A provocative investigation claims thousands of people are falling sick because they live near them
8 September 2012
The symptoms they claim to have suffered may vary – including dizziness; increased blood pressure and depression – but the theme remains the same
It was Uplawmoor’s tranquillity and wild beauty that drew civil servant Aileen Jackson to settle there 28 years ago.
She’d had enough of life in the big city. Now she wanted somewhere quiet and rural to start a family, keep her horses, and enjoy the magnificent views down the valley and out to sea to the western Scottish isles of Arran and Ailsa Craig.
Then, two years ago, she says, it all turned sour.
A neighbour with whom she and her family had been friends decided to take advantage of the massive public subsidies for ‘renewable’ energy.
He put up a 64ft-high wind turbine which, though on his own land, stood just 300 yards from the Jackson family’s home.
The sleepless nights caused by its humming were only the start of their problems. Far worse was the impact on their health.
Aileen, a diabetic since the age of 19, found her blood glucose levels rocketing – forcing her to take more insulin and causing her to develop a cataract, she says.
Her younger son, Brian, an outgoing, happy, academically enthusiastic young man, suddenly became a depressive, stopped seeing his friends and dropped out of his studies at college.
Aileen’s husband William, who had always had low blood pressure, now found his blood pressure levels going ‘sky high’ – and has been on medication ever since.
So far so coincidental, you might say. And if you did, you would have the full and enthusiastic support of the wind industry.
Here is what the official trade body RenewableUK has to say on its website: ‘In over 25 years and with more than 68,000 machines installed around the world, no member of the public has ever been harmed by the normal operation of wind farms.’
But in order to believe that, you would have to discount the testimony of the thousands of people just like Aileen around the world who claim their health has been damaged by wind farms.
You would have to ignore the reports of doctors such as Australia’s Sarah Laurie, Canada’s Nina Pierpont and Britain’s Amanda Harry who have collated hundreds of such cases of Wind Turbine Syndrome.
And you’d have to reject the expertise of the acoustic engineers, sleep specialists, epidemiologists and physiologists who all testify that the noise generated by wind farms represents a major threat to public health.
‘If this were the nuclear industry, this is a scandal which would be on the front pages of every newspaper every day for months on end,’ says Chris Heaton-Harris, the Conservative MP for Daventry who has been leading the parliamentary revolt against wind farms, demanding that their subsidies be cut.
‘But because it’s wind it has been let off the hook. It shouldn’t be.’
Wind Turbine Syndrome. Until you’ve seen for yourself what it can do to a community, you might be tempted to dismiss it as a hypochondriac’s charter or an urban myth.
But the suffering I witnessed earlier this year in Waterloo, a hamlet outside Adelaide in southern Australia, was all too real.
The place felt like a ghost town: shuttered houses and a dust-blown aura of sinister unease, as in a horror movie where something terrible has happened to a previously thriving settlement but at first you’re not sure what.
Then you look to the horizon and see them, turning in the breeze…
‘The wind farm people said we’d be doing our bit to save the planet,’ said one resident.
‘They said these things were quieter than a fridge. They said it was all going to be fairy floss and candy.
‘So how come I can’t sleep in my own house any more? How come sometimes I’m having to take 15 Valium tablets a day? How come, when I used to be a pretty mellow sort of person, I’m now so angry it’s only a matter of time before I end up in jail?’