Letter sent to the Scottish Government Energy Minister 13/12/19.

Fairlie Community Council

Letter sent to the Scottish Government Energy Minister 13/12/19.

Re. Concerns about proposals for larger wind turbines to be located within less than 10km distance from people.

Dear Paul Wheelhouse,  please find below information which is relevant and extremely important to any proposed plans for new industrial wind turbine installations and replacement of currently operating smaller-sized wind turbines with larger and more powerful ones.

Introduction:

Industrial wind turbines produce an intermittent flow of electricity, but in the process, also produce noise emissions, which when installed too close to people`s homes, cause `environmental noise pollution` and  ` harm to health`, which is a `violation of ARTICLE 8 of the Human Rights Act`. 

For the `more acutely affected suffers`, it is a `violation of our Right to Life`.

Although acousticians and engineers working for the wind industry, assert that audible noise and low frequency noise from wind turbines, are unlikely to cause health effects, physicians and experts in Biomedical Research, in particular in the UK, Germany, France, Finland, Canada, Denmark, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Portugal, among others, have drawn different conclusions.                                                                                   

Indeed, in 2006, the French Academy of Medicine issued a report which concludes:                                

“ The harmful effects of sound-related wind turbines are insufficiently assessed. People living near towers, the height of which vary, complain of functional disturbances, similar to those in syndromes of sonic sound trauma. The sounds emitted by the blades, being low frequency which, therefore, travel easily and according to the wind, constitute a permanent risk for the people exposed to them.”

In 1999, companies were installing 0.6 megawatt wind turbines and wind farms were comprising only 2 or 3 wind turbines.

In 2002, they were installing 1.3 megawatt wind turbines and similarly, wind farms only comprised 2 or 3 wind turbines. 

The proposed Rigghill wind turbines were originally to have been 2.3 megawatt. 

We have recently been told that, at Rigghill,  they will be 4.2 megawatt and that there will be 10 of them.

We ask that both the Scottish Government and North Ayrshire Council give urgent consideration to the information below and take immediate action to ` increase setback distances` in consideration of larger wind turbines and  indeed, whether we should have them at all, other than in very remote areas or many miles out at sea. 

Background:

UK and international health Professionals, Scientists and Engineers all agree that complaints of adverse health impacts from those living close to wind turbines, (usually installed by developers and companies who have said, “will be no noise and no adverse health impacts”) continue to grow.

These involve both audible and inaudible noise, including low 

frequency noise and inaudible noise below 20 hertz, known as

infrasound. Both audible and inaudible low frequency noise can cause immediate  adverse health effects at sound levels which may not be audible. These effects can be very serious and 

irreversible if the noise continues and is prolonged over months and years.

Complaints of severe sleep deprivation, severe chronic stress, and disabling vestibular dysfunction symptoms (dizziness , vertigo etc.) abound with problems varying from site to site depending upon local topography, height and number of 

turbines, inter turbine distances and the distance between turbines and homes. The common thread to the reported symptoms (known as “noise annoyance”), is the activation of the startle reflex, which can be triggered by acoustic, vestibular and tactile stimuli – which if activated together can have a synergistic effect.

It needs to be stated that the World Health Organisation definition of “annoyance”  is stated as, “annoyance in this context is used in the sense of causing stress sufficient to cause concern for health, not simply irritation.”

See WHO Guidelines 2009 Appendix A

To argue that the sleep disturbance, physiological stress and vestibular dysfunction symptoms and their long term adverse health consequences do not exist, or are caused by

scaremongering, is misleading. It is neither scientifically correct nor ethical. This is particularly the  case with regard to the statutory responsibilities of Local Authorities and both Holyrood and Westminster Governments and also the responsibilities of medical and acoustic professionals, in view of both their training and their respective professional obligations, to protect the health and safety of the public.                                                                

Indeed, Dr Colin Ramsay of Health Protection Scotland has, himself, raised concerns about the power-rating of larger wind turbines. He cites the research of Moller H and Pederson CS 2011. “Low Frequency Noise from Large Wind turbines”, in the Journal of the Acoustic Society 129.

This study investigated the relationship between the size and power of the wind turbines and their emitted sound power. Based upon data for turbines rated 2.3 to 3.6 megawatt.

“The spectrum of wind turbine noise moves down in frequency with increasing turbine size and that problems with low frequency noise will increase with larger wind turbines.”

The essential point being is just how much power, rather than perceived loudness, is in the 1-20 hertz frequency wave band.

The `harm to health` is in the radiated acoustic field of these very low frequencies often below the `Threshold of Hearing `.

There is now overwhelming evidence that negative health effects of industrial wind turbines: sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment, mental health and well-being, as well as cardiovascular disease, hearing impairment, tinnitus, and adverse birth outcomes are continuing to present and indeed and increasing.

UK medic, Dr. Christopher D. Hanning Bsc MCRS MRCP MB FRCA MD,  Honorary Consultant in Sleep Medicine at the University of Leicester Hospitals, highlighted in his article in the 2014 issue of  the British Medical Journal, amongst other warnings, the particular sleep deprivation dangers to children..

 “Sleep disturbance may be a particular problem in children, and it may have important implications for public health .

When seeking to generate renewable energy through wind, governments must ensure that the public will not suffer harm from additional ambient noise.”                                                              

Issues: 

The current guideline on separation distance is based on ETSU-R-97 and is manifestly out of date.  It is only relevant to the small wind turbines of that era. 

The vastly increased scale of today`s wind turbines, means that the current recommendation on turbine separation is grossly inadequate.

The German Medical Assembly, meeting in Frankfurt, in 2016, called on the German Government to conduct urgent scientific 

research into reported noise issues. Since then Germany`s medics have called for a “moratorium on wind farms”. Denmark has “called a halt on further Planning permissions” and Australia has ruled that “Low frequency noise and Infrasound from wind turbines, is a plausible pathway to disease, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease.”

It is crucial to stress  the wind turbine`s specific noise character.

It is already known that the so called `annoyance` level at 40dBA from wind farms is comparable to 55dBA from traffic noise and this has recently been attributed in part to amplitude modulation by experienced acousticians such as Professor Geoff Leventhal (UK), Dr Paul Schomer (USA, former Director of Acoustic Standards) and Steven Cooper (Australia). 

Indeed, Dr Schomer also states, “…literature and case studies all over the world, evidence that people are leaving their homes because they are being exposed to significant levels of pulsating, ultra-low frequency sound produced by wind turbines. In addition, there is no question that large turbines produce more infrasound below 1 Hertz, which increases the likelihood that health problems will occur unless noise limits are dramatically reduced through use of smaller turbines.”                                                        

Wind turbine noise emissions comprise a number of features including a complex and vibrant sound mix, cylindrical sound propagation and refraction from the high levels, distinct peaks at the blade pass frequency, high proportion of infrasound and low frequency noise, and the sharp noise level in quiet areas especially during nights and cold seasons. It highlights strongly that wind power sound has a very characteristic sound profile, and that this must be, specifically, considered.

Dr Mariana Alves Pereira of the Lusofona University in  Portugal has been researching vibroacoustic disease since 1980 initially focussed on the low frequency noise (LFN), that impacted aeronautical technicians in the Portugese Air Force. Late in 2013, she presented a case study from Portugal where a family had been exposed for seven years to LFN caused by the operation of nearby wind turbines. Testing showed the increase in LFN inside the home was associated with turbine operation. Medical tests showed the people who were living inside the home had impaired brain function in relation to stimuli as well as their control of breathing. The syndrome is known as Vibro-Acoustic Disorder.

The 1999 World Health Organisation  `Community Noise` Guidelines state “It should be noted that a large proportion of low frequency component in a noise, may increase considerably, the adverse effects on health.”

See also in the same 1999 WHO document

“The World Health Organisation advise that, effects due to low frequency components in noise are estimated to be more severe than for community noises in general. The evidence on low frequency noise is sufficiently strong to warrant immediate concern.”

Recommendations:

(i) That the Energy Minister and North Ayrshire Council note that the proposals for the installation of wind turbines at the Rigghill site in Skelmorlie are (a) 10 x 4.2 megawatt turbines, (were originally going to be 2.3megawatt) and (b) the proposed `set back` distance is only 1.5km from people.

In 2017- 2018 folk were very badly impacted by wind turbines operating at 3.5megawatt at a distance of 2.5km.

Internationally acclaimed, `top of the tree` UK Scientists and Medics including UK icon Dr Christopher D Hanning BSc MRCS MRCP MB BS FRCA MD Honorary consultant in Sleep Medicine, University Hospitals Leicester state that, “The weight of epidemiological evidence is conclusive, in that wind turbine noise adversely effects health at distances of at least 1.5kilometres” and this for smaller, much less powerful wind turbines. In 2017, people were negatively impacted at 8 kilometres distant (at north end of Largs) by wind turbines operating at 3.5megawatt  at Hunterston. When in `full knowledge`, (they were told at the time of the application that there would be “no problem”), of the devastating impact upon residents across Fairlie, Cumbrae and Largs our wonderful councillors voted, that the wind turbines should be dismantled and removed.

Dr Christopher Hanning`s expertise, with regard to adverse health effects from wind turbines, has been accepted by civil

Criminal and family courts. He has been accepted as an expert regarding adverse health effects from wind turbine noise by the Ontario High Court and Environmental Review Tribunal and at Planning inquiries in the UK, Canada and Ireland. He has given evidence on the harmful effects from wind turbine noise to the Irish Parliament and the Australian Senate.                                                             

(ii) The Scottish Government and the Local Authority as Statutory Planning Authority must, immediately, require much greater `set back distances` for larger wind turbines, to ensure there is no negative impact upon health.

We simply cannot allow larger and more powerful wind turbines, unless the set back distance is, considerably, increased.

The CEO of VESTAS the company who produce these wind turbines states, “Turbines send out ILFN, (infrasound low frequency noise), the bigger they are the more intensely they do so. It isn`t technically possible to curtail the ILFN output.”

Conclusion:

In conclusion, we stand in solidarity with those suffering severe, long-term adverse health effects and increasingly irreversible damage to organs and tissue, across our planet , from wind turbines, as stated in the now very substantial, if not overwhelming peer reviewed research of the highest quality and integrity. The World Health Organisation is, itself, now saying that the cumulative adverse health effects from noise and vibration, are as much a `hazard to health` as air pollution.

The Scottish Government are, themselves, acknowledging this in communications. Indeed, at the frequencies, (both audible and inaudible), which larger turbines emit, they can cause death more quickly.

We seek to represent our Communities, ourselves , our families, friends and neighbours across Fairlie , Cumbrae, Largs , West Kilbride and Skelmorlie. The absolutely devastating impact upon increasing numbers of residents, in 2016 – 2018 will never be forgotten. Months and months of sleep deprivation, immediate impact of severe headache, acute pain in ears, chest pain and heart palpitations, dizziness, vertigo and nausea. As time went 

on peoples symptoms worsened and many people were `near collapse` when these machines were turning. Some, actually, did collapse and paramedics were called, who assessed as requiring hospitalisation. Others experienced equally frightening hearing loss and some found that they could not even speak or breathe properly.

There are increasing numbers of people, including UK and international legislators, arguing that, until we have effective regulation of these very dangerous low frequencies and infrasound, that further installation of larger wind turbines should be halted.

With regard to Burcote`s current `Pre Application Notification¬ to North Ayrshire Council, we consider it morally indefensible that, “Community Benefit” was dangled  `like a carrot` at the outset, before even details about number, size or power of the turbines were given to the communities. It is at best `misleading` for Burcote representatives to say that, “There is no harm to health from infrasound from wind turbines.” This has been stated vehemently by them at public meetings. We are investigating the `Criminal Code` which exists in other countries, whereby, it is a `criminal offence` for Governments, other Public Bodies and Companies, to state this, in context of `harm to health`, when is incorrect.

Finally, we draw your attention, once again, to the fact that the 6 and 7.2 megawatt wind turbines, which after delays in construction were, temporarily, installed at Hunterston , never, “Thank God”, operated at `full power`. The residents who were so very badly impacted, truly believe this would have killed them. These very severe, and acute for some, adverse health effects , already listed here, which folk were experiencing with no `let up`, were when these machines were operating at 3.5 megawatt. When, briefly, increased to 4 megawatt people were collapsing….! There were only two of these turbines.                                                                

We hope that you will carefully consider the points made in this letter and that the Scottish Government will give these issues the urgent attention needed and put in place effective measures that will safeguard against any further harm.