Noise from a wind turbine next to Whitemoor Prison – which the Home Office warned posed an “unacceptable risk” to psychologically disturbed prisoners – may have contributed to five suicides in the past year.
This claim was made by anti wind turbine protestor and retired planning officer Trevor Watson who fought the original turbine plan six years ago.
He has written to the governor of the March prison, Steven Rodford, and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith calling for a recently-appointed investigation team probing the suicides to look at possible links with the turbine.
Mr Watson quoted from the original Home Office opposition to the 67-metre wind turbine which claimed psychological damage could be caused by noise and sub-audible electromagnetic interference which could cause depression and even physical injury.
At the time Alan Devlin, a Home Office civil servant, claimed the “risk is unacceptable for a captive audience, some with psychological problems, that is unable to leave the area”.
Mr Watson now wants the Home Office and David Watson, the professor of criminology from Birmingham heading up the suicide investigation, to re-open the files on the wind turbine built just 200 metres from the prison which houses 450 inmates.
Mr Watson said: “Whitemoor is, effectively, a village and there’s no way had it been a normal village would you have allowed it to be built there. I know there are criminals housed there, but they have rights too. I live 10 times further away from the turbine than the prisoners but I can hear the whoosh, whoosh, thumping of the turbine at nights and it annoys me.
“It seems to me there is the possibility of this being a sort of drip-drip- drip torture. I’m not saying the turbines have caused the problems but I think it is a serious area and worth exploring.”
In his letter to the governor, Mr Watson said the noise from the turbines “must be particularly disturbing both to your staff and particularly the inmates of the prison, some of who may be suffering mental disorders who have to live in a confined environment”.
He said there were many reported cases across the country of people suffering health related problems caused by turbine blade noises “and in confined spaces, such as prisons, additional noise from these turbines blades could be a real problem”.
1 February 2008
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