Glasgow, 22nd September 2017 —
- Melvin Grosvenor, Independent Noise Working Group (INWG)
- M Patrick Dugast, LCF Acoustique Expert, Acoustique et Vibrations
- Dr John Yelland MA DPhil (Oxon) MInstP FIET MIOA AMASA
- Professor Mariana Alves Pereira, PhD
Melvin Grosvenor, representing INWG and affected communities relayed official responses contained in recent correspondence to concerned residents, from the UK Government, Department of Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (DBEIS), The Scottish Government, Energy and Climate Change Directorate, (ECCD), NHS Ayrshire & Arran (NHS A&A), Health Protection Scotland, which broadly conclude that: “there is no evidence of health effects arising from infrasound or low frequency noise generated by wind turbines”.
These combined responses cited reports and studies, including an extract in the letter from (ECCD) taken from the Institute of Acoustics (IoA) Bulletin 2009, coauthored by named acousticians.
Affected residents have been passed from pillar to post and back again: taking the advice offered by NHS A&A to consult their GPs, and on doing so state that their GP’s response is that they have little or no guidance or medical references to diagnose “wind turbine syndrome”.
In addition NHS A&A refer to North Ayrshire Council’s (NAC) Environmental Health assessments, which they conclude that in the case of the SSE’s Hunterston turbines, these are operating within noise limits set by planning conditions and that SSE have conducted low frequency monitoring which meets current guidance.
Both Dr Yelland and Professor Alves Pereira’s evidence demonstrated that current low frequency & infrasound monitoring is not fit for purpose, as the equipment deployed is not designed to record within the specific lower frequency ranges required to find evidence of infrasound impacts.
The Hunterston case is indicative of many other wind turbine complaints, where affected residents find no resolution through consented noise emission planning conditions or compliance monitoring, to check for breaches in planning conditions.
NAC Environmental Health latest response to adverse health complaints by residents attributed to infrasound and LFN stated: “I would again request that in future, issues relating to your health be directed towards your GP/NHS rather than Environmental Health. Environmental Health will only investigate complaints of excessive noise amounting to a statutory nuisance”.
The presentations by Dr John Yelland, visiting experienced French acoustician Patrick Dugast and Professor Mariana Alves Pereira provided convincing evidence that there is a significant failure to provide adequate protection to an increasing number of affected people, which includes children and in some cases various species of animals.
Professor Alves Pereria gave a detailed presentation of her research since the 1980s, that harmful infrasound emissions are not only propagated by wind turbines but other industrial sources & processes i.e., coal mining and grain dryers etc.
This evidence is contrary to the sources of information and guidance relied upon by all of the official bodies listed in Melvin Grosvenor’s presentation, who are tasked to provide adequate protection from harm to residents living in the proximity of wind turbines, be it single turbines or large scale wind farms.
Dr Yelland also highlighted the significant concern expressed by INWG and others, that affected residents are complaining merely because they are simply annoyed by the sight of wind turbines which can be attributed to a nebulous “nocebo effect” or other “nonacoustic factors”.
During the Q & A session several members of the audience relayed their experiences, including those who have already had to abandon their homes.
It was reported that only when the turbines are switched off or sufferers are away from their local area of impact, is there any respite from the serious health impacts they are suffering.
However on their return, affected residents are reporting when subjected to further exposure, their suffering increases in intensity and takes longer to ameliorate. There are cases where prolonged and continuous exposure causes victims to regularly flee from their homes.
Professor Alves Pereira also presented evidence that this prolonged exposure is linked to incremental harm evidenced by a wider range of symptoms, these have been reported to include, loss of balance, nausea, loss of coordination, a pressure in the ear, thumping in the head or chest, urinary and bowel incontinence, epistaxis (high volume nosebleeds), severe coughs and increase in chest complaints.
Melvin Grosvenor stated that this serious issue “cannot be swept under the carpet and there is an urgent need for truly independent, transparent and credible research which gains the confidence of existing victims.
“Victims need to be listened to and believed. Public Health needs to recognise Wind Turbine Syndrome, Vibro-Acoustic Disease and all the associated symptoms so that GPs and consultants can provide the right treatment and not waste time and money searching for ‘causes’ that do not exist.
“New guidance is long overdue on the safe separation distance from wind turbines to any home. No one should be used as collateral damage”.
It is also clear that the extremely constrained and time-limited research exercise in the case of residents at Hunterston, conducted by NHS A&A, predominantly searching for increase in cases of dizziness and nausea (along with the stated position of Health Protection Scotland) was significantly undermined by the compelling evidence presented at the Seminar.
Professor Mariana Alves-Pereira PhD stated, “It is encouraging to see that Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise is getting wider recognition as an agent of disease”.
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