Research into Wind Turbine Infrasound

Alex White - Oyster
The research is extensive and continuing, and it is not good news for the wind industry. Despite their tobacco-style advertising and “sponsorship” of tame academics and front organisations like Environmental Impact Assessment, there is now a sound body of research that confirms the dangers of infrasound emitted by wind turbines.
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These include:

Editorial: Wind turbine noise by Christopher D Hanning and Alun Evans British Medical Journal, BM J2 012;344d oi: 10.1136/ bmj.e1527 (8 March 2012).

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Christopher Hanning, BSc, MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, FRCA, MD is an honorary consultant in sleep medicine Sleep Disorders Service, University Hospitals of Leicester, Leicester General Hospital, Leicester, UK Dr Chris Hanning is Honorary Consultant in Sleep Disorders Medicine to the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, UK. He retired in September 2007 as Consultant in Sleep Disorders Medicine.
His expertise in this field has been accepted by the civil, criminal and family courts. He chairs the Advisory panel of the SOMNIA study, a major project investigating sleep quality in the elderly, and sits on Advisory panels for several companies with interests in sleep medicine.

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“Our very own” Alun Evans, is an epidemiologist, Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University of Belfast, Institute of Clinical Science B, Belfast, UK, who has been leading the fight in Ireland against industrial wind turbines being located near dwellings because of the adverse health effects on their inhabitants.

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The British Medical Journal is possibly the most respected medical journal in the world.

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This is an excerpt from the BMJ web site:

“Seems to affect health adversely and an independent review of evidence is needed.
The evidence for adequate sleep as a prerequisite for human health, particularly child health, is overwhelming. Governments have recently paid much attention to the effects of environmental noise on sleep duration and quality, and to how to reduce such noise. However, governments have also imposed noise from industrial wind turbines on large swathes of peaceful countryside.
The impact of road, rail, and aircraft noise on sleep and daytime functioning (sleepiness and cognitive function) is well established. Shortly after wind turbines began to be erected close to housing, complaints emerged of adverse effects on health. Sleep disturbance was the main complaint. Such reports have been dismissed as being subjective and anecdotal, but experts contend that the quantity, consistency, and ubiquity of the complaints constitute epidemiological evidence of a strong link between wind turbine noise, ill health, and disruption of sleep.”

http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/15-B-M%20J-Noise.pdf

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See also: http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/politics/leading-professor-warns-health-dangers-5774430

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The Problems With ‘Noise Numbers’ for Wind Farm Noise Assessment by Bob Thorne, in the Bulletin of Science Technology & Society 2011 31: 262. Bob is a professor at Massey University in New Zealand and he is an environmental health research associate in the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health at Massey University.

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Bob showed that the sounds emitted by wind turbines are unique and therefore to simply set ordinary noise limits (like one does for traffic or night clubs) fails to address the health problems caused by the sounds coming from wind farms.

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See: http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/01-swv_symposium_paper_thorne_problems_with_noise_numbers.pdf

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Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health related quality of life by Daniel Shepherd, David McBride, David Welch, Kim N. Dirks, Erin M. Hill, Noise & Health, September-October 2011, 13:54,333-9. See: http://www.noiseandhealth.org

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The authors conducted an in-depth study of individuals living close to wind farms, and these were compared to residents living in similar circumstances but without wind farms. Statistically significant differences were noted in some HRQOL (Health-related quality of life) domain scores, with residents living within 2 km of a turbine installation reporting lower overall quality of life, physical quality of life, and environmental quality of life. Those exposed to turbine noise also reported significantly lower sleep quality, and rated their environment as less restful.

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See: http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/02-Evaluating-the-impact-of-wind-turbine-noise1.pdf

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Mitigating the Acoustic Impacts of Modern Technologies: Acoustic, Health, and Psychosocial Factors: Informing Wind Farm Placement by Daniel Shepherd and Rex Billington, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society (2011) 31: page 389.

The authors both hold doctorates in psychoacoustics and health psychology. The authors identify key considerations for the development of wind turbine noise standards.

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Alex White, are you listening? And your mate Alan Kelly?

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http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/03-Mitigating-the-Acoustic-Impacts-of-Modern-Technologies.pdf

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Public Health Ethics, Legitimacy, and the Challenges of Industrial Wind Turbines: The Case of Ontario, Canada by Martin Shain, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society, (2011) 31: page 256. The author is an assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Occupational and Environmental Health Division, University of Toronto.

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Martin convincingly shows that current methods used by governments to evaluate licensing applications for industrial wind turbines do not meet most public health ethical criteria. He also shows that they routinely violate established legal principles like the Precautionary Principle, the Least Impactful Means (Proportionality) Test, and the Neighbour Principle.

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Again, Ministers White and Kelly, and the Minister of Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, are you listening?

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See: http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/04-shain_public_health_ethics_wind_turbines.pdf

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Infrasound From Wind Turbines Could Affect Humans by Alec N. Salt and James A.Kaltenbach Bulletin of Science Technology & Society (2011) 31: page 296.

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Alec Salt has a PhD from the University of Birmingham, and has been researching the physiology of the ear for over 35 years. James Kaltenbach has a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and specializes in the neurobiology of hearing disorders.
The authors demonstrate how serious misconceptions about low-frequency sound and the ear have resulted from a failure to consider in detail how the ear works. Responses to infrasound reach the brain through pathways that do not involve conscious hearing but instead may produce sensations of fullness, pressure or tinnitus, or have no sensation, all of which disturb sleep.

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http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/05-Infrasound-from-Wind-Turbines-Could-Affect-Humans-SaltKaltenbach.pdf

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The same Alec salt has also conducted research with T.E. Hullar, Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine, published as Responses of the ear to low frequency sounds, infrasound and wind turbines in Hearing Research (2010) Sep 1; 268(1-2):12-21, which shows that the outer hair cells of the ear are stimulated by sounds at levels below those that are heard.

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See: http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/06-Responsesof-the-ear-to-low-frequency-sounds-saltlichtenhan.pdf

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A final example (there is only so much I can read!) of the extensive research being carried out into low frequency sound and wind turbines is by three of the most experienced researchers in the business: Robert W. Rand, Stephen E. Ambrose, and Carmen M. E. Krogh, who published Occupational Health and Industrial Wind Turbines: A Case Study in the Bulletin of Science Technology & Society (2011) 31: page 359.
The authors conducted an extensive and meticulous case study on industrial wind turbine workers.
See: http://bst.sagepub.com/content/31/5/359

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As I said, these are the ones that I managed to read. There are many more peer-reviewed publications that all confirm the damage caused by industrial wind turbines:

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Properly Interpreting the Epidemiologic Evidence About the Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines on Nearby Residents by Carl V. Phillips, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society (2011) 31: 303.
http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/08-Interp_Evidence_re_Wind_Turbines.pdf

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Toward a Case Definition of Adverse Health Effects in the Environs of Industrial Wind Turbines: Facilitating a Clinical Diagnosis by Robert Y. McMurtry, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society (2011) 31: page 316.
See: http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/09-mcmurtry_toward_a_case_definition_wind_turbines.pdf

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Low-frequency noise from large wind turbines by Henrik Møller and Christian Sejer Pedersen , J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 129 (6), June 2011 Pages: 3727–3744.
See: http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/10-Low-frequency%20noise%20from%20large%20wind%20turbines.pdf

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WindVOiCe, a Self-Reporting Survey: Adverse Health Effects, Industrial Wind Turbines, and the Need for Vigilance Monitoring by Carmen M.E. Krogh, Lorrie Gillis, Nicholas Kouwen, and Jeffery Aramini, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society (2011) 31: page 334
See: http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/11-krogh_etal_windvoice_wind_turbines.pdf

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Industrial Wind Turbine Development and Loss of Social Justice? by Carmen M.E. Krogh , Bulletin of Science Technology & Society (2011) 31: page 321.
See: http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/12-krogh_wind_turbines_and_loss_of_social_justice.pdf

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Wind Turbines Make Waves: Why Some Residents Near Wind Turbines Become Ill by Magda Havas and David Colling, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society (2011) 31: page 414.
http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/13-Havas-Colling-wind-article.pdf

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Literature Reviews on Wind Turbines and Health : Are They Enough? by Brett Horner, Roy D. Jeffery and Carmen M. E. Krogh, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society (2011) 31: 399.
http://nieuwerustnoisewatch.org/wp-content/documents/peer-reviewed-articles/14-Literature-Reviews-on-Wind-Turbines-and-Health.pdf

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There is a lot more where that came from. See:http://stopthesethings.com/2015/09/16/incessant-wind-turbine-infrasound-an-acoustic-invader/

Do your own internet searches and you will see the overwhelming evidence that industrial wind turbines are harmful to both humans and animals. Couple that with the fact that they are incredibly expensive, not environmentally friendly (no carbon savings worth mentioning), are pushing up the electricity prices, causing fuel poverty whilst making the rich even richer, and you must wonder why our government is determined to crowd the countryside with the damn things?

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What is important about this research is that it is conducted by highly qualified and recognised experts and published in peer-reviewed journals. What that means is that it is scrutinised by an editorial board and a number of “blind” readers who look at things like research methodology, impartiality, etc. This would be exactly the opposite to the type of reports relied on by the Irish government which are generally written by a cowboy who used to do advertising jingles for the tobacco industry.

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Addendum:

Many thanks to Nigel de Haas of “West Cork Wind” for this further information

See http://www.westcorkwind.com/index.php/wind-issues/noise
for full details.

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M.A.Swinbanks defined health issues from low frequency noise (LFN) at the 6th International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise Glasgow on 23 April 2015
http://www.epaw.org/documents/swinbanks-glasgow.pdf

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Senior Surgical Pathologist Nuno A. Castelo Branco, M.D. presented a paper on LFN induced pathology at EuroNoise in Maastricht on 03 June 2015
http://docs.wind-watch.org/Euronoise2015-000602.pdf

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Dr. C. Koch of the German PTB characterised human perception of LFN at the 22nd International Congress on Noise and Vibration on 12 July 2015
http://en.friends-against-wind.org/doc/Full_paper_Koch_V2.pdf

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Ministers White and Kelly, are you listening, or perhaps more importantly, are you reading? Rather than spending money we do not have on some ‘friendly’ report, why not read the research out there already?

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 practice in 2002 to take up a full-time 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). He is an accredited and practising mediator and is busy writing a book, with Dr Sinead Conneely, on Mediation in Ireland. His current interest is Ireland’s energy policy and its impact on the people and the environment. He is also researching 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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22 Responses to Research into Wind Turbine Infrasound

  1. fclauson says:

    Alec Salt quotes the following in one of his article (see
    http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/2014/medical-school-research-team-confirms-wind-turbine-infrasound-can-produce-wind-turbine-syndrome-usa/ )

    While the Chief Scientist [the person who came to take sound measurements in her house] undertaking the measurement informed me that he was aware of the low frequency hum the turbines produced (he lives close to a wind farm himself and had recorded the humming noise levels indoors in his own home) he advised that I could tune this noise out and that any adverse symptoms I was experiencing were simply psychosomatic.”

    This is allegedly from here in Ireland – and its my understanding that this person is tasked with ensuring compliance of wind farms for a whole county.

    What concerns me most is the belief this is “psychosomatic” when the reported acoustic pattern can actually be measured and observed with an inanimate sound meter.

  2. Francis, that is deeply concerning indeed, but standard operating practice in Ireland. The government chooses people to do its reports on the basis that they get what they order beforehand. There is no peer review or independent analysis, just His Master’s Voice.

    • fclauson says:

      Neil

      it is only by the brutal, continuous and ever vigilant public that these type of issues can be progressed.

      I will give Wexford CC credit – they are now employing external acousticians to asses these noise issues. It’s taken 2 years and we will have no reports before Easter next year – but it’s a start. I am still waiting to see the specification of what is being asked for.

      We need the Irish Medical profession to take a stance on this as did the Irish DCMO a while ago – unfortunately she never went on to provide further support on the matter.

      In parallel we need to move this into the domain of the EPA – they can issue guidance & direction which even already build wind farms would have to abide by.

      Similarly the HSE and the HSA should also become involved.

      • Francis, again I would agree. Very often it is only after litigation or the threat of litigation that those organisations that you mentioned would be bothered to play by the rules. Concerning the Irish doctors, don’t forget that a group of them, led by Dr. Graham Roberts and Prof. Alun Evans, did release a statement expressing concern at the health effects of turbines and pylons.

  3. This is no longer some obscure issue that can be brushed away. In the past few months alone, several notable papers have been read at major international acoustic conferences, including:
    ● M.A.Swinbanks defined health issues from low frequency noise (LFN) at the 6th International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise Glasgow on 23 April 2015
    ● Senior Surgical Pathologist Nuno A. Castelo Branco, M.D. presented a paper on LFN induced pathology at EuroNoise in Maastricht on 03 June 2015
    ● Dr. C. Koch of the German PTB characterised human perception of LFN at the 22nd International Congress on Noise and Vibration on 12 July 2015
    Laboratory studies have shown that infrasound (LFN) can cause nausea, headaches, disturbed sleep and cognitive impairment, yet LFN is currently excluded from the planning process – the regulations only require audible noise to be measured.
    The Australian Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines final report of August 2015 contains fifteen recommendations, the first of which is that an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Industrial Sound should be established by law and its provisions should state that the Scientific Committee must conduct ‘independent, multi-disciplinary research into the adverse impacts and risks to individual and community health and wellbeing associated with wind turbine projects and any other industrial projects which emit sound and vibration energy’.
    See http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Wind_Turbines/Wind_Turbines/Final_Report
    It is unlikely that the physiology of the Irish public differs from that of Australians. It is high time for the Government to take action on wind turbine noise emission limits, including ILFN, in the interests of public health protection. That is why we elect public representatives.

  4. Thanks Nigel. I will see if I can get PDFs of those papers as well, to add to the ever burgeoning library of research.

  5. Reblogged this on The Law is my Oyster and commented:

    With further research details added.

  6. LMoorhead says:

    Neil,
    The work that Associate Professor of Neuroscience Simon Carlile is currently undertaking at the Sydney University Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory (see http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/wind-farm-effect-on-balance-akin-to-seasickness-scientist/story-e6frg8y6-1227393700133) points to the fact that the low frequency infrasound produced by wind turbines impacts on the human nervous system, particularly the vestibular system involved in balance. Those with a predisposition to vestibular disorders can be physically impacted by this noise, much in the same way that some people will be impacted by sea sickness (also a vestibular disorder), while others experience no effects.
    The problem with vestibular disorders is that unless you live in an environment where you are exposed to stimuli that trigger an effect on the vestibular system, such as low frequency infrasound, you may not be aware that you may have an underlying problem. This was the situation in my own case. While I had suffered very occasional bouts of vertigo and migraine, which I can now trace back to specific stimuli, it was only when ABO Wind erected four wind turbines close to our home that I began to experience frequent bouts of migraine, dizziness and nausea. Following exhaustive tests, I was diagnosed with vestibular migraine, a condition that affects about 1% of migraine sufferers and produces vertigo-like symptoms, as well as migraine. While it has been good to have this diagnosis of my condition, the medication prescribed has not been effective and unless and until I am prepared to resort to beta blockers to try and mask the symptoms I experience (just because the wind is blowing and the turbines are operating) I have no option but to accept the nausea, headaches and dizziness resulting from the near constant exposure to the audible and inaudible noise produced by these turbines.
    The fact that the link between low frequency infrasound and the symptoms experienced by those with vestibular conditions is not accepted by the wind industry or its proponents (despite Profes­sor Carlile’s findings that the nervous system responds to the low frequency noise produced by wind turbines) is a cause for serious concern. In much the same way that the wind industry has developed a targeted name-calling campaign to label those with concerns about their projects as NIMBY’s or Greenwashers, anyone raising issues about physiological effects is told by industry proponents that their symptoms are psychosomatic. This most certainly has the desired effect of silencing suffers. It’s bad enough to have a condition that people cannot really understand, especially when they are not affected in the same way by the same stimuli, but when you know that you are going to be told that the problem is all in your mind, it is hard to muster a reasoned response.
    There is no doubt that much research is still needed to determine how the noise produced by wind turbines can physically impact on some people. That said, in the past one thousand years no one has yet determined precisely why some people suffer from sea sickness while others do not. Simply ignoring the problem of the effects caused by wind turbine low frequency infrasound or refusing to acknowledge that it can impact on some people, particularly those with underlying vestibular conditions, is not a sustainable option.

  7. fclauson says:

    What Moorhead has raised is the regulators, planners and government’s really interesting question of knowing who will be affected by something before its built.
    We have all seen notices in restaurants saying “may contain nuts” or news readers saying “this video contains flash photography” or escalators warning us “you are approaching the end of the escalator” or lifts which tell you which floor you are on. All of these are warning a subset of society about a potential threat to their health or well being which otherwise they might not be aware of.
    The precautionary principle is detailed in Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (EU).
    In summary “The precautionary principle enables rapid response in the face of a possible danger to human, animal or plant health, or to protect the environment. In particular, where scientific data do not permit a complete evaluation of the risk, recourse to this principle may, for example, be used to stop distribution or order withdrawal from the market of products likely to be hazardous.”
    At what point can this be called upon to challenge such an impact as infra-sound. We knows its very hard to measure, Its difficult to determine who might be affected by it, and there is a raft of conflicting evidence but are we now not in a situation “where scientific data do not permit a complete evaluation of the risk,” probably
    Its only by the High Court will these ever be tested because the euros invested at his stage would be too many to be overturned just because there is a “possible danger”

  8. LMoorhead says:

    The research Nigel has highlighted, particularly the study undertaken by Dr. Koch at the German National Metrology Institute, has moved us past the point of speculating about a human response to the noise produced by wind turbines. The neuroimaging results show the clear response of the human brain to ILFN and supports the findings of Dr. Alec Salt’s groundbreaking research into the impact of wind turbine noise on the vestibular system of animals.

    It will be interesting to see if the national acoustic model for wind farms which RPS are developing for the SEAI will take account of the most recent scientific evidence with regard to wind turbine noise. I suspect that the noise emission data they are producing will not deal with ILFN emissions, so we will be left with yet another incomplete study, similar to the ‘evidenced based environmental studies’ produced for Eirgrid. .

    • fclauson says:

      In the case

      PEOPLE OVER WIND, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION ALLIANCE IRELAND
      AND AN BORD PLEANÁLA

      Full court document : http://www.courts.ie/Judgments.nsf/0/1CA618D24779DDA780257E74003C3965

      The have one an appeal to examine

      (A) What obligation, if any, is on An Bord Pleanála, to seek or procure the best scientific evidence in carrying out an appropriate assessment?

      The outcome from this will be most interesting as it will set a standard or at least some guidance for what any department of government must do to show it has taken every effort to examine the current state of knowledge in the area they are tasked with looking at and providing guidance on.

  9. Pingback: C’mon Leo, get off your arse. | The Law is my Oyster

  10. Pingback: Research into Wind Turbine Infrasound | ajmarciniak

  11. pattikellar says:

    Reblogged this on pattikellar and commented:
    People all over the world are trying to get the powers that be to understand the dangers associated with turbines.

  12. Yes. It is time that the world became aware of the extremely harmful effects of ILFNs (infra-sound and low frequency noise) that industrial scale wind turbines produce. Quality of life issues are an every day problem for sensitized individuals. They cannot abide staying in “big box” department stores because the air heating/cooling equipment, usually installed on their roofs, fill the store spaces with ILFNs. Some fatal cardiac arrests have been reported in Ontario after the victims sustained only one week of exposure to nearby wind turbines. There can be NO justification for this kind of endangerment, ever. This is a failed technology that could not exist without public subsidy funding. It must be stopped.

  13. Pingback: Recent Energy And Environmental News – November 23rd 2015 | PA Pundits - International

  14. Pingback: It’s “Academic Research”, it must be true! | The Law is my Oyster

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