers.

breda 12:19 pm 23 Sep 13

@ Robertson

“I think the issue of crank magnetism is well worth bringing up – there aren’t many people who share Breda’s irrational fear of wind turbines and don’t also adhere to the crank line of reasoning on fluoridation, homeopathy, vaccination, and the sending of children to anti-educational theosophist institutions.”
———————————————————————–
You really are scraping the bottom of the barrel here. For the record, I support fluoridation, despise homeopathy, support vaccination and am not quite sure what the last thing means.

Here is another bunch of freaks and nutters (according to you):

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/power-games-why-incentives-wont-sway-these-wind-farm-opponents-20130920-2u5r5.html

” But Yass Landscape Guardians spokesman Mark Glover says 180 residents within eight kilometres of the turbines are unimpressed.

”I think most people just laughed at the suggestion, quite frankly. At the end of the day what do you want, to knock $5 off your electricity bill or to knock 30 per cent off the value of your home?”

Are you saying that these people are all deranged, or in the pay of Big (fill in the blank)?

It is precisely this kind of superiority complex that lost your lot the election. Keep it up, please. Every day, you alienate more average punters.

Robertson 10:17 am 23 Sep 13

IrishPete said :

Robertson said :

breda said :

IP

What makes you think I’m a “she”? Do you have some inside information, or is it just that you assume it to be so?

Ah, yes, when losing an argument, throw in a big red herring.

Meanwhile, you haven’t answered whether you:
– send your children to Orana
– have had them vaccinated

to be fair, I think the first question is a bit personal, and could result in Breda or his/her children being identified. Especially if you go looking for a Dutch-sounding surname.

Second question is a bit less identifiable, but still a bit personal and I would defend Breda’s right to decline to answer it.

Let’s all remember to play the ball and not the wo/man.

IP

I think the issue of crank magnetism is well worth bringing up – there aren’t many people who share Breda’s irrational fear of wind turbines and don’t also adhere to the crank line of reasoning on fluoridation, homeopathy, vaccination, and the sending of children to anti-educational theosophist institutions.

Robertson 10:12 am 23 Sep 13

davo101 said :

IrishPete said :

breda said :

IP

What makes you think I’m a “she”? Do you have some inside information, or is it just that you assume it to be so?

Because it’s a female name? http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/0/Breda
Perhaps you didn’t know.

IP

I’m with IP here. I’d just been reading it as one of the many variants of Bridget.

It never occurred to me that it was anything but a reference to the town in the low countries.

IrishPete 9:43 am 23 Sep 13

Robertson said :

breda said :

IP

What makes you think I’m a “she”? Do you have some inside information, or is it just that you assume it to be so?

Ah, yes, when losing an argument, throw in a big red herring.

Meanwhile, you haven’t answered whether you:
– send your children to Orana
– have had them vaccinated

to be fair, I think the first question is a bit personal, and could result in Breda or his/her children being identified. Especially if you go looking for a Dutch-sounding surname.

Second question is a bit less identifiable, but still a bit personal and I would defend Breda’s right to decline to answer it.

Let’s all remember to play the ball and not the wo/man.

IP

Robertson 8:32 am 23 Sep 13

breda said :

IP

What makes you think I’m a “she”? Do you have some inside information, or is it just that you assume it to be so?

Ah, yes, when losing an argument, throw in a big red herring.

Meanwhile, you haven’t answered whether you:
– send your children to Orana
– have had them vaccinated

5

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