BMJ acknowledges health impacts of wind farms

The Low Spinney wind farm near my own village in Leics

The prestigious British Medical Journal has just published an editorial dealing with the health impacts of wind farms, implicitly criticising the authorised noise levels in the UK as too high, and calling for further research.  The piece is entitled “Wind Turbine noise seems to affect health adversely and an independent review of the evidence is needed”  As a very brief summary, it says that “The evidence for adequate sleep as a prerequisite for human health is overwhelming. Shortly after wind turbines began to be erected close to housing, complaints emerged of adverse effects on health. Sleep disturbance was the main complaint. A large body of evidence now exists to suggest that wind turbines disturb sleep and impair health at distances and external noise levels that are permitted in most jurisdictions. When seeking to generate renewable energy through wind, governments must ensure that the public will not suffer harm from additional ambient noise.”  Amen to that.

Sadly the whole paper cannot be accessed via the BMJ web-site with subscribing to the magazine, and copyright prevents me from publishing it here in full.  But it strongly supports the arguments made by wind farm objectors (and ignored by government Inspectors) for years: that the health impacts of wind farms on local communities are real, and a matter for concern, and that the effects may extend beyond even the 2km range that has been adopted by some local authorities in planning guidance.  It also argues that the noise limits in current UK legislation, and especially the government’s ETSU-R-97, may be set too high.  It calls, quite rightly, for an independent review of the evidence so that the public can be reassured, and so that planners and legislators have data they can rely on.

I am delighted that a publication as authoritative as the BMJ has made this point.  It would not publish such comments lightly.  I am doubly pleased that a co-author of the paper was my friend and neighbour Dr. Chris Hanning, a highly reputed specialist in sleep disorders who worked for years at the Leicester General Hospital.  Dr. Hanning advised the local wind farm protest group.

There is a serious issue here, which affects the lives of more and more families and communities as wind farm planning applications break out like a rash over England’s green and pleasant land (and over the moors of Scotland).  There are powerful technical and economic arguments against wind farms, but it’s also time for the government to look seriously at the health impacts.

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9 Responses to BMJ acknowledges health impacts of wind farms

  1. David Ramsbotham says:

    The evidence against wind turbines increases day by day – when is the Government going to take notice?

    Are you disillusioned by rising electricity prices, over dependence on the “green” dream [especially uneconomical and inefficient wind farms] and the destruction of our countryside then please register your objection to the Government on

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22958

    or by GOOGLING “E-PETITION 22958″ and following the link.

    Please pass this message on to MPs, Councillors, members of your community and anyone else you know to persuade them to sign up too. If you are really concerned about wind turbines please write a letter promoting this petition to your local Newsletter and to the Editors of your local newspapers.

    • Bill Palmer says:

      Mr. Ramsbotham,

      As a Canadian citizen and resident, I cannot sign your petition, but as one who has presented a number of papers at international conferences regarding wind turbine noise, and who has written on the economic impact of wind turbines, I would echo your call to encourage those who can sign the petition to do so. In my travel to view and research wind turbine sites in over a dozen counties (including the UK), I have observed a consistent pattern of concern expressed in a variety of manners, but with a consistent theme – people are bothered when wind turbines are too close to them. Work by Dr. Chris Hanning and others in a number of nations showing the link between the cyclical predominantly low frequency sound from wind turbines and sleep disuption – both recognized and the short duration not recalled disruptions shows a clear link as to why people are hurting.

      A paper that explains some of the reasons from the change in sound level at homes near wind turbines is published in the Acoustical Society of America Proceedings, as follows, “W.K.G. Palmer, Wind Turbine Noise – Clues to the Mystery of Why People are Hurting, May 23, 2011″ with this link http://www.acoustics.org/press/161st/Palmer.html

      William Palmer

      • David Ramsbotham says:

        Bill

        Thank you for your commemts. Hopefully the British public [followed by our politicians when an election is due] will wake up to all the facts before it is too late. Incidently, the only main UK political party against wind turbines is UKIP.

  2. Anthony says:

    This is very helpful for those of us who have been very concerned about adverse health effects, such as those exposed by Dr Nina Pierpont and Dr Amanda Harry, to name but two. The government relies on acousticians, who say that there are no adverse health effects from noise. But they are not clinicians and to my knowledge there is no clinical critique of the work of the published medical findings. So acousticians are not comparing like with like and, more importantly, are not qualified to comment on medical findings.

    Anthony

  3. You mean this report of course:
    BMJ 2012; 344 doi: 10.1136/bmj.e1527
    (Published 8 March 2012)

    Somebody in Wisconsin USA has published this report
    http://betterplan.squarespace.com/todays-special/2012/3/10/31012-british-medical-journal-wind-turbine-noise.html
    [that is only a link to another website - I think that in the USA that the doctrine of Fair Use then comes into play, and so for non-profit educational purposes, readers can legally view such texts]

  4. fausty says:

    The EU have pushed so much regulation onto us under the guise of “health and safety” that it would be poetic justice were we to get around their renewables regulation using the same device!

    • global citizen says:

      May I remind you that no EU directives come into force without the explicit consent of “our democratically elected” UK government?

  5. Mike Barnard says:

    Before you get all lathered up, it’s worth noting the extraordinary weaknesses of both their article and the value of an “editorial” in the BMJ.

    This rebuttal makes it clear that they continue in the tradition of cherry-picking data and overstating concerns, which is aligned with their long history of anti-wind advocacy.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1527/rr/572780

  6. Chettina Bradley says:

    There should be a universal planning regulation for building wind farms. At the moment each council set their own guidance which differs drastically ( 2km Lincolnshire to 350m Northern Ireland).
    Health concerns are not taken into consideration when considering the site of these wind farms. The government should take note before its too late and the health of the nation is damaged. It will be too late to say I told you so when our health is damaged. The government should halt all applications for wind farms throughout UK and Northern Ireland until more research is carried out to prove these farms have no adverse effects or criteria is put in place to minimise these adverse effects.

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