Resource Documents: Health (432 items)
Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.
Author: Mitchell, Peter
Many people have had their lives adversely impacted by the deployment of wind turbines in their district. Many more will become impacted by permitted but yet to be built wind projects. Often the impacts are of a magnitude that justify compensation in various forms.
This document has been prepared as a general guide to help identify the elements and possible magnitude of claims against the owner and/or the operator of a wind turbine project. The author is not a lawyer and takes no responsibility whatsoever for any use of any of the numbers herein which are merely presented for orientation purposes.
Any person who wishes to make a claim needs to consider their own circumstances and to obtain legal advice and assistance in making a claim.
The Purpose of This Document
This document is intended to give some guidance to those neighbours of wind turbine projects (WTPs) seeking relief on the construction of a financial claim for damages.
It also answers some questions about making a claim, but does not instruct how the claim might be supported, i.e., the detail that needs to be documented to support an impacted person’s claim. That will require the help of an informed lawyer.
Note that this document has been written based mainly upon the Australian context but it is felt that it may be a useful starting point in other jurisdictions.
Cause of Damage
Wind turbines emit airborne (sound) and ground-borne (vibration) pressure waves. Much is known about sound waves (the audible portion of which is identified as noise). and their ability to harm and disturb neighbours up to 10 to 12 km from turbines. It is also known that vibration can also be a factor in disturbance, but at this point, it is low frequency sound and ultra-low frequency sound (infrasound) particularly where amplitude modulation is present that is understood to cause most damage.
Useful data for supporting a claim can be accessed from the extensive Waubra Foundation website (www.waubrafoundation.org.au/), e.g. under the tab Resources see Health and Legal; Friends Against Wind (www.friends-against-wind.org/) using the Justice tab; National Wind Watch (https://www.wind-watch.org) search for Litigation; and Stop These Things (https://stopthesethings.com) search for Litigation.
Form of Damage
The airborne pressure pulses which emanate from wind turbines cause physiological and psychological damage to individuals in different ways and at different intensities.
In time the body can become increasingly sensitised and ultimately permanently damaged. Homes become uninhabitable and very difficult to sell. People become trapped in unsafe locations.
A second form of damage is productivity of farm animals and the possibility that farm strategies and processes have to be changed.
However the principal matters of damage are family health and well-being, the habitability of the family residence and the safety of any associated workplace.
Constructing a Financial Claim
Here are the components of a claim and some indicative numbers.
- The major element is the sale of your house to the Wind Turbine Project (WTP) owner and/or operator as applicable. The price asked should not be a present valuation, i.e., with turbines in place; but the price that the property would be worth today if there was no WTP in the area. This will involve briefing a first class valuer.
- There should be an add-on for the disturbance of having to move, which might be a 10% to 20% addition to the property price.
- There should be a refund of all the property replacement expenses such as stamp duty, legal documentation and conveyancing, and direct moving expenses.
- Compensation for the damage and hurt caused by living in a dangerous and harmful environment for the period since the project was commissioned. It is suggested this compensation should be calculated by multiplying the number of persons living in the house by the number of years the damage has been endured by a dollar sum per person per year.
This dollar sum will depend on the severity of disturbance which generally will correlate with the separation between the house and the nearest turbines, and speculation on what courts might award then discounted for the risk and expense of going to court.
Here Is a Suggested Scale for Assessing Damage or Nuisance
|Forced to evacuate the home||$150,000 to $200,000|
|Forced to live away as much as possible||$100,000 to $150,000|
|Major discomfort||$50,000 to $100,000|
If you wish to make a claim then consider where your family fits in the above categories, and be sensible in that rating. Again take your lawyer’s advice.
Should You Engage a Lawyer?
Yes. A lawyer is required to draft your claim and to be present and lead discussions with the representative of the WTP owner and/or developer. (In the Australian context, discussions may initially involve the National Wind Farm Commissioner).
Should You Join with Others Affected by the Same Wind Project?
Yes, if you consider they are willing to pay their share of costs, will be rational, particularly not wanting to rank their claims at a higher level than is reasonable, and will act in concert with the group. The group arrangements should be drafted by a lawyer so that there is the best possible protection against the WTP owner trying to break up the group with side deals.
Combining with others will, of course, reduce the cost of hiring a lawyer to draft and present your claim and also to draft some agreement on group arrangements.
Beware of Inappropriate Confidentiality Agreements
In settling problems in the past the industry has used “gag “clauses in some largely property based settlements and those gag clauses effectively stopped people who had sold properties from saying just about anything.
However it is reasonable for owners/operators to require that financial terms offered or agreed not be disclosed. Equally you may be disclosing personal and health information that you may want to keep confidential. These objectives should be able to be achieved by a specific agreement.
What About Court Action?
It is in the interests of both parties to negotiate a settlement.
Court actions are expensive and there is a risk of losing and having to meet in some jurisdictions not only your own costs, but those of the other side.
On the other side there is much evidence that would be exposed in a court action by a skilled barrister that could be hugely damaging to the wind company and indeed the whole industry.
Thus it is better to see if a reasonable settlement can be reached and if it cannot, you will need to consider further options with your lawyers.
Prepared by: Peter R. Mitchell
3 May, 2017
Download original document: “Seeking Damages from Wind Energy Project Owners/Operators”
Author: Vermont Department of Health
Summary. Since 1997, 67 utility scale wind turbines with 149 megawatts of capacity have been installed at five locations in Vermont: Searsburg, Deerfield, Georgia, Lowell, and Sheffield. The Vermont Department of Health reviewed recent scientific publications to better understand whether wind turbine noise poses a risk to public health. The Department’s findings are summarized below.
- At noise levels studied, there was no evidence of a direct effect of wind turbine noise on any of the health outcomes considered.
- As wind turbine noise levels increase, the proportion of community members reporting that they are highly annoyed by the wind turbine noise also increases.
- Although wind turbine noise itself was not associated with any direct health effect, annoyance attributed to wind turbine noise by respondents was associated with migraines, dizziness, tinnitus, chronic pain, hair cortisol concentrations (an indicator of stress), blood pressure, and self-reported sleep quality.
- Efforts to minimize annoyance should address both noise and non-noise related factors. In order to minimize annoyance attributed to noise, an annual limit of 35 dBA coupled with community engagement could be considered. Community engagement could help to address prior attitudes toward wind turbine development, identify vulnerable populations and address concerns about visual annoyance (for example blinking aircraft warning lights), physical safety, and equitable distribution of economic benefits.
Download original document: “Wind Turbine Noise & Human Health: A Review of the Scientific Literature”
Author: Evans, Alun
Environmental noise pollution is an ever-increasing problem. The various sources: Aircraft, Road Traffic and Wind Farms are reviewed, but the latter source, because of the intrusive, impulsive and incessant nature of the sound emitted, is the major focus of this review. Wind turbines produce a range of sound but it is the Infrasound and low frequency noise which deserves special attention. Infrasound is considered to be below the range of human hearing so it is not measured in routine noise assessments in the wind farm planning process. There is, however, evidence that many can register it and a sizeable minority is sensitive, or becomes sensitised to it. The actual route of transmission still requires elucidation. The net effect of the entire range of noise produced is interference with sleep and sleep deprivation. Sleep, far from being a luxury is vitally important to health and insufficient sleep, in the long term, is associated with a spectrum of diseases, particularly Cardiovascular. The physiological benefits of sleep are reviewed, as is the range of diseases which the sleep-deprived are predisposed to. Governments, anxious to meet Green targets and often receiving most of their advice on health matters from the wind industry, must commission independent studies so that the Health and Human Rights of their rural citizens is not infringed. Public Health, in particular, must remember its roots in Utilitarianism which condoned the acceptance of some Collateral Damage provided that the greatest happiness of the greatest number was ensured. The degree of Collateral Damage caused by wind farms should be totally unacceptable to Public Health which must, like good government, fully exercise the Precautionary Principle. The types of study which should be considered are discussed. Indeed, the father of Utilitarian Philosophy, Jeremy Bentham, urged that government policy should be fully evaluated.
Alun Evans, Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK
Open Journal of Social Sciences 2017;5:80-109. doi: 10.4236/jss.2017.55007.
Author: Tran Ba Huy, Patrice; and French Academy of Medicine
“[L]e caractère intermittent, aléatoire, imprévisible, envahissant du bruit généré par la rotation des pales, survenant lorsque le vent se lève, variant avec son intensité, interdisant toute habituation, peut indubitablement perturber l’état psychologique de ceux qui y sont exposés. Ce sont notamment les modulations d’amplitudes causées par le passage des pales devant le mât qui sont dénoncées comme particulièrement dérangeantes. [The intermittent, random, unpredictable, invasive character of the noise generated by the rotation of the blades, arising when the wind rises and varying along with its intensity, preventing habituation, can undoubtedly disturb the psychological state of those who are exposed to it. These include amplitude modulation caused by the passage of the blades in front of the mast, which is noted as particularly disturbing.]
“[L]e groupe de travail recommande: … de revenir pour ce qui concerne leur bruit (et tout en laissant les éoliennes sous le régime des Installations Classées pour le Protection de l’Environnement) au décret du 31 août 2006 relatif à la lutte contre les bruits du voisinage (relevant du code de Santé publique et non de celui de l’Environnement), ramenant le seuil de déclenchement des mesures d’émergence à 30 dB A à l’extérieur des habitations et à 25 à l’intérieur.” [The working group recommends returning to the decree of 31 August 2006 concerning the fight against neighborhood noise, reducing the the threshold for emergency measures to [ambient levels] 30 dBA outside residences and 25 dBA inside [limiting wind turbine noise to +5 dBA in daytime (7am–10pm) and +3 dBA at night (10pm–7am)].]
L’extension programmée de la filière éolienne terrestre soulève un nombre croissant de plaintes de la part d’associations de riverains faisant état de troubles fonctionnels réalisant ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler le « syndrome de l’éolienne ». Le but de ce rapport était d’en analyser l’impact sanitaire réel et de proposer des recommandations susceptibles d’en diminuer la portée éventuelle.
Si l’éolien terrestre ne semble pas induire directement des pathologies organiques,il affecte au travers de ses nuisances sonores et surtout visuelles la qualité de vie d’une partie des riverains et donc leur « état de complet bien-être physique, mental et social » lequel définit aujourd’hui le concept de santé.
Dans le double souci d’améliorer l’acceptation du fait éolien et d’atténuer son retentissement sanitaire, direct ou indirect, le groupe de travail recommande :
- de s’assurer que lors de la procédure d’autorisation l’enquête publique soit conduite avec le souci d’informer pleinement les populations riveraines, de faciliter la concertation entre elles et les exploitants, et de faciliter la saisine du préfet par les plaignants,
- de n’autoriser l’implantation de nouvelles éoliennes que dans des zones ayant fait l’objet d’un consensus de la population concernée quant à leur impact visuel, sachant que l’augmentation de leur taille et leur extension programmée risquent d’altérer durablement le paysage du pays et de susciter de la part de la population riveraine – et générale – opposition et ressentiment avec leurs conséquences psychiques et somatiques,
- de systématiser les contrôles de conformité acoustique dont la périodicité doit être précisée dans tous les arrêtés d’autorisation et non au cas par cas,
- d’encourager les innovations technologiques susceptibles de restreindre et de « brider » en temps réel le bruit émis par les éoliennes et d’en équiper les éoliennes les plus anciennes,
- de ramener le seuil de déclenchement des mesures d’émergence à 30 dBA à l’extérieur des habitations et à 25 à l’intérieur, (tout en laissant les éoliennes sous le régime des Installations Classées pour le Protection de l’Environnement),
- d’entreprendre, comme recommandé dans le précédent rapport, une étude épidémiologique prospective sur les nuisances sanitaires.
May 9, 2017
Patrice Tran Ba Huy, Membre de l’Académie de Médecine
Download original document: “Nuisances Sanitaires des Éoliennes Terrestres”
See also: “Le retentissement du fonctionnement des éoliennes sur la santé de l’homme” (Académie Nationale de Médecine, 2006)