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« Lou's wind problem | Main | ATI statement on UVa FOI case »

You civil servants care for you

This correspondence between a member of the public and Defra comes via the Countryside Guardian email newsletter.

From: Dr T****
To: noise <>
Sent: Tue, 17 Jan 2012 16:18
Subject: Wind turbine noise

Dear Sirs
I would be most grateful if you would let me know to what extent your Department has had discussions with independent ( ie not Government or wind industry funded) medically qualified experts on the environmental health problems associated with the installation of wind turbines near homes. My literature researches identify a number of  truly independent medical experts who express very real concerns at the adverse noise effects on resident health and especially from the low frequency component of the turbine noise.. These professional medical findings confirm the large and growing amount of anecdotal reports on the worrying health impacts on some people living near wind farms.
Surprisingly, I gather from discussions with the Department of Health, that it is not responsible for such health issues and indicated that I should contact DEFRA.
As you will know, because of these concerns, there is an increasing belief that wind turbines should be placed well away from residences (the purpose of a bill currently going through the House of Lords) - a view also expressed by many  experts and organisations.
Yours sincerely
Dr T***


From: ccu.correspondence <>
To: Dr T****
Sent: Mon, 13 Feb 2012 18:10
Subject: Response to your Query :  - Ref:DWOE000260753 - wind Turbine noise

Dear Dr T****,

Thank you for your email 17 January about wind turbine noise. I have been asked to reply.

We have had no discussions with medically qualified experts on this specific issue but we are aware of the concerns expressed and monitor the debate. We continue to work closely with other relevant Government departments on the question of wind turbines.

Yours sincerely,

Customer Contact Unit

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Reader Comments (18)

So it took them three weeks to come up with a dismissive two sentence reply. Dr T should count himself lucky to get such traitement superbe from a govt. department.

Sep 18, 2012 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Crawford

Ironic that in the training that the UK and EU governments force me to do for my job, to a standard syllabus determined by an organisation run by European governments, I have to learn about the negative health implications of very low frequency (sub-20-Hz) sounds. So they cannot dispute that these health effects are real and accepted by European government bodies, including the UK.

Sep 18, 2012 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoubting Rich

Hey DEFRA here is a starting point for you that even I a non expert can understand, do all Humans hear in the same range or can some humans hear lower frequencies than others?

I have some expertise in this field and it only took me losing an eye to find out how brilliant human hearing can be.

They'll have to take their fingers out their ears first and stop with the incessant 'La, La, La' noise.

Sep 18, 2012 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

Where is health&safety when we need it

Sep 18, 2012 at 3:49 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Shevva writes "They'll have to take their fingers out their ears first and stop with the incessant 'La, La, La' noise."

It is strange but when I am near a Wind turbine I do, in fact, hear la-la-la-la-... as each turbine blade passes overhead. ;o)

Sep 18, 2012 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Melle

"We have had no discussions with medically qualified experts"

In case they confirmed there was a problem, presumably.

Sep 18, 2012 at 5:35 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"We continue to work closely with other relevant Government departments on the question of wind turbines. "

Well that will be a first! I always thought it was incumbent upon all Guvment departments to conduct a minimum amount of interdepartmental communication, or preferably not have any altogether! That way the Buck can always be passed on to another Guvment department & jobs/pensions remain safe!

Sep 18, 2012 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

So why does defra have an email address ?

Sep 18, 2012 at 5:53 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

This link is informative

Quick summary
Wind Turbines are a recognised source of infrasound
There is a general lack of high quality research the biological effects of long term exposure to low intensity infrasound.
Health effects associated with infrasound are not well understood.

So, presumably, as with Climate Change, we should employ the "precautionary principle"?!

Sep 18, 2012 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Is there a link to the original source ? The dates are in February and it takes until September for it to be emailed as a newsletter ? Obviously a priority then.

Sep 18, 2012 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

"We have had no discussions with medically qualified experts on this specific issue " -
Customer Contact Unit.

Perhaps "we" refers to the "Customer Contact Unit".

Sep 18, 2012 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterSleepalot

Well if one was to get legal here, since 2004 plans and programmes which lead to the future development consent of projects subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment procedures, namely wind farms, must be subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment (Directive 2001/42/EC).

One can read in Annex I below the comprehensive environmental report, which has to be prepared, then followed by a detailed public consultation, taking due account of the public consultation in the final decision and then and only then adoption by the authorities. Annex I is a good read in that the impacts on such issues as population and human health have to be assessed, followed by identification and implementation of appropriate mitigation measures. Then in Article 10 of the Directive one has to monitor the implementation of the programme, in particular for unforeseen adverse effects.

No doubt the wonderful guide from the UK authorities on completing all of this will elobrate further, a quick look reveals that 'noise' and 'Defra' seems to crop up together quite a bit.

So what exactly did happen? Well the UK Renewable Energy Strategy and the National Renewable Energy Action Plan were adopted without consideration of any environmental impacts. Which was more than illegal given they had by-passed the necessary procedures in environmental assessment and democratic accountabity, which were mandatory to be completed before such a programme could be adopted.

Then there was a Strategic Environmental Assessment completed in association with the consultation some several months later. See below:

One can see in Section 3.5 how much care and attention was given to Health and Well Being:

*"Noise generated as a result of energy infrastructure development can generally be mitigated through the design and planning process and is not considered significant in the short, medium or long term".

In Section 5.1 on monitoring it is stated:

*"It is proposed that the effects that should be monitored overall for the energy NPSs are focused on the positive effects predicted for climate change, resources, and economy/skills; and the negative or uncertain effects predicted for landscape/visual amenity and biodiversity".

One can only wonder what DECC are up to; they can't even produce any verified emissions data on what the programme has actually achieved, while they have their head in the sand over the considerable noise impact they have inflicted on many in society.

Clearly, this was a special programme, where the rule of law didn't apply, not to mention the 'principle of proceeding with due care and consideration'.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if these people were up in Court, where they would have to explain to the Judge, that they are on a 'mission to save the planet', so of course they have total exemption to normal legal and moral rules.

Sep 18, 2012 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

Do they have these windmills in Africa?
What would the elephants say about that?

Sep 18, 2012 at 11:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

From Yes, Minister

Jim: What's an official reply?
Bernard: Well it just says the Minister has asked me to thank you for your letter and we say something like, the matter is under consideration, or even if we feel so inclined, under active consideration.
Jim: What's the difference?
Bernard: Well under consideration means we've lost the file, under active consideration means we're trying to find it.

Sep 19, 2012 at 3:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Heyworth

9 Hz causes damage to internal organs in susceptible people. I knew this in the 1960s.

The key to the problem is internal resonances in buildings. We once did an experiment in the Queen's tower at Imperial College which has that resonant frequency. What you need is a windmill and a dwelling with large rooms and it can kill if you spend your time at one of the nodes.

Sep 19, 2012 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

But I thought that the Deputy Head of RenewablesUK (who's surname escapes me - Maf Something) stated that 'wind turbines make no noise - you can stand underneath them and hear nothing..' - or words to that effect...
Perhaps it is worth reminding everyone in the 'wind industry' - and, come to that, any planning officials minded to approve wind farms, that they have a Duty Of Care to the general public...

Sep 19, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Fortunately I don't live near any wind turbines, however I live close enough to other machinery from which noise travels several kilometres.
I think that a good guideline should be that anyone who was living within 5 kilometres of a wind turbine before it was built should be compensated enough to sell up their property without making a loss.
Please will all wind turbine engineers add that to your costings of whether your turbine is a viable commercial proposition.

Sep 20, 2012 at 5:16 AM | Unregistered Commenterjaymam

"Fancy, saying windmills blight people's lives - honestly how could they say that about these wonderfully expensive and marvellous machines - some people don't live in the REAL world."

Ah - 'Defra world',

Is very much like BBC world, where everything is fluffy and super, the world 'defo' owes you a living and by God you seize it, super! And with a massive pension thrown in too - nothing is allowed to spoil fluffy world............. except sometimes real people do but with censorship and innumerous lies and half truths laid on thick by government spinmeisters and with the media in the pockets of the propagandists and EU machinery - it's usually OK, the big fluffy ship sails serenely on its way.

The only bad thing to bring dark clouds to fluffy land and they are such nasty things; like thinking about 'outsider' people and their awful, horrid REAL lives. Of course this is so very difficult for people who live in fluffy land, they just aren't able to understand in these institutions, how people in the outside world; disbelieve in CAGW, worse, dislike things like windmills and solar panels, diversity, PC and gay marriage for all, mass immigration, "the EU cares for you" etc.

Two worlds one country and never the twain shall meet.

Sep 20, 2012 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

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