Windfarm victims vindicated

The wind industry assured us that people complaining of ‘wind turbine syndrome’ were delusional or confusing symptoms or …. oh, let’s just say they had a myriad of reasons why the victims should not be believed. Well, here is your proof fellas. Who is delusional now?

World Council for Nature

Press Release from WCFN
26 January 2015


Peer-reviewed study shatters claims that wind turbines are “safe”

Link found between infrasound emitted by wind turbines and complaints of “unbearable sensations” by residents

In a groundbreaking study at Pacific Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater windfarm in the state of Victoria, Australia’s leading acoustical engineer Steven Cooper found that a unique infrasound pattern, which he had labelled “Wind Turbine Signature” in previous studies, correlates (through a “trend line”) with the occurrence and severity of symptoms of residents who had complained of often-unbearable “sensations”. These include sleep disturbance, headaches, heart racing, pressure in the head, ears or chest, etc. as described by the residents (symptoms generally known as Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS), or the euphemism “noise annoyance” – ed). (1)

The acoustician also identified “discrete low frequency amplitude modulated signals” emitted by wind turbines, and found the…

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About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from full-time practice in 2002 to take up a lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). His current interest is the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
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4 Responses to Windfarm victims vindicated

  1. dave says:

    All of this evidence of the negative health impacts of industrial wind turbines has been made available to the government department charged with setting guidelines and regulation to protect its citizens. If they are not reflected in the new guidelines being drafted now, will we have another army deafness type case? Is it gross negligence?

    • Neil van Dokkum says:

      It was gross negligence when they did not bother to find out the truth, but now that they know of these findings if they continued to ignore them when drafting the guidelines then that goes beyond gross negligence, it rather becomes malicious intent.

  2. Pat Swords says:

    The issue can in many respects be summarised in that we do actually have a good legal framework in place to deal with these matters, but there is a bloody minded determination in our public authorities to ignore it. There should of course have been a Strategic Environmental Assessment done for this renewable programme, in particular before the adoption of the NREAP. Our legislation on this dates from 2004 and implements the relevant EU Directive 2001/42/EC. Section 17 of our 2004 regulation couldn’t be more obvious:
    17. The competent authority shall monitor the significant environmental effects of implementation of the plan or programme, or modification to a plan or programme in order, inter alia, to identify at an early stage unforeseen adverse effects and to be able to undertake appropriate remedial action and, for this purpose, existing monitoring arrangements may be used, if appropriate, with a view to avoiding duplication of monitoring.

    So they never did the Strategic Environmental Assessment and they never did the monitoring – is there negligence? Of course, since it was documented that back in 2009, that when they were preparing the NREAP, both the Irish and EU authorities were made well aware of the requirement for the Strategic Environmental Assessment. I was in fact looking for it through the formal legal process of an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information and DCENR got into a bit of a tizzy and wrote to the EU Commission asking for clarification.

    The below is particularly damming;

    Click to access frCommC54LetterIrishAd2ECreNREAP.pdf

    The EU waited nearly five months later until the NREAPs had been formally adopted and sent to the Commission before replying to the Member States. Their reply was a complete joke, in that only if there were mandatory elements in the NREAP was a Strategic Environmental Assessment required. So how could a plan to implement mandatory targets, with enforcement measures in the Directive, if you did not maintain the trajectory on the plan, be somehow not mandatory? Bloody obvious that the plan was mandatory when it came to delivering renewable energy infrastructure, but ‘un-mandatory’ when it came to the rights of the citizen. Lovely, wasn’t it.

    As far as to the semantics used by DCENR. Yes you could argue that a policy does not engage a Strategic Environmental Assessment, as it is a generalised statement of intent. However, the NREAP was a plan / programme, for which sectoral targets are set in Section 3, the measures for achieving those targets are set in Section 4, in particular those for the electricity infrastructure development in Section 4.2.6 and the support schemes in Section 4.3, while in Section 5, the contribution of each renewable technology is defined, as the EU’s NREAP template states:

    “For the electricity sector, both the expected (accumulated) installed capacity (in MW) and yearly production (GWh) should be indicated by technology”.

    The NREAP is a ten year plan in which defined infrastructure is to be financially supported, brought through the regulatory framework and delivered as functioning projects. Plus we have multiple references to it, as a basis of planning decisions by Local Authorities and An Bord Pleanala, while it also forms the justification behind the wind energy elements of the County Development Plans. So therefore it ‘sets the framework for future development consent’, which is the wording used in Section 9 of S.I. No. 435 of 2004 in relation to the requirement for a Strategic Environmental Assessment:

    One can also point out Section 15 that you have to go through all of this Strategic Environmental Assessment process before you can adopt the plan or programme. So as there is no doubt, the European Court has also already given guidance on what ‘sets the framework for future development consent’:
    • 67. To summarise, it can therefore be said that a plan or programme sets a framework in so far as decisions are taken which influence any subsequent development consent of projects, in particular with regard to location, nature, size and operating conditions or by allocating resources.”

    Pretty much plain English to me and I don’t see how somebody could remotely claim that the NREAP didn’t set a framework for the future development consent of projects, such as high voltage lines and wind farms, which are listed within the scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive 85/337/EEC as amended.

    So there is gross negligence, not just with respect to the Irish State, but also the EU. It is also worth pointing out that the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Lisbon Treaty is clear in that you have a right to good administration and a right to have damages made good. This in fact simply summarises previous jurisprudence of the European Court in relation to Member State Liability for not complying with EU Legislation. Indeed, given that the EU Commission would rather you sued your Member State for damages rather than they had the hassle of enforcement, they even wrote a guide on it for you:

    So there has to be a legal breach, for instance the above, you have had to have suffer damages (future damages can be included) and there has to be a causal link. Clearly for many people who have now suffered significant loss of residential amenity, this wouldn’t have happened if the whole NREAP had go through the proper due legal process, the impacts assessed, the mitigation measures worked out, and the monitoring for unforeseen adverse impacts completed. After all, it’s bloody obvious with Ireland’s scattered rural population, you could never have delivered all the MWs of wind energy in Section 5 of the NREAP without seriously impacting on that population.

    So guys and girls, you have until the 30th June this year to get your claim for damages in, as there is a five year rule and the NREAP was adopted on the 30th June 2010.

    If I was a cynic and was to contemplate that it is now essentially two years, since the wind energy guidelines review in relation to noise and shadow flicker was initiated, then one could point out that if more stringent regulatory conditions do emerge, then this is essentially an admission of negligence with what proceeded it. So maybe they won’t come out now until July this year??

  3. Pingback: Setback Distances from Wind Turbines / Wind Farms | The Law is my Oyster

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