In haste to find sustainable energy we have missed crucial factors casting long shadows over land based wind farms. World wide, no one knows the potential impact of their mechanical, non-acoustic machinery vibrations on crucial tiny things lying at very base of the universal food chain.
Such vibrations are often transmitted large distances and may well adversely impact peat and soil; invertebrates; arthropods; fungi; bio-aerosols only seen under high magnification; even individual living cells. Soil may lose fertility; peat disintegrate, collapse, rot, and flow down waterways bringing potential problems to land owners, whiskey distillers, water, tourism and other major industries, along with major problems for local authorities – as a 2003 case in Ireland showed. Peat degradation is already visible on many wind farms.
Snails and other arthropods have vibration receptors along the entire body surface. Snakes, spiders, earth and slow worms, flies, ticks, mites, these and many more tiny creatures depend on vibrations to live and function, and significant change could devastate them.
We know these vibrations exist. The M.O.D. was so concerned about Eskdalemuir wind farm interfering with equipment monitoring Comprehensive (nuclear) Test Ban Treaty compliance an 80Km exclusion zone was declared round their underground monitoring facility until the Applied and Environmental Geophysics Research Group measured and found them unlikely to interfere with that work.
However the British Energy Technology Support Unit say they can’t be predicted in advance and ‘basic understanding is low’. In America too Oregon University’s Prof. Robert Schofield’s seismic measurements at the LIGO Stateline Wind Project produced worrying evidence and a high degree of uncertainty showing not enough is known to produce detailed prediction methods.
In 2003 at Derrybrien in County Galway, Ireland, vibrations caused half a kilometer of peat bog to slide into the Abhainn Da Loilioch river and two weeks later sludge pouring down killed 50,000 fish and affected 50,000 more.
So wind farms may not be as friendly as many claim they are. Facing this significant lack of knowledge I have e-petitioned the Prime Minister and Scottish Parliament to ensure appropriate research is commissioned as a matter of urgency, and am seeking a Peer and MP to help me Petition the Lords, Commons, and U.N.
The big picture should not be allowed to obscure the little one and we know ‘The devil lies in the detail’. Focussed on the horizon it may well be what’s right under our nose will undermine our sustainable energy plans.
Dixie Dean (Prof. Em.)
BSc, MIET, MBA, BIM, FRSA
Hon. Lect., European Ctre. for Prof. Ethics
9th October 2007
23 Queen’s Own Place
See also: “
Wind Turbine Mechanical Vibrations: Potential Environmental Threat”, Energy & Environment, Volume 19, Number 2, March 2008. doi: 10.1260/095830508783900771
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