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Report on 'Adverse impacts from wind turbines in Australia'
Two renowned American healthcare experts with over 30 years experience, travelled to, researched and report on the adverse affects of Australian windfarms at Waubra, Victoria.
Below details the impacts on:-
- Physically ill symptoms
- loss of community
- dazed animals
- views & aesthetics
- people's life goals
- property values
- how wind energy company responded to complaints
(Below we give the whole report but if you don't have time to read it all, we have highlighted the sections dealing with the human health issues.)
Green & Ribnick "Adverse impacts from wind turbines in Australia"
We have spent almost one year attempting to understand the complexities of wind
energy. We have researched the potential benefits and acknowledged deficiencies of
industrial wind turbines. We have tried to educate citizens on Cape Cod and in
Massachusetts about industrial wind energy. We have tried to foster public debate,
through the formation of a Cape-wide group that has sponsored public presentations by
relevant experts and has disseminated technical engineering reports, clinical medical
research on adverse impacts, detailed acoustic studies of the special characteristics of
wind turbine noise, relevant environmental information and numerous news reports and
first-person testimonials from around the world to local, state and regional governments
and agencies and to the general public.
Now after traveling to Australia and meeting with and interviewing dozens of people who
have been profoundly adversely impacted by industrial wind turbines or are fighting the
construction of wind turbines in their communities, we now understand with certainty
that the very dramatic and real problems with wind energy are much, much worse than
we had previously imagined.
What follows is a preliminary summary of our visit in Australia.
We spent the afternoon of Jan 9th 2011 with the leaders of a country-wide organization called
the Australian Landscape Guardians. They explained what is happening throughout
Australia concerning the siting of industrial wind turbines. They told us that the
government of Victoria, Australia is currently formulating a new policy which requires a
minimum setback for all new wind turbine projects of 2 km (1.24 miles). They also
informed us that the new policy includes the provision that no wind turbines can be built
in National Parks, State Parks, or certain areas determined as scenic in character.
Later in the day we met Sarah Laurie, MD, Medical Director of the Waubra Foundation,
who arranged this amazing journey for us. We spent time with her and she explained
her work to us, which is to gather information from affected residents in order to
encourage researchers to conduct appropriate independent research, to lobby for
funding for such research, and to provide information and support to people who have
been adversely impacted by the turbines.
That night we had dinner with a group of residents in a rural area that have organized to
fight several large wind developments in their communities. They requested that we
describe what has been happening on Cape Cod and in MA.
The following day, on Jan 10th 2011, we spent conducting interviews with some of the
nicest and hardest working people we have ever met. Their stories are so
incredible, emotional, and, ultimately so profound that we wanted to share our
initial observations with you. We interviewed 17 people who have been adversely
impacted from a health standpoint.
We also interviewed a very courageous journalist who tells the stories of those in the
Waubra area who are adversely impacted by industrial wind turbines.
ONGOING RESEARCH CONCERNING ADVERSE HEALTH IMPACTS TO THOSE
LIVING TOO CLOSE TO INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES
• Sarah Laurie, MD has been meeting with the victims of the Waubra wind power
plant to gather information about their symptoms and illnesses, and to help provide
information about the current knowledge of the health effects of wind turbines on
human health to their General Practitioners and other doctors involved in their
care. As part of her work, she has requested the victims keep track of their blood
pressures throughout each day to investigate the impact of the turbines on their
blood pressure. Her preliminary findings indicate that a number of the victims are
experiencing dangerously elevated blood pressure since the turbines became
operational, which go back down to normal levels when they are away from the
turbines. Victims are tracking their blood pressure readings, and there are plans to
do comprehensive investigations using 24-hour Holter Monitors, as this is the best
way to measure what is going on. Some of the victims have been placed on blood
pressure medications. Dr. Laurie is concerned because elevated blood pressure in
the morning is an indicator of increased risk for heart attack and stroke. She has
learned of several people who had normal blood pressure readings prior to the
wind turbines being constructed who have now developed high blood pressure, or
have had heart attacks and strokes since the turbines commenced operating.
There has been one death so far due to stroke. She wants these incidents further
investigated, to see if there is any connection with turbine operation when these
people developed symptoms.
• Dr. Laurie also feels that it is important to investigate the impact of long-term
exposure to industrial wind turbines and health. Some who have lived in the
Waubra area, and are now industrial wind turbine development refugees due to
adverse health impacts, have found that some of their symptoms have not gone
away after permanently leaving their homes near the turbines. These people report
that initially, during the first months of living near the wind turbines, their physical
symptoms went away when they left the Waubra area for even a matter of hours.
Several people we spoke with are concerned their health problems may be
permanent. Again, these people had no problems prior to the wind turbine
• Some of the people living within 5 km of the wind turbines at Waubra experience
what was called upper lip quiver. Two of the people we interviewed talked about
this. When the wind turbine infrasound is intense, people experience a sensation in
their upper lip that they can not control. Their upper lip vibrates and this twitching
vibration can be seen by others. The sensation is disturbing to the people
experiencing this not only because the vibration is extremely uncomfortable, but
the loss of control of their own body is alarming. Dr. Laurie is gathering data on the
incidence of this symptom, as it appears to be highly specific with wind turbine
operation. It has been reported in residents who live up to 10km adjacent to two
wind developments elsewhere in Australia. She is concerned that if these
symptoms are being noted at this distance, that there may be other effects on
people such as elevated blood pressures, which may go undiagnosed.
• Several people living within 5 km of the wind turbines have experienced a
sensation where they have woken up at night with a feeling that their heart was
about to leap out of their body. Their pulse was alarmingly high. This has happened
on several occasions for each of the people we spoke with who described this
symptom. Dr. Laurie is gathering data that residents are noting in their personal
health journals. She is also working to encourage further research in an attempt to
find out more about this phenomena.
• A local Sleep Physician has agreed to carry out further research, as he is
concerned about the effect the turbines are having on the health of his patients, in
particular their disrupted sleep. Sleep deprivation is a major issue for the people
1. SETTING THE STAGE:
• Waubra and surrounding small towns are agricultural areas in a truly beautiful
landscape of rolling hills and valleys. Many of the residents have lived in the area
for many generations. Farming operations include sheep, cattle and various crops.
Farming is a major source of revenue in the Waubra area. The farmers we spoke
with are very concerned about the environment. Many of them use organic farming
methods and all practice energy conservation. Waubra is located approximately
100 km from Melbourne.
• The people interviewed described their community life as very positive prior to the
Waubra industrial wind turbine power plant development called a ‘wind farm’.
(They know farming and stated that the 128 wind turbines have nothing to do with
farming. They call this development a wind power plant.) Parents stated the
schools were very good and felt their children received good educations. Family
life is very important to the people we interviewed.
• Many of the victims we interviewed were older parents. Many of their grown
children who work on the farms planned to take over the family farms as their
• Much of south eastern Australia, including Waubra, has experienced 15
consecutive years of drought. This is very important as it had a significant impact
on the development of the wind power plant.
• The Australian government, like the U.S., has placed a major emphasis on
developing and deploying renewable sources of energy, especially wind energy.
As in the U.S., Australia has set a target of 20% of its energy to come from renewal
sources by 2020. The government provides generous subsidies and tax breaks to
wind energy developers.
• The initial wind energy developer, Wind Power, began the process in 2003/2004.
An application for a Planning Permit was submitted in 2005. The people we
interviewed stated that the initial presentations were long on lofty claims and very
short on facts. Some of the people we interviewed attended informational
meetings and stated that the presenters claimed there were no problems with
noise. The salesmen stated that the turbines sounded like leaves blowing in the
wind or a stream – similar to claims we have heard in the United States that wind
turbine noise is “no louder than a babbling brook, a refrigerator or a quiet
• Here is where the prolonged drought played an important role. Many farmers,
especially smaller land holders, had suffered financially and they felt the wind
turbine lease payments represented a life-line to help them through the difficult
drought. So many signed up. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE: some of the residents
that did not sign up had reservations about the wind ‘farm’, but they did not raise
their concerns because they were told by the salesmen that there were no
problems and they did not want to interfere with their neighbors earning muchneeded
money from leasing their land to the wind energy developers. Their
considerations for their neighbors would take a tragic turn following the
construction of the wind energy power plant.
• Construction of the Waubra wind energy power plant occurred in stages and by
June 2009 was fully operational. There are 128 industrial wind turbines covering an
area of approximately 173 square kilometres.
• Many of the residents we interviewed, and presumably the people who leased their
land, were shocked by the size and placement of the turbines following the
construction. We were told that many residents felt lied to due to the actual size
and placement of the wind turbines.
2. WHAT WE OBSERVED:
• All of the residents we interviewed have suffered a profound impact on their health,
their relationships with family and their community, their confidence in elected
officials, their financial condition and property value, and their life plans and future.
They all feel betrayed and they are extremely angry. Here are the reasons why:
• All of the people we interviewed are sick -- very PHYSICALLY ILL, as
confirmed by a medical doctor, and in many cases by their family physicians.
Their symptoms track with the symptoms we have heard experienced by the
victims in Falmouth, MA; Vinalhaven, Maine; and many other communities globally.
It was abundantly clear from these interviews, which we videotaped, that the
suffering of the people has been severe. They report severe headaches, eye pain,
difficulty sleeping, emotional distress, racing hearts, dangerously high blood
pressure, ringing in their ears, panic attacks, feelings of hopelessness, inability to
concentrate, and inability to find simple words when speaking. Children are
experiencing the same symptoms as their parents. The parents we interviewed
reported that their children’s performance in school has radically declined since the
wind plant began operation. Many we interviewed are under the care of physicians
and take medication that they did not take prior to the wind turbine development.
ALL THESE SYMPTOMS DEVELOPED AFTER THE TURBINES BEGAN TO
OPERATE. It bears noting that the residents we interviewed, many of whom are
farmers, were all healthy and hearty people who had spent their entire lives
working outdoors. They are proud, and solid citizens. THEY ARE NOT
COMPLAINERS...JUST THE OPPOSITE. Nonetheless, they can not ignore, nor
overcome, their persistent symptoms that began to affect them, to threaten their
health, and to disrupt their lives, since the arrival of the wind plant to their
• REASON FOR A RED CODE ALERT: Many of the people we interviewed lived
from 3 km to 10 km from the turbines. A two km (1.24 mile) setback at this
wind power plant location would not have helped most of these people.
• We were told by several that it is worse inside their home than outside because
their window jambs rattle and parts of their homes vibrate.
• All the people we interviewed used similar descriptions when explaining their
symptoms. They all describe feeling ‘pressure’ on their chest, their heart, their
head, their ears and their eyes. Some have already declared themselves to be
‘INDUSTRIAL REFUGEES’ and have abandoned their beautiful and longcherished
homes. Others are considering leaving. Still others are determined not to
leave even though their health has declined dramatically. The despair of the
residents is evident as they describe this most difficult decision of whether to stay,
or to abandon their homes.
• We interviewed one resident who said that she is in such pain at times she thinks
that putting a bullet in her head would bring more relief than the pain she is
• Some of the people we interviewed told us they believe that many of their
neighbors who signed the leases and are hosting the turbines are suffering
physical adverse health symptoms as much as they are. They stated that the land
owners who signed the leases are prohibited from talking about their health
problems because of the gag-clauses in the leases.
• Those who have left their homes all report that their health problems have become
less severe when they are away from the wind power plant. Most state that when
they leave the Waubra area they feel better and that their blood pressure readings
return to normal levels. But, it is very important to note, that some of the symptoms
for some of the people have not gone away. Some are concerned their health
problems may be permanent. The physician we talked with shares their concern.
3. SENSE OF COMMUNITY:
• THIS IS A TRAGEDY OF MONUMENTAL PROPORTION. According to many
residents we interviewed, the Waubra area community, in their view, has
disintegrated. Five generations of citizens, many life-long friends, have become
adversaries. As we listened to the residents describe what has happened, we
were very sad to see the emotional toll it is taking on these fine people who highly
value the sense of community. One story told was that the local pub recently
closed because people no longer frequented the pub because they feared who
they might meet. We heard stories of violence, including an incident when one
victim publicly stated his health problems and neighbors (former life-long friends)
who leased land for the turbines sought revenge. Some residents told us that they
now drive to near-by towns to go to the grocery store or the Post Office because
they are verbally attacked in Waubra. One person stated it is their belief it will
likely take a generation -- after the turbines are removed -- before the social
healing can begin for their community.
4. IMPACT ON ANIMALS:
• The health of animals is naturally very important to farmers. Many of the residents
told us that the wind turbines had an adverse impact on their animals.
• One farmer described how he had to ‘put down’ a blind sheep that had managed to
take care of herself until the turbines began operation. After the turbines started,
the sheep walked in circles and kept injuring herself walking into objects, so the
farmer euthanized her.
• Others stated their dogs who are normally quite calm ‘act up’ when the wind
turbines are loud from an audible standpoint and also when the infrasound is bad
(note that dogs and other animals have a wider range of audible hearing than
• When the wind farm commenced operation the usually very plentiful bats
disappeared. Recently a few have been sighted. Overall there has been a
decrease in the bat population.
5. IMPACT ON VIEW AND AESTHETICS OF RURAL ENVIRONMENT:
• The people we interviewed had all consciously chosen to live in the rural
countryside. As previously noted, many we interviewed have maintained family
farms in the area for multiple generations. Virtually all of them were heart sick at
the wholesale transformation of their environment and what they characterized as
the destruction of their land. Like many on Cape Cod who love the beauty of the
sea, the dunes, the vistas, and the rural character of the Cape, the people we
interviewed felt a profound sadness and loss regarding the industrialization of their
natural and cultural heritage and community.
• One person we interviewed stated she could see 64 turbines from her land. At
night the once tranquil vista now looks like an amusement park with dozens of red
blinking aviation warning lights atop the turbines.
• Many of the people living in the Waubra area have powerful telescopes that they
once used to enjoy the vast night sky in Australia. This was a popular hobby that
used to bring great pleasure to many here, but the people in the region can no
longer use their telescopes because the night sky is filled with pulsing red lights
from the wind turbines.
• One resident gave us a written diary containing a day-by-day account of the noise
emanating from the turbines and her observations of the adverse effects upon her
health. She also wrote about the beautiful sunsets and sunrises that were spoiled
by the flashing red lights – a record of observations which illustrates her love of her
natural environment and her sense of permanent loss.
• One of the industrial refugees said that everywhere she looked there was
movement. She couldn’t stand it physically. She has motion sickness and it made
her sick to her stomach and dizzy when she looked out of her windows. She
reported that she found it unbearable to go outdoors and work in her garden, one
of her favorite past times. In the Waubra area, every person we met had a beautiful
flower garden as well as vegetable garden. They all took great pride in their
• The Waubra area once was a rural, peaceful, serene location and it was evident to
us from the testimonials we heard, that the hearts and souls of the residents we
interviewed were tied to the land. They repeatedly described their rural location as
being ruined, and turned from a peaceful countryside into an industrial zone.
• As in many similar locations around the world, including Falmouth, MA and
Vinalhaven, Maine, most of the people we spoke with had supported the wind
turbine development until it became operational. They now described how sad they
were that their beautiful landscape is marred with the wind turbines. Some told us
that this is not a place people want to come visit since its former beauty, and its
sense of peace and tranquility, are now gone.
6. IMPACT ON LIFE GOALS:
• What can one say? The lives of many residents that we interviewed have been
completely upended, even shattered, as is evident from their videotaped accounts.
Like most people, they had a plan for their future. Many had taken for granted that
they would continue to work their land and pass the family farm to their children.
• One resident purchased a 300 acre farm in the Waubra area to grow organic
crops and livestock three years ago, about one year before the turbines began
operation. Now he can not work on areas of his farm because the pain he
experiences is too severe.
• Another family owns and farms a 4,000 acre property. When the wind developer
offered them lease payments for eight turbines and extra income for transmission
lines, they turned the offer down because they don’t need or want any outside
interests in their farm. They have now abandoned their beautiful home. During our
videotaped interview, the mother of young children became extremely emotional
when she described the decision to leave their family home and how that decision
impacted her children.
7. THE WIND ENERGY COMPANY RESPONDING TO COMPLAINTS
• According to the residents, it would appear that the general response to a
complaint by the Company is to (now, but not until continually requested) provide
an Incident Reference Number. Frequently people are told 'we will look into it' and
‘we will pass it to the relevant people'. Nothing happens. No investigation. When
people first began to complain they did not ask for a Reference number and they
felt that more than likely their complaints had not been registered.
• One resident who lives over 2 km from the nearest turbine, and who has made
numerous complaints, was told that no one was responding to his complaints
because he lived “too far” from the wind turbines.
8. PROPERTY VALUES:
• PLEASE KNOW THAT ANYONE WHO STATES THAT PROPERTY VALUES ARE
NOT IMPACTED BY WIND TURBINE DEVELOPMENT IS NOT TELLING THE
TRUTH. What has happened in the 18 months since the turbines began operation
illustrates an impact on property values. We were told the following: Seven
property owners have had properties purchased, so there are at least 7 properties,
but maybe up to 10 properties that have been purchased. 4 property owners were
involved pre-construction of the wind farm. 3 property owners have had properties
purchased after the wind farm commenced operation. The two most recent
properties to be purchased were because of noise. We were told by residents still
living in Waubra that one of the property owners was bought out because of visual
amenity even though she had been very outspoken in the media about her health
problems. (We were told that the wind developer does not purchase properties
based on health issues.)
• Further, some residents we spoke with report that there are more near-by
properties coming on the market all the time. Some said there are not interested
buyers in their area. One resident stated that she knows of a property that had
more than 100 interested people contact the real estate agent, but when they
found out the property was near the Waubra Wind Farm, not one prospective
buyer has visited the property. We have heard from property owners in the Waubra
area that real estate agents have said, if you can see the turbines it is very hard to
sell the property.
• Many of the people we spoke with are certain that property value has dramatically
declined, and some feel their properties can not be sold at any price.
• One person stated that the wind development has cost him $1,000,000 dollars in
lost property value and costs incurred since the wind power plant has come to his
Preston G. Ribnick and Lilli-Ann Green
Preston Ribnick is President and Lilli-Ann Green is CEO of a company in the United
States, Professional Resource Group (PRG) which was was established in 1979. The
company's core competencies include quality improvement, health care consulting and
market research. Both Preston and Lilli speak around the United States to health care
professionals on various topic related to quality improvement. PRG also develops
educational programs for the health care industry. Many PRG programs are widely
distributed in the U.S. and the audiences include physicians and nurses. PRG has
worked with over 160,000 health care professionals throughout the United States,
Canada and Puerto Rico since 1979. The main focus of PRG educational programs is
quality improvement. Many of the programs center around various disease states.