The fact that wind turbines are dangerous to human (and animal) health is now so well established as to be almost axiomatic. A previous blog (and subsequent comments) highlighted the extensive peer-reviewed research showing the dangers of infrasound.
The Precautionary Principle is now an established part of EU law (see Recuerda, Miguel A. (2006). “Risk and Reason in the European Union Law” European Food and Feed Law Review page 5.). The principle says that when scientific evidence concerning the harm potential of a given industrial activity leaves room for doubt, that activity should not be undertaken. Proposed mitigating measures are not an adequate response, because if you do not know the nature or degree of risk you cannot prepare for its eventuation.
Even if this government was correct in its nonsensical assertion that there is not sufficient evidence to show that wind turbines are harmful to humans and animals, the point is that they admit they do not know for certain. The precautionary principle therefore says they should not be allowing wind turbines to be built until it is known that no harm can be caused to its citizens by these turbines.
This is confirmed by the behaviour of some other governments or public authorities in countries purporting to rule by democracy. In America for example, on 14 October 2014, the Brown County Board of Health declared the Shirley Wind Turbine Development a Human Health Hazard.
The decision was based on a report of a year-long study conducted by the Enz family with assistance from Mr Rick James to document acoustic emissions from the wind turbines including infrasound and low frequency noise, inside homes within a radius of 6 miles of the Shirley Wind turbines.
The wording of the motion was as follows:
“To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County. WI. a Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.”
The context is in reference to Brown County Code 38.01 in the Brown County Ordinances, in Chapter 38, relating to Public Health Nuisance (section (b) Human Health Hazard).
“Human Health Hazard” means a substance, activity or condition that is known to have the potential to cause acute or chronic illness or death if exposure to the substance, activity or condition is not abated.
Similarly, in Australia, the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines issued its final report, after consulting with all stakeholders, in August 2015. Their first two recommendations (amongst many) concerned the need for independent research (i.e. not commissioned by the wind industry or the DCENR) into infrasound and its effect on humans:
“An Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Industrial Sound (IESC) 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”.
“The government should assign the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Industrial Sound with the following responsibilities:
• development of a single national acoustic standard on noise from wind turbines, both audible and low frequency, that is cognisant of the existing standards, Australian conditions and the signature of new turbine technologies;
• provision of scientific and technical advice to assess whether a proposed or existing wind farm project poses risks to individual and community health;
• provision of scientific and technical advice to the state authorities to assess whether a proposed or existing wind farm or industrial project poses risks to individual and community health.”
What is clear is that the American and Australian authorities regard the risks posed by wind turbines as a medical / health problem and therefore are clear in their recommendation that it is the health authorities (and not the energy authorities) that should be facilitating this process. The third Recommendation from the Australian Senate Committee underlines this thinking:
“Mandate by law that where the Regulator (in Ireland the CER) receives an application from a wind power station, the Regulator must:
• confer with the Minister for Health and the Chief Medical Officer to ascertain the level of risk that the proposed project poses to individual and community health. If the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Industrial Sound finds that the wind power station does pose risks to human health, the Regulator must not accredit the power station until such time as the Minister for Health is satisfied that these risks have been mitigated.”
And what is the Minister of Health’s response to this suggestion?
QUESTION NO: 882
“DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Health (Leo Varadkar)
by Deputy Billy Kelleher
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 22/09/2015
* To ask the Minister for Health in view of the EU OSHA in respect of workers safety in the energy sector, his view on concerns over the health of persons who live in close proximity to wind farms; his plans to carry out research into any possible threat; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Billy Kelleher T.D.
Policy responsibility with regard to planning and the legislative framework in relation to wind farms rests with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. My Department provides advice on public health issues from time to time when requested by the above mentioned Department.
At this time, my Department is not aware of any reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans. My Department will continue to monitor developments, analyse the evidence and provide advice accordingly.”
It is bizarre that the known health hazards associated with industrial wind turbines are not regulated by the public health agencies like the HSE and the HSA. Instead, they are regulated by a department only interested in increasing output, not ensuring public health.
So come on Leo. Get off your arse and protect the health of your citizens.