Physician requests wind farm moratorium. Rebuffed by wind developer (Australia)

Nov 15, 2010

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“Doctor calls for halt to Leonards Hill wind farm development”

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—Rachel Afflick, The Advocate (11/10/10)

A South Australian doctor who believes wind farms are making people ill says building works on the Leonards Hill wind farm should be halted until independent medical research is conducted.

Dr Sarah Laurie, medical director of the newly formed Waubra Foundation, has forwarded to executives of Hepburn Wind a letter she wrote to Premier John Brumby, in which she says she’s shocked at the extent and severity of symptoms in patients she has encountered with “wind farm sickness.”

In the letter she also calls for a 10 kilometre buffer distance between wind farms and houses.

Dr Laurie said she had forwarded the letter to Hepburn Wind chairman Simon Holmes, and Court and executive officer Jack Guilding, to inform them of the health risks that may be associated with the Leonards Hill turbines.

“If I were living right there (Leonards Hill) I would be very concerned,” she told The Advocate.

“I would be beside myself, now I know what I know.”

“I believe they’re trying to do the right thing and save the planet, but if they’re not well informed about what the health risks are they’re potentially making people very sick.”

Dr Laurie said she became interested in the issue when she learnt of a wind farm development that was planned near her home in country South Australia.

She spent two weeks interviewing residents at Waubra and other wind farm locations.

In her letter to Mr Brumby, Dr Laurie said she had listened to the stories of people who claimed their health had been adversely affected since the turbines in their area started operating.

“I was shocked at the extent and severity of symptoms which have been experienced by some individuals which appear to be related to the turbines when they are operating,” she said.

“Some patients experience symptoms when they are five kilometres away from the nearest turbines.”

Dr Laurie said five people she tested had a clinical history consistent with a serious condition known as an acute hypertensive crisis.

Symptoms included a sudden acute severe headache, nausea, a sensation of “their heart leaping out of their chest,” and they feel extremely unwell.

“This pattern of symptoms is associated with a dangerously high blood pressure, and warrants immediate medical attention,” Dr Laurie said.

Construction on the Leonards Hill wind farm, Australia’s first community-owned wind farm, will formally commence in coming weeks, with the site currently being prepared for the laying of foundations.

Hepburn Wind director Vicki Horrigan said Hepburn Wind would not halt the construction based on Dr Laurie’s claims.

“There have been a myriad of studies that support there are no adverse effects on wind farms,” she said.

“She (Dr Laurie) acknowledged they were only very small numbers of patients she was talking about.”

“It’s certainly contrary to any evidence that’s there.”

“If there are going to be further studies they need to be done by qualified scientists.”

Ms Horrigan said overwhelmingly, the community supported the turbines at Leonards Hill.

“We’re very confident the wind farm at Leonards Hill will not pose any health risk,” she said.

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