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Health concerns over impact of wind farms

A medical expert has called for a 10km exclusion zone between homes and new UK windfarms.

The “setback” zone plea is based on fears over the impact on health.

The call comes from Dr Sarah Laurie, medical director of the Waubra Foundation, an Australian body dedicated to researching the health effects of wind turbines close to human habitation.

She argues that the problems caused by prolonged exposure to noise and vibrations of the turbines are “real, serious and at times life-threatening”.

The Sunday Post has spoken to Scots families who live near windfarm sites who claim their health has been damaged by conditions including insomnia and stress.

Dr Laurie has advocated the precautionary setback zone in Australia following a recent Senate Committee recommendation into an independent study of the health effect of wind turbines.

But now the former GP says that until similar detailed research is conducted in the UK the 10km zones should be rolled out here too.

She revealed she knows of Australians affected by windfarms who have had a number of potentially life-threatening illnesses.

They include a condition caused by an adrenalin surge and leading to symptoms including severe headache and dangerously high blood pressure.

Dr Laurie explained: “There’s an urgent need for research at existing wind developments to determine what the “dose” of noise and vibration is that these people are exposed to and what their symptoms are before more turbines are built closer than 10km to homes.”

In Scotland there is currently a 2km guide for separation distance between windfarms and the edge of towns, cities and villages.

However, this is not a requirement and it is up to planning authorities to make a judgment.

Dr Laurie said: “Until local data is collected, I would certainly advocate this (10km) setback as a minimum.”

Dr Chris Hanning, a retired Consultant in Sleep Medicine, said Dr Laurie’s requirement for 10km would “certainly prevent any harm while further investigations are being carried out”.

He added: “The health impacts of wind farms are serious. I have no doubt that many people have suffered serious adverse effects.

“The Japanese government has implemented a four-year programme of research into the health effects of wind turbine noise.

“Pressure should be placed on the UK governments to do likewise, and in the meantime enact a moratorium on on-shore wind farm construction.”

Struan Stevenson MEP said: “The constant noise, vibration and flicker-effect have caused extreme stress, nausea, migraine and panic attacks in people living within a 10 km zone.

“I am convinced that having a 10 km exclusion zone is correct.”

A spokeswoman for Scottish Renewables said: “All wind farms in Scotland have to comply with strict guidance on noise.

“We are aware of no peer-reviewed research showing any impact on health from wind turbines in the UK.”

A spokeswoman for The Scottish Government said: “There is no evidence of health effects arising from windfarms and Dr Laurie’s examples relate to other countries.

“Applications that do not meet strict criteria are rejected. Our planning guidance for local authorities makes clear that developments must be carefully sited to mitigate and minimise impacts on the environment or local amenity.”