TO: Michael Spence BA LLB Sydney DPhil PcDipTheol Oxf
Vice Chancellor and Principle, University of Sydney
I am once again writing to you in relation to Professor Simon Chapman’s active and well publicised close involvement with the Industrial Wind Industry in Australia, and the increasingly adverse effect this association is having on the University of Sydney’s reputation for quality research and ethical behaviour.
It appears possible Professor Chapman is conducting research without prior ethics committee approval from the Human Research Ethics Committee at the University, with regard to seeking specific details of families who were forced to abandon their homes as a result of noise pollution emanating from Industrial Wind Turbines.
[update: The Sydney University Ethics Committee has clarified that no approval was required, as the ‘research’ entailed only asking people to corroborate already public statements.]
I would be interested to know, will the university be addressing this ethical approval oversight? Alternatively if approval has been granted could you please forward to me the date and details of that approval?
Further, I bring to your attention the participation of Professor Chapman in the launch of a wind turbine product manufacturer’s global denial of the harm their product is causing, on 18 June 2013, which VESTAS called their “ACT on FACTS” campaign, in Melbourne. Professor Chapman was listed as a Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney.
ln 2004 a VESTAS employee called Erik Sloth delivered a presentation to the Australian Wind Energy Association’s conference. lt showed VESTAS were aware in 2OO4 that the international standards for wind turbine noise emission modeling were inadequate, that “annoyance” symptoms could result from a less than safe buffer distance, and that further research was needed.
The World Health Organisation acknowledges “annoyance” symptoms can result in adverse health effects. Environmental noise pollution is increasingly acknowledged as a growing and serious public health problem, and there are increasing reports of rural residents being forced out of their homes or living a life of chronic sleep deprivation when the turbines are operating.
As yet, there is no research involving the concurrent measurement of the full spectrum of acoustic frequencies, and EEG, blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels in people reporting adverse health impacts from wind turbine noise specifically, although adverse health effects including the consequences of chronic sleep deprivation and chronic physiological stress have been found from other sources of noise. Yet Professor Chapman, Public Health Professor and Director of Research at the University of Sydney is now publicly stating ‘research is not necessary’, even though he stated at the Federal Senate inquiry in 2011, it was a ‘wonderful idea’, and VESTAS stated it was needed in 2004.
I would request you read the critiques of Professor Chapman’s paper by knowledgeable experts in the fields of medicine, acoustics, and audiology and in the analysis of his research for court evidence. As you will find, there are serious concerns about his research and the conclusions drawn by him and his co researchers.
Professor Chapman’s ‘diagnosis’ of a nocebo effect was made without any evidence collected from the homes of people reporting symptoms. He has never spoken to or visited these people, and of course he has no training to examine or diagnose medical conditions nor is he a psychiatrist trained to diagnose illnesses of the mind. At the very least he can only make a guess at what he thinks could be the situation, but for him to use his position at the university as an expert in these health matters is inappropriate and a snub to the importance and role of appropriately trained professionals in acoustics, neurophysiology, and clinical medicine.
As a Sociologist working in the area of Public Health he can only make theory judgements on social groups and not medical diagnosis on individuals. There is no evidence from those residents reporting the symptoms or from their treating health professionals that the nocebo diagnosis is valid.
While Professor Chapman worked to highlight the adverse health effects of tobacco and cigarettes by exposing the denial by tobacco companies and their supporters, he is now using his reputation to hinder the work of those trying to expose the truth about Industrial Wind Turbines and adverse health effects. He does this by writing papers, speaking publicly and attending functions in support of the global wind industry.
I ask that you read the decision of Justice Muse from Falmouth, USA, from late 2013 where he granted an immediate injunction to stop wind turbines turning at night, in order to prevent ‘irreparable harm to physical and psychological health’ of the residents reporting problems.
I would also recommend you read carefully American Psychiatrist Dr William Hallstein’s letter to the Falmouth Board of Health, which clearly explains what wind turbine noise is doing to people.
While Professor Chapman continues to deny the existence of research showing people are suffering, in an effort to uphold his personal theory it’s not difficult to find such research, articles and papers, if you choose to look for them.
For instance early research well before any publicity about the symptoms was conducted by Dr David Iser, a rural GP from Toora in Victoria and he raised concerns with the Victorian government about the effects of wind turbine noise. There is also Dr Amanda Harry, a rural GP in the UK, both of whom behaved in the best traditions of ethical practice of medicine, and research.
I urge you to read the work of the above to understand how harmful reliance on utterances from unqualified people can be, especially with respect to health issues, even if they are university Professors.
In addition I ask you consider what breaches of human rights may be occurring to residents who are being ignored by their governments who are charged with the responsibility of protecting them from known harm. Surely these vulnerable citizens deserve to be treated as every other citizen, with respect and consideration of their predicament which they have no control over, in the expectation their rights to live and work without the imposition of annoyance causing them harm being thrust upon them.
If the University does not want to be seen to be actively supporting an industry which is proven to be less than honest with respect to what they know and who have acknowledged the human adverse effects of their industry, then I would urge you to speak out and request Professor Chapman to publicly state that what he is expressing is his personal opinion and not that of the University, especially when he is saying that research is not necessary.
There is an impression the University could be seen to be unreservedly supporting the Industrial Wind Industry. I urge you to consider how the conflict of interest issues of some of the Fellows on the University Senate are handled, as public perception with regard to integrity of the governance of the University is at stake.
Finally I ask, does the University wish to be implicated in continuing to support an industry who are hiding known evidence of harm (see also Matt Peacock’s book “Killer Company” re the role the University of Sydney played in the asbestos story), or would the University prefer to act in the finest traditions of higher education establishments, and actively and vocally support the required multidisciplinary independent research recommended by the 2011 Australian Federal Senate inquiry.
J A Rovensky (Mrs)
PORT MacDONNELL, SA
7 Feb 2014