Ltr to Chief Commissioner, Climate Commission, Tim Flannery

Chief Climate Commissioner
Professor Tim Flannery
Climate Commission

30th March, 2013

Dear Professor Flannery,

I have been made aware of your remarks at a Nurses Forum in Melbourne recently, in response to a question a local nurse from Daylesford asked you about the adverse health effects of wind turbines. I was concerned at your response, relayed to me by a journalist present at that meeting, which demonstrated your lack of knowledge and an apparent lack of concern or interest in the true impacts of these developments. Perhaps you think these people are just “collateral damage” or “policy roadkill” as others promoting wind energy have openly stated?

This letter is to share information and encourage you to become much better informed.

In your position as Chief Climate Commissioner, and as a former Australian of the Year, you are in a position of to educate yourself and then others about these issues, and I hope you will choose to do so immediately. I am more than happy to introduce you to some of these sick residents, and you can determine for yourself whether stress, envy, jealousy or scaremongering are responsible for the symptoms they describe, which are affecting those such as babies, future wind turbine hosts who live 8km away from the nearest wind turbine, a former wind turbine construction worker at Cape Bridgewater who has subsequently been driven out of his family home, and a myriad of others. Their doctors and psychologists do not agree with Professor Chapman’s assertions, and are on occasions privately suggesting that these residents should leave their homes, such is the damage to their health.

I have personal knowledge of the circumstances of a number of the neighbours to Hepburn Wind, who have shared their symptoms and stories with me. Already a number of them have left their home, including one of the local doctors, because of sleep deprivation and other worsening symptoms. The physical and mental health of others who remain is being damaged, and is predictably deteriorating. Why are experienced clinicians, such as this nurse who spoke out at the meeting yesterday, being ignored? Your response to her question indicates that you have some awareness of the issues, and of the recent research by Professor Chapman, however your sources would appear extremely limited, and somewhat biased. A more objective look at the evidence would appear to be timely.

This same pattern of symptoms which occur with exposure to operating wind turbines is being reported around the world by neighbouring residents, and there are an increasing number of health and acoustics professionals publicly expressing their concerns. I have attached a relatively recent list of these professionals for your information. As you will see, there are now over seventy professionals, from a range of disciplines.

I urge you to read my attached statement to the recent Cherry Tree case in Victoria, and the accompanying literature review recently conducted by two public health doctors from Ontario. There is a significant body of peer reviewed published evidence that both sleep deprivation and stress (physiological and/or psychological) is damaging for health, and this is precisely what is happening to people living near wind turbines, and is being reported by them and an increasing number of their health care providers. It is not just “a little bit of stress”. It is recurrent physiological stress, which is compounding the damaging effects of the recurrent sleep deprivation

The Waubra Foundation also assists those impacted by industrial low frequency noise from gas fired power stations, coal seam gas field compressors and coal mining.

The source of the noise is irrelevant to those who suffer the ill effects, and who cannot sleep, or who endure the repetitive physiological stress which exposure to low frequency noise is known to induce. This is in addition to the symptoms, which have become known as “wind turbine syndrome” amongst those unfortunate enough to develop them.

The wind industry, and you as Australia’s Chief Climate Commissioner, cannot continue to ignore this issue, or deny the problems any longer, and nor can the acoustics profession. I close with the remarks of the four acoustic firms, including those who work predominantly for wind developers, in their report for the Shirley Wind Project Acoustic Survey in December 2012. Dr Paul Schomer’s remarks carry considerable weight, as he is the current Director of Acoustic standards, for the Acoustical Society of America. His subsequent letter is also in the list of attachments.

The four acoustics firms concluded the following:

The four investigating firms are of the opinion that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry. It should be addressed beyond the present practice of showing that wind turbine levels are magnitudes below the threshold of hearing at low frequencies.”

I hope that from now on, you use your position and public influence responsibly, to help ensure that the research the Australian Federal Senate recommended in June 2011 is conducted, urgently. Your strong public support for the South Australian EPA’s full spectrum acoustic monitoring at Waterloo, due to start on 8th April 2013, would be a good start, to help resolve this serious and growing public health problem, which is not going to go away.

Regardless of biased reports produced by government instrumentalities such as the CSIRO’s report by Dr Nina Hall, the wind industry’s actual “social licence to operate” is now almost non existent in numerous rural areas across Australia, especially those where rural families have had to abandon their homes. Country residents are now much better informed, and increasingly angry and determined to protect their families from the known, health damaging, unregulated low frequency acoustic pollution these large industrial wind turbines emit.

Please have a look at the following links, and you will start to better understand what the unintended consequences have been, when wind turbines are sited unsafely. What if they were members of your family, Professor Flannery?

Yours sincerely
Sarah Laurie
CEO, Waubra Foundation

Download the Waubra Foundation letter→  Download an article about Prof Flannery in The Australia:

Documents sent with the letter to Professor Flannery are listed below

Read the EPAW List of Concerned Health Practitioners, Researchers & Acousticians who have voiced their concerns for the health of wind turbine neighbours

Read the Waubra Foundation’s CEO’s statement to the Cherry Tree Wind Farm hearing at the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal

Read Dr Paul Schomer’s letter to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin considering the application of Highland Wind Farm, with reference to the Shirley Wind Farm study

View the results of a Literature Review 2013: Association Between Wind Turbine Noise and Human Distress, by Drs Ian Arra and Hazel Lynn