“Wake Up, Shetland Islands!” (Scotland)

Oct 20, 2010


—Evelyn Morrison, The Shetland Times (10/13/10)

It is now over a week since I asked Viking Energy where I could read the Health Impact Assessment for the windfarm project and since no-one has got back to me I have done my own research. Members of the public will, I am sure, be very interested in my findings.

Dr Nina Pierpont, a leading New York paediatrician, has been studying the effects of living near wind turbines in the US, the UK, Italy, Ireland and Canada for the past five years. She has concluded that there are susceptible people who are at risk of developing heart disease, tinnitus, vertigo, panic attacks, migraine and sleep deprivation. Dr Pierpont has called this Wind Turbine Syndrome – the results of abnormal stimulation of the inner ear’s vestibular system. There is also the problem of vibro acoustic disorder which can cause changes to the structure of certain organs such as the heart and lungs. Flicker and strobe effect caused by light thrown off the blades will have a significantly powerful effect on anyone suffering from migraine or epilepsy.

In the UK, unlike Denmark, Germany and France, there are no controls over the potential health risk but at the beginning of this year the NHS called for studies regarding exposure to wind turbines as more research is needed. Japan has recently launched a four-year epidemiological study into Wind Turbine Disease.

In Viking Energy’s addendum under the heading “other” there is an article entitled “Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects – an Expert Panel Review”. This is a wind industry paid panel – otherwise known as “yes men” – so whether it is an independent report has to be questionable. This health study is only a literature review and the panel of experts have never interviewed anyone who is presently suffering from the effects of living near wind turbines. However, three doctors from England, Canada and New Zealand have all recorded a common set of ill health effects among people living close to industrial scale turbines. In these cases the inhabitants’ symptoms began when the turbines started to turn and were only relieved when the sufferers left the area.

The Expert Panel review listed in Viking Energy’s addendum was prepared for the American and Canadian Wind Energy Associations. One of those experts is currently being investigated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons Investigations Committee concering his close ties and involvement with the wind industry. The CPSIC raised concerns that this doctor’s expertise is in a field totally unreated to audiology.

Another doctor on the Expert Panel is not a physician but an acoustics consultant who also hires himself out to wind energy companies as a “noise consultant”. Curiously this same person, who is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Institute of Acoustics, is also quoted in the 2004 Politicians Plan for Wales as saying “low frequency noise causes extreme distress to people who are sensitive to its effects”. This same consultant in a 2002 report (recorded in the Wind Turbine Sound and Health Report) states “symptoms after a number of years exposure – distraction, dizziness, eye strain, fatigue, feeling vibration, headache, insomnia, muscle spasm, nausea, nose bleeds, palpitations, pressure in ears or head, skin burns, stress and tension”.

Oddly, the panel in the report concluded that the sound was merely “annoying” and there was “no evidence that audible or subaudible sound emitted by wind turbines have any adverse physiological effects”. So by 2009, when this review was undertaken, one of the “experts” seems to have changed his tune. I would like to think it was nothing to do with him now being employed by the windfarm industry.

I could go on at length as the information against having industrial windfarms close to habitation is overwhelming. However, I feel that these very important issues are only just coming to light. The wind industry is exactly that – an industry. Like the massive tobacco and pharmaceutical companies they are concerned with making money and disregard any adverse consequences. After what I have discovered it is hardly surprising Viking Energy has not produced a Health Impact Assessment – or if it has where is it Mr Manson?

People in Shetland have to wake up to what will happen if the Viking Energy project goes ahead. Please submit your objections to the windfarm project by writing to The Scottish Government Energy Consents Unit by the closing date of 19th November.

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