When I was on the Whiteside County Board in the late 1980s, and a questionable industry wanted to settle in the east end of the county, I had to spend hours in an Iowa library ferreting out information on the industry’s downside. The Internet has changed all that. Today, the ability to gather information on which to make a reasoned decision has never been easier.
Physicians around the world are weighing in on the adverse health effects of wind farms. Some are calling for an outright moratorium on new sitings, or a 6-mile setback from homes, until independent epidemiological studies can determine the safe distance for setbacks. The clinical information on adverse effects from both audible noise and infrasound (low frequency sound, inaudible to the human ear but affecting the brain) from wind turbines is becoming voluminous.
Indeed, 50 years of quantitative evidence exists for stress-related disease caused by other kinds of noise, according to Dr. Daniel Shepard, a psychoacoustics expert from New Zealand, who, just weeks ago, reported that there may be good reason to believe that turbine noise is more dangerous than other forms, like traffic and aviation.
Nowhere do I find independent health experts who recommend a setback as meager as the 1,400 feet in our county’s ordinance. Most settle on a distance of about 1.5 miles from property lines or homes.
In a recent Gazette article, an attorney from Rockford made an excellent point. He said greater setbacks could be waived by neighboring property owners in negotiations with the developer, so they need not be seen as a ban on the industry.
Attorney Porter’s other recommendations of performance bonds and property value protection plans should also be adopted by our county, as should a ban on “gag” clauses.
Lead, don’t follow.
Pennie von Bergen Wessels, Rock Falls