Speech for the Falmouth Rally 27th February, 2016
“That fundamental human right to the best possible health specified in most United Nations Human Rights instruments, is not possible if people cannot sleep.”
Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to your rally.
I first wish to pay tribute to the long suffering residents of Falmouth USA, who lived or are still living near the wind turbines owned by the town. These people have made an incredible contribution to our knowledge of wind turbine acoustics, wind turbine adverse health impacts, and have shown true human courage and compassion for others in a similar situation – both in their own country and further afield. We owe them, their acoustics and health professionals, and their supporters, a great debt of gratitude.
Their lived experiences, which are now very much in the public domain, in part because of their determination to fight for their legal and human rights, are a window on the incredible suffering which excessive intrusive wind turbine noise can cause. These people are just like you and me but have had to suffer intolerably and disgracefully because of gross government regulatory failure and corporate bastardry, deceit and greed.
They are simply trying to live their lives, free from the devastating adverse health effects resulting from what can only be described as an invasion of their home, resulting in acoustic trespass and noise nuisance, from pulsing infrasound and low frequency noise. These frequencies have been known to be harmful for over thirty years since the seminal research work by Dr Neil Kelley and his team from NASA and other research organisations.
Wind turbines are of course not the only source of this damaging sound energy, but once someone is sensitised, their body and brain don’t care what the source of the pulsing sound is – it is going to react anyway, at ever decreasing doses, until or unless they can remove themselves from that exposure. The only two options are turn off the noise OR move away.
It is not humanly possible to go for long without good quality sleep and remain unharmed and as you all probably know, sleep deprivation from repeated sleep disturbance is the commonest problem reported by most residents living near industrial wind power facilities. This inevitably results in exhaustion, and consequently serious and predictable adverse physical and mental health effects.
The Centre for Disease Control in America has recently stated the obvious - that insufficient sleep is a public health problem. Their website states the following:
“Sleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.(1) Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding off while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks because of sleepiness all may contribute to these hazardous outcomes. Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.”(1)
So why are the most commonly reported symptoms of wind turbine neighbours, ignored by the American Health Authorities? Where are the public health physicians?
Why has there not yet been even one detailed case study of one person, anywhere in the world, examining the full spectrum of acoustic exposures overnight, together with concurrent sleep study EEG and continuous heart rate monitoring?
The Waubra Foundation has been calling for this precise research for the last five years.
As you all no doubt know, US Acousticians Rob Rand and Steve Ambrose conducted the wonderful initial acoustic investigation in Falmouth, USA funded by the generosity of Bruce McPherson, which provided vitally important clues about the causes of the symptoms. This study is still of global importance, and is something which Falmouth residents should be very proud of.
Other acoustic investigators have followed, and made other significant contributions.
But where are the medical and public health investigators? They seem to be in hiding; either ignoring important research evidence in the case of Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council “expert panel” with members who had documented conflicts of interest, or in the case of Health Canada, deliberately choosing study designs which do not directly investigate the problems in the best possible way. For example any doctor knows that you do not make clinical judgements about someone’s blood pressure with a single once off measurement, yet that is what this Health Canada team did – with no concurrent measurement of the acoustic exposure at the time. You must repeat the measurement. This is junk science, and Health Canada know it, and are trying to hide it by dribbling the study results out slowly and in small “bites”, restricting access to the raw data and other results, making it very difficult for others to critically evaluate their results.
I applaud Falmouth Psychiatrist Dr William Hallstein for his professional integrity, courage, and honesty – advocating so strongly for his patients, to whom he owes a professional and ethical duty of care, which he clearly takes seriously. Others need to follow his example.
I also applaud Dr Nina Pierpont for her research, and her courage and integrity, and her work with Falmouth residents, helping them expose their stories to the public.
But where are their colleagues? Why the silence?
The silence of too many professionals, or indeed even active collusion with noise polluters to hide or ignore the evidence of serious harm, has allowed this serious abuse of the legal and human rights of residents in Falmouth, and indeed all over the world, to occur, and to continue.
But why are the public servants responsible for environmental health, planning and noise pollution regulation, seemingly so complicit with the harmful abuse of the rights of citizens?
Is it ignorance or incompetence?
Is it pure corruption?
Is it regulatory capture?
Is it ideological zealotry – an attitude that leads to the concept that people who are noise impacted from wind turbine noise are somehow acceptable “collateral damage”.
Is it fear of being ridiculed or ostracized by colleagues?
I am very glad that you are showing such open and public support for the impacted Falmouth residents today, and I join with you in demanding immediate change before any more damage is done to vulnerable citizens.
There must be full spectrum acoustic measurements inside and outside people’s homes, with the complete cooperation of the wind turbine operators so that on off testing can be performed to determine the true contribution of the wind turbines to the soundscape, and so the symptom triggers can be properly identified.
If the turbines are disturbing sleep, they must be turned off at night.
If health is being adversely impacted, there needs to be a resolution – two alternatives being property buy outs with compensation for nuisance, or wind turbines being deconstructed and removed. There are precedents for both.
Planning regulations and siting decisions must in future taken notice of empirical acoustic and health data and ensure there is sufficient buffer zone in order to protect people.
It's time people’s health, and their human rights are properly protected – in particular the right to attain the best possible physical and mental health.
That fundamental human right to the best possible health specified in most United Nations Human Rights instruments, is not possible if people cannot sleep.
Sarah Laurie, CEO Waubra FoundationDownload the speech