The British Medical Association (BMA) is facing a backlash from doctors and anti-wind farm campaigners in Scotland who claim the body is not doing enough to investigate the impact of giant wind turbines on public health.
Homeowners who live within a few miles of wind turbines have complained that the whirring of blades causes chronic sleep deprivation. Others insist that headaches and nausea are linked to the low-level hum generated by turbines.
The European Platform Against Windfarms (EPAW) has been lobbying the BMA to monitor the health of patients – with the help of GP’s – who live in close proximity to wind farms.
However, at a meeting of BMA representatives in Harrogate last month, the body was urged to support renewables on the basis it will help mitigate the effects of climate change.
It was suggested that any investments held by the BMA be transferred “from energy companies whose primary business relied upon fossil fuels to those providing renewable energy sources” and that the body transfers to electricity suppliers who are “100% renewable”.
The move has angered some doctors who accused senior BMA officials of “ignoring” pleas to address a potential public health impact of onshore wind farms.
A spokeswoman for the BMA rejected the claims last week, insisting EPAW had made contact after a deadline for submissions to the meeting had passed. She said that although the meeting of representatives recommended investing in renewables, the BMA does not make direct investments.
However Susan Crosthwaite, an EPAW spokeswoman, said: “That a vote was subsequently taken at the meeting to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy without members having had access to the information we sent raises an issue of conflict of interests. Since May, attempts were made to have information given to members concerning adverse health effects of turbines. These attempts failed.”
Dr Angela Armstrong, a GP from Wigtown in Dumfriesshire, said: “As a BMA member I was distressed to hear that our president has ignored pleas to ask doctors to monitor the health of patients living near turbines in view of the ever increasing evidence that there are significant health implications.”
Studies have concluded that noise emitted by wind turbines can affect nearby residents. In Scotland, planning guidance is for turbines to be at least 1.24 miles from residential homes.
A spokeswoman for BMA Scotland said: “The BMA is happy to consider any motions submitted by members for debate to the annual conference – the policy-making body of the BMA. If a member of the BMA wishes our representatives to consider a motion to assess the health impact of wind farms, then there are clear protocols for submitting motions to the agenda committee.”