Introduction of concern
We are very aware of and proactive regarding the topic of adverse health effects and wind turbines in Australia. We have previously forwarded a submission to the Senate Estimates Committee on the Renewable Energy Amendment Bill 2012 that expressed our views and concerns about adverse wind farm health impacts.
The Monks of the Monaro
I write to the NHMRC here as a priest and a very concerned pastor of the Orthodox Church. I am a monk and leader of the monastic community of the Russian Orthodox Church of Australia called the Holy Transfiguration Monastery (HTM). We have been extremely concerned with the way in which wind farms, and in particular the one adjacent to our existence in far southern NSW called Boco Rock Windfarm, will have an impact upon our community as shown in current predicaments around the globe and here in Australia at existing and operating wind developments. Our existence, indeed function, depends very much on the stability and silence of the natural surroundings. We accommodate 4000 people per annum at our guest facilities and take great efforts in assisting and attending to their diverse and complex needs. My job is to oversee the function and wellbeing of the monastic community and the visitors who seek respite and care through our doors. Having become aware of the anecdotal information available about the health impacts wind farms can have on people, I took my own initiative and visited wind farm communities and affected peoples both here in Australia and abroad in the USA, Japan, Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, Turkey, Greece and Germany. I am unequivocally convinced that after hundreds of discussions, staying at peoples houses, counselling and consoling them in their suffering, that these adverse health impacts from wind turbines are not anecdotal nor ‘nocebo’ but unfortunately true and even worse than possibly imagined.
Can anyone hear us?
My travels in Turkey 2012 are a good example of the anguish people adjacent to wind farms are enduring. Having arrived there to the outskirts of the city of Antakya near the border with Syria to look at ancient ruins, we happened upon a cluster of 28 120 meter tall turbines “kindly” donated by the German government right in the middle of this very poor stone hut village. Without any need for prompting my driver and his family who were showing us about the ruins, they detailed to me with sorrow and anger the soaring rates of cancer and complex health issues within their own family, let alone the entire village there. They had never heard of ‘wind turbine syndrome’ nor did they have access to the internet or have literacy skills to verify or understand what was happening to them, such was their level of dire poverty. But regardless of verifying or testing somehow that these turbines were killing them or not, one thing was clear and that was everybody in this village was somehow medically and mentally impacted upon as a result of the the turbines being planted in the middle of their village. These people had no voice. No one heard their plea or cry for help. I look at the impact Australia’s wind turbines are having on some people here, and I am fearful of the same mistake and situation happening here at the Monastery. Who is listening?
The silence is paramount
The Holy Transfiguration Monastery has undertaken independent acoustic assessments on its land in light of the wind farm being built next to us. Our surroundings are precious to our way of life and the site for the monastery was chosen simply for its silence, which is paramount for our function. The natural ambient noise is extremely low and is fundamental to our requirements for peaceful quiet meditation and inner prayer. Our need for action on this urgent issue and threat to our way of life were raised when we learnt of a parallel situation to ours with the Buddhist monks in Tharpaland, Scotland, who did their own independent investigations and research  but ultimately, in conclusion of their comprehensive studies, were forced off their land because of the proposed and approved wind farm development there.
[1. Submission from Tharpaland International Retreat Centre. Executive Summary. Three Windfarm Studies and an Assessment of Infrasound]
Key research ignored
Wind turbine noise has been around and clearly documented for about 30 years . We believe that the NHMRC have ignored the Kelley research and the research of paediatrician Dr Nina Pierpont  who conducted a case series crossover study published in 2009 and identified the risk factors for developing symptoms of “wind turbine syndrome” which others around the globe are now independently confirming and which acousticians have acknowledged they have known about for years. What the NHMRC lacks is their direct research that we have done ourselves in visiting the homes of sick people, spending the time listening to them, taking note of their symptoms, the complaints and the suffering wind turbines have caused. Indeed, is it possible that the NHMRC have made sure that none of this first hand genuine field evidence is ever accepted? Presumably because then they can say that they “did not know how bad it was”. But we believe that the NHMRC must take a drastically improved perspective of this long overdue issue and begin delivering to the thousands of suffering individuals impacted adversely by environmental noise, including wind turbine noise.
[2. Kelley, ND 1987, Problem with Low Frequency Noise—Wind Turbines Scientifically Identified]
[3. “Wind Turbine Syndrome and the Brain” Pierpont N]
Commendation and condemnation
While we commend the Federal Government for committing to this research of wind turbine syndrome, we feel that the NHMRC in this case lacks integrity because they have left out some of the most important research, which has been done in this area around the globe. Whether this is pure incompetence or undeclared and non transparent conflicts of interest as revealed by Senators Madigan and Back, makes a mockery of the public concern and undermines the moral and professional integrity of those people involved with the recent NHMRC literature review.
The Holy Transfiguration Monastery community provides an important service to:
1) people with multiple health conditions
2) those mentally impaired
3) autistic children who enjoy the natural surrounding away from cities
4) those with neuro-developmental challenges
5) those in need of spiritual growth and personal development in Australia
6) those wanting to protect and nurture their cultural and spiritual heritage
7) those disaffected from society through trauma or war
8) new immigrants needing a place to spend time while adjusting into their new home country of Australia
9) those recovering from drug dependancy
If the Holy Transfiguration Monastery’s work and benefit to the broader community is to continue along with its freedom of religious expression in this once beautiful and silent part of Australia, then the impact of the￼adjacent wind farm next to us needs to be thoroughly reassessed in a way that is unlike that of the current NHMRC whose credibility and professionalism has been morally and fatally compromised.
We speak for all wind turbine sufferers in Australia and globally. We speak for natural justice. Its time to start listening and healing those in need.
Fr Sergei Shatrov
Abbott of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Bombala, NSW
11th April 2014
Re: NHMRC Draft Consultation Report on health and wind energy facilities [Draft Report]
To: Professor Warwick Anderson CEO of the NHMRC and the NHMRC Committee on Wind Farms and Human Health
To: the Australian Federal Members of the Lower and Upper Houses
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