Infigen Energy’s shame – and Sarah Laurie’s truth

The document below is a statutory declaration.

Under Australian law, it is equivalent to giving evidence under oath.

If it contains false information, charges of perjury can be laid.

This declaration was sworn before a policeman by Whiteheads Creek resident Ursula James last Thursday.

DunphyIt concerns alleged statements made before a number of people by Infigen Energy employee Laura Dunphy (left).

We have written about Infigen Energy before.

We have also written about the slander of Waubra Foundation CEO Dr Sarah Laurie (see same post).

Infigen Energy is a company with an appalling track record.

It used to be known as Babcock and Brown Wind.

It was at the heart of one of the most shameful periods in Australian corporate history.

They’re not our words but those of leading Fairfax business commentator Ian Verrender.

Babcock and Brown Wind changed its name to Infigen Energy in 2009.

Before its financial implosion parent company Babcock and Brown donated heavily to the major parties, but particularly to the NSW ALP. More than $280,000 was given in the years 2003-2008.

NSW Labor is currently the subject of a major Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing.

For those living outside of Australia, google the name Eddie Obeid and you will come across hundreds of newspaper articles reporting alleged endemic corruption during the time of the NSW Labor government.

Here’s one.

And Babcock and Brown were financial suitors to this lot,  to the tune of almost $300,000.

The statutory declaration below alleges Infigen’s Dunphy told a group of locals that Dr Laurie was asked not to re-register as a medical doctor by “The Medical Board”.

This suggests that Dr Laurie had done something to warrant formal exclusion from medical practice.

Dunphy allegedly made similar claims to other residents, that Dr Laurie was not actually a doctor. She also made spurious claims about wind turbines and infrasound, according to the declaration.

Statuatory Declaration-Laura Dunphy's comments-page-001

And see the photo below.

dunphy infrasound

The PowerPoint presentation behind Dunphy reads: “Infrasound at the beach is higher than 250 – 300 metres from a wind turbine.”

This is untrue.

Undoubtedly, Dunphy is part of a posse of green energy hipsters who work for companies like Infigen Energy.

Armed with Macbook Airs and Vespas and science degrees, they believe they are helping save the planet one turbine at a time.

They have a naivete that can only come from people who call Wallpaper magazine their “bible” and list among their interests “drinking coffee”.

They believe they’ve cornered the market on common sense, science, business and doing right.

They never engage with their critics, however. And they see questions as a personal attack.

But Dunphy’s alleged willingness to slander Dr Laurie (and we understand she has since denied all or part of the allegations) would suggest the Babcock and Brown culture continues to run deep among some Infigen employees.

To set the record straight, we reproduce Dr Laurie’s submission to the Cherry Tree Wind Farm VCAT hearing – in full.

(Cherry Tree is an Infigen Energy project.)

If you want to know the truth about wind farms and health, take a few minutes and read it.

Remember, Dr Laurie is not doing this for profit or payback. She has no agenda, no political links, no favors to call in.

She’s doing it because she’s part of a growing number of Australians who say what’s happening in the renewable energy sector is corrupt and must be stopped.


Planning and Environment List

No 2910 of 2012






First Respondent



Second Respondent




STATEMENT OF DR Sarah Elisabeth Laurie, CEO Waubra Foundation

Sarah-Laurie321x3751.       My name is Dr Sarah Elisabeth Laurie, and I reside in the mid north of South Australia.  I was asked to submit a statement by concerned community members.

2.       I am a trained rural general practitioner, and practiced clinical medicine in rural and remote areas after completing my undergraduate medical degree at Flinders University in 1994, a Bachelor of Medicine, and a Bachelor of Surgery (BMBS).

3.        I subsequently completed postgraduate training, obtaining both a Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and a Fellowship of the Australian College of Remote and Rural Medicine.

4.       I was asked to become an examiner for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and did so in 2001.  I was also a member of state council of the South Australian branch of the Australian Medical Association.

5.       In 2002 I left clinical practice because of a serious medical illness requiring urgent surgery, and initially I retained my registration to continue clinical practice.

6.       I was subsequently unable for personal health reasons to return to work as a clinical practitioner, because of a combination of health issues and extended family caring responsibilities including young children and frail elderly parents in law, so I chose not to renew my medical registration in 2004 until I was in a position to resume clinical practice.

7.       I fully intend to return to clinical medicine in the future, however I am currently unregistered.

8.       I have never been deregistered.  I was informed by a resident living in the vicinity of the proposed Cherry Tree wind development that an Infigen employee had told them I was deregistered, but when challenged by the resident they changed their story.

9.       I currently work in a voluntary capacity as the CEO of the Waubra Foundation.

10.    The Foundation’s postal address is PO Box 7112 Banyule LPO, Victoria 3804 and my phone number is XXXX XXX XXX.

11.    The foundation was established in March 2010, by the former chairman of the National Stroke Foundation, Mr Peter Mitchell, AM, after he recognised the need for urgent research to investigate the reported adverse health effects being experienced and reported to Victorian Health authorities by residents near wind turbines at Waubra.

12.    At Mr Mitchell’s request, I joined the Foundation initially as Medical Director in July 2010.  My title was subsequently changed to Chief Executive Officer to better reflect my role.

13.    The Objectives of the Waubra Foundation are attached as Annexure 1.

14.    Our current directors in addition to Mr Peter Mitchell as Chairman, and myself as CEO, include Justice Clive Tadgell, formerly a Judge of the Victorian Supreme Court, the Hon Dr Michael Wooldridge, former Federal Health Minister, Mr Tony Hodgson AM, and Ms Kathy Russell, an economist and manager in a health service, who started visiting, supporting, and advocating for sick residents impacted by industrial wind turbine developments in Victoria in June 2008.

15.    All the directors donate their time pro bono.  Our activities are completely funded by concerned citizens, mostly residing in rural areas, who are appalled at the current situation and the lack of action by all the relevant responsible authorities to address the growing public health problems associated with unsafely sited and poorly regulated noise polluting wind turbine and other developments.

16.    The Waubra Foundation is frequently described in the media and by wind developers as an “anti wind” organisation, and I am personally regularly described as being “anti wind”.  Both assertions are untrue.  For example, it is on the public record that I supported my children, then aged 4, in their march in a “Get Up rally” holding a wind turbine, supporting wind energy, in Adelaide in 2008.

17.    The Waubra Foundation is primarily concerned about the adverse impacts of industrial noise on human health, with particular focus on sound and vibration in the infrasound and low frequency ranges, ie below 200 Hz.

18.    Since we commenced our work with initial concerns about poorly sited large industrial wind turbines, we have been approached by, and provided assistance to, a range of people impacted by different sources of infrasound and low frequency sound and vibration energy in both urban and rural environments.

19.    Rural noise sources have included gasfired power stations (eg Pt Campbell, Victoria, Uranquinty, NSW), mining activities (eg coal mines in the upper Hunter region, NSW) and compressors used in CSG operations (eg Tara, QLD).

20.    Urban sources include the low frequency noise emissions from a large compressor attached to a Veterinary Building at the University of Melbourne, which was affecting the health of some of the nearby residents living in an adjoining suburb of Parkville.  The Parkville Resident’s association submitted to the Federal Senate Inquiry into the Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms, and I have attached their submission as Annexure 2.

21.    As a result of my work in this area of public health, I have been asked to provide evidence at the two Australian Federal Senate inquiries, which investigated this issue of wind turbine noise, and I have also given evidence in and for other legal proceedings and parliamentary or government inquiries, both in Australia and in Canada.

22.    My own interest in this little understood area of public health was first stimulated in March/April 2010 by learning about a proposed wind turbine development near my home.

23.    That proposal has now been dropped by the wind developer, but my professional concern about the serious nature of the health problems, the way sick residents are being universally ignored by health, planning and noise pollution authorities, and the lack of specific scientific knowledge about safe exposure doses for certain sound frequencies remains, hence my ongoing work with the Waubra Foundation.

24.    Dr Amanda Harry, a rural General Practitioner from Cornwall in the United Kingdom was the first Medical practitioner I am aware of who reported adverse health effects being experienced by neighbours to wind turbines. Dr Harry conducted a survey of her patients living near wind developments in 2003.  Her study is attached as annexure 3.

25.    Dr Harry’s additional experience and post graduate qualifications in the fields of Ear Nose and Throat disorders, and the multidisciplinary assistance she received from a physicist with expertise in the field of infrasound and low frequency noise, together with the seriousness of some of the reported symptoms made me very concerned after reading her study that there was indeed a real problem for some neighbours of industrial wind turbines.

26.    It became clear with further reading that in the subsequent years since Dr Harry’s study there had been little systematic population health data collection by clinical researchers.   There was no information on the full spectrum of acoustic frequency exposures inside people’s homes, and very little research about the adverse health effects of chronic exposure to this sound and vibration energy from wind turbines specifically.  There were, however, plenty of adverse health reports from sick residents, including reports of home abandonment, both in Australia and internationally.

27.    I resolved to do what I could to ensure such research was urgently conducted, in order to ensure that future planning decisions for the siting of wind developments were better informed by science.

28.    The release by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council’s Rapid Review in July 2010 into this issue did nothing to allay my concerns, indeed a glance at the list of references in that document made me even more concerned, as there was an abundance of wind industry generated literature, some of which purported to be independent, but key authoritative documents and studies on low frequency noise, sleep deprivation at its consequences and the impacts of environmental noise were nowhere to be seen.  This Rapid Review document has since been extensively criticised nationally and internationally, and the NHMRC are currently conducting another review.

29.    The CEO of the NHMRC has since admitted during oral testimony on March 31st 2011 at the first Federal Senate Inquiry that “we do not say that there are no ill effects”, a position which the judges in a court case in Ontario agreed with in July 2011, when they found that “This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans.  The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents

Environmental Review Tribunal, Case Nos.: 10-121/10-122 Erickson v. Director, Ministry of the Environment, Dated this 18th day of July, 2011 by Jerry V. DeMarco, Panel Chair and Paul Muldoon, Vice-Chair,

30.    It was at this time when the NHMRC released their Rapid Review in July 2010, that I was first approached by Mr Peter Mitchell to work with the organisation he had established a few months earlier, initially called the Waubra Disease Foundation, as that was the name the Victorian Press were using at the time to describe the symptoms.

31.    When I first became aware of the proposed wind development near my own home, I also sought the advice of acousticians with experience of wind turbine noise working in Australia and internationally, in order to determine whether or not based on current acoustic knowledge my family and I would have a problem.

32.    I learnt from them and others of work which had already been carried out in Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK and in Europe.  Those acousticians included Professor Colin Hansen, from Adelaide University, and Dr Bob Thorne, from Noise Measurement Services based in Brisbane, also associated at the time with Massey University in New Zealand.  It was not reassuring.

33.    I also spoke with some of the residents whom Waubra Foundation director Kathy Russell, or Dr Thorne or Professor Hansen had previously been in contact with, and I was subsequently contacted by other residents who requested I visit their communities to share my growing knowledge of the problems with them.

34.    I attended the first Symposium into the Adverse Health Effects of wind turbines held in Ontario in October 2010, to learn as much as I could about the problems from other scientists, health professionals and acousticians interested in the area, and also from the sick residents who also attended this symposium from the US and Canada.  My husband and neighbours funded this trip.

35.    During this trip I met with numerous Canadian families, who all described the identical range but individually different symptoms and health problems in the characteristic pattern of worsening with increasing exposure but improving when they moved away, to those I had been previously told about in Australia, particularly by residents at the Toora and Waubra wind developments.

36.    All the residents I spoke to had the identical patterns of being symptom free prior to the start up of the adjacent wind project, subsequently developing symptoms which correlated with exposure to operating wind turbines and wind direction.   Their symptoms varied between members of the same household, but the pattern was consistent in that their individual symptoms worsened over time with ongoing exposure, and improved when away from their homes.

37.    Some of these Canadian families had been forced to leave their homes, and some had spent time in motels, paid for by the wind developers.  Some had signed confidentiality agreements, prohibiting them from speaking publicly about their health problems.  I had previously been told of this practice of silencing sick people in Australia at Toora and Waubra.

38.    I also met with a public health doctor at the Grey Bruce Health Unit who had publicly expressed her concerns about what was happening to rural residents living near wind developments in Ontario, Dr Hazel Lynn.  Dr Lynn chose to speak out about her concerns despite the Chief Health Officer of Ontario, Dr Arline King, issuing a report, widely used by the wind industry, which essentially denied there was any evidence of a health problem from wind turbine noise.

39.    Dr King has recently been subpoenaed to attend court in Ontario to explain how she came to her stated position, as it has emerged that numerous Ontario families had sent detailed reports to her department advising her of the serious nature of their health problems, and that field officers in the Ministry of the Environment, responsible for noise pollution regulation from the wind turbines, had also made their concerns clear to more senior government officials.

40.    I visited Toora in South Gippsland in October 2010, and met with Dr David Iser, an experienced and highly regarded rural medical practitioner who was the first Australian medical practitioner to speak publicly of his concerns and conduct his own research locally at Toora in 2003/4, based on Dr Amanda Harry’s initial survey.

41.    Dr Iser first raised his concerns in 2004 about his longstanding patients’ new symptoms, which coincided with the commencement of operation of the Toora wind development, with the Victorian Government and the Victorian Health authorities.  I have attached his letters to then government ministers, his survey questionnaire and other material at annexure 4.

42.    It is clear from information submitted to parliamentary inquiries and from media reports out in the public domain both in Australia and internationally that the identical range of adverse health problems resulting from exposure to operating wind turbines have been reported by residents and concerned health and acoustics professionals for a number of years prior to my own awareness of the problems and active involvement in advocating for research, which commenced relatively recently in July 2010.

43.    The wind industry and some public health academics with no clinical experience in this area, frequently assert in Australia that the symptoms being reported are caused by the “nocebo” effect, by which they mean the Waubra Foundation’s ongoing community education program about the reported symptoms and problems being reported by residents impacted by infrasound and low frequency nose from a number of sources, which they also refer to as “scaremongering”.

44.    There is no research evidence collected from rural residents living near wind developments in Australia or anywhere else in the world to support this assertion that the symptoms reported by these sick residents are caused by knowledge about the reported health problems.

45.    There is, however, human and animal research in the fields of infrasound and low frequency noise, which provide direct empirical experimental evidence that both infrasound and low frequency noise can cause a range of physiological stress effects and symptoms, many of which are also being reported by wind turbine residents.  Sound in those frequencies is now being measured inside the homes of sick people, and preliminary data is showing direct correlation between certain frequencies and specific symptoms.

46.    One useful literature review detailing research into infrasound was conducted in 2001 by the United States National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, with the title   “ Infrasound – Brief Review of toxicological Literature”.  It is attached as annexure 5.  Some of the animal studies listed show evidence of a physiological stress response, although generally the doses of infrasound are higher than those extremely limited data sets of full spectrum acoustic measurements inside and outside homes at existing wind developments, but the exposure durations are very short, in comparison to living 24/7 for 25 years beside a wind turbine development.  The report makes it clear that there are significant knowledge gaps with respect to chronic exposure to infrasound at lower “doses” particularly, stating: “Examples of critical data gaps include a lack of high quality long-term experimental studies of infrasound, and inadequate characterization of environmental infrasound and accompanying higher frequency sound levels in community settings.”

47.    The second relevant literature review was conducted in 2003 by Dr Geoffrey Leventhall, for the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, with the title “Review of Published Research on Low Frequency Noise and its Affects”. This review contains some very useful information about the then known physiological stress connections with low frequency noise exposure, one example given is of measured cortisol elevation in sleeping children exposed to truck low frequency noise, and confirms that wind turbines were known in 2003 to be a source of infrasound and low frequency noise.  The review is attached as annexure 6.

48.    There is also plenty of evidence that the reporting of symptoms for many residents at wind developments in Victoria such as Toora, Waubra and Cape Bridgewater preceded the establishment of the Waubra Foundation.  In the case of Dr David Iser’s patients at Toora the time elapsed is some 6 years, and similarly Dr Amanda Harry’s patients in her survey from the UK, which immediately preceded Dr Iser’s work.

49.    With respect to the impact of the Toora wind development on its neighbours, I have been advised by Dr Iser that a number of his severely affected patients left the district, having been bought out by the wind development operator at the time.

50.    These former Toora residents are now restricted from talking publicly about their health problems, because of a confidentiality clause in their agreement with the wind developer.

51.    I have also been advised that some homes at Toora were relocated or bulldozed, and that in these homes, residents had reported seeing vibrations in their cups of tea and glasses of water.  Acousticians I work with tell me this is evidence of sound frequencies well below 200 Hz, in the infrasound and low frequency noise ranges being present within the homes.  One of the homes where this vibration was reported at Toora, was subsequently bulldozed by the wind development owner, after the home was purchased from the sick resident.

52.    I was advised the law firm used by the sick residents from Toora to negotiate with the wind development owner was Slater and Gordon.  The use of confidentiality agreements under these circumstances was confirmed by Mr James Higgins, the General Manager of Slater and Gordon, in a letter to the Australian newspaper dated 4th May, 2011.  In that letter, Mr Higgins stated the following: “We have acted for landowners who have been affected by the operation of nearby windfarms”. Higgins went on to state that “Any confidentiality clauses associated with some compensation claims have not been made at our direction.  Such clauses are required by the wind farm operators and are typically required in these types of settlements.”

53.    I am concerned about the inevitability of serious adverse health impacts of this particular proposed Cherry Tree wind development on many of the neighbours, over the lifetime of the project, based on my knowledge of the adverse sleep and other health impacts of large wind turbines sited in close proximity to homes, in similar terrain, reported publicly in the media and in formal government inquiries, and privately to me by residents at numerous wind developments both in Australia and internationally.

54.    Characteristic symptoms such as the “repetitive night time waking in a panicked state” or waking up exhausted for no obvious reason, correlating with wind and weather conditions consistently observed by the resident and acousticians to correlate with this pattern of sleep disturbance, have been reported out to 10km from existing wind developments such as at Waterloo in South Australia, where the larger 3MW VESTAS V90 wind turbines have been used.  I understand wind turbines larger and more powerful than these are proposed for Cherry Tree Wind Development.

55.    Community noise impact surveys have been carried out by two Australian concerned rural citizens following some disturbing results obtained from a similar population noise impact survey carried out by a Masters student from Adelaide University, Zhenhua Wang, at Waterloo.

56.    Mr Wang surveyed all households within 5km of wind turbines at the Waterloo wind development, and found that over 50% of residents who responded were moderately or very affected by the wind turbine noise, with 38% stating they had adverse health effects including sleep deprivation and headaches.  75 surveys were distributed, and 48 returned, given a 64% response rate, which I am told by researchers who have published in this area that this is considered a very good response rate for this type of study.

57.    Mr Wang was awarded his degree on the basis of this research, but unfortunately the original masters dissertation has not ever been made publicly available, for reasons which have never been explained to the participating residents of Waterloo by either Mr Wang or Adelaide University.  The briefing summary written by Mr Wang is attached as annexure 7.

58.    This study by Mr Wang is the only one of its kind in the world, which has looked at the impact of larger wind turbines such as the VESTAS 3MW on a rural population.

59.    Mrs Mary Morris from Waterloo repeated Frank Wang’s survey questionnaire out to 10km in the same location, and found that the adverse noise and sleep impacts for some people extended out beyond 5km to 10km.

60.    Mrs Morris is a 5th generation farmer in the area and knew of people including wind turbine hosts who were reporting their health and sleep was affected by the wind turbines at Waterloo, and in particular Mrs Morris knew of people well beyond 5km who were also having problems who were not included in Mr Wang’s study.  Mrs Morris’s survey report is attached as annexure 8.

61.    Mrs Patina Schneider repeated a similar community noise impact survey out to 7.5km from 2MW wind turbines at Cullerin Range in New South Wales, and found that at that distance, after nearly four years of operation, 76% of households reported sleep disturbance due to the wind turbines (71% survey response rate).  Mrs Schneider’s survey report is attached as annexure 9.

62.    This important work by both Mrs Morris and Mrs Schneider will no doubt be dismissed by the wind industry and its advocates as biased, as both women are impacted by proposed wind developments.  However they cannot be dismissed quite so easily when these surveys are considered along with the evidence from many rural residents to two Federal senate inquiries, two state inquiries (NSW and SA), the results of Frank Wang’s survey, and the lack of publicly available completed and published peer reviewed university research which proves that their survey data is wrong or invalid.

63.    This evidence from the residents near large wind turbines reporting sleep problems out to greater distances with larger wind turbines is supported by acoustic evidence from Professors Moller and Pedersen’s peer reviewed published research paper from 2011 which demonstrated that the size of the turbine is related to the amount of low frequency noise generated, and the consequent “annoyance” for the neighbours.  Acoustic engineers have historically called sleep disturbance and a range of other symptoms known by them to be associated with low frequency noise “annoyance”.  Professor Moller stated that “The relative amount of low-frequency noise is higher for large turbines (2.3–3.6 MW) than for small turbines (≤ 2 MW), and the difference is statistically significant.”   That paper is attached as annexure 10.

64.    I have now listened to detailed symptom reports from over one hundred and twenty rural residents in Australia affected by operating wind turbines, and have a good understanding of the range of pathology, the individual variability in expression of symptoms, and the pattern of inevitable deterioration with ongoing exposure once people become sensitised.

65.    My knowledge has also been informed by discussions with some of the treating health practitioners, being general practitioners, sleep physicians, psychologists, occupational physicians, and researchers and acoustic colleagues working in this area internationally in both clinical practice and research, and from my knowledge of the relevant research literature.

66.    The symptoms reported to me by residents exposed to wind turbines primarily include symptoms related to acute and chronic sleep deprivation and its consequences, symptoms of acute and chronic physiological and psychological stress, and symptoms of vestibular disorders.

67.    US epidemiologist Professor Carl Phillips has noted the connection with stress related disorders in his peer reviewed published paper on the subject, titled “Properly Interpreting the Epidemiological Evidence about the Health Effects of Industrial wind turbines on Nearby Residents” which is attached as annexure 11.

68.    In the abstract of that paper, Professor Phillips states : “There is overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents, usually stress-disorder type diseases, at a nontrivial rate. The bulk of the evidence takes the form of thousands of adverse event reports. There is also a small amount of systematically-gathered data. The adverse event reports provide compelling evidence of the seriousness of the problems and of causation in this case because of their volume, the ease of observing exposure and outcome incidence, and case-crossover data. Proponents of turbines have sought to deny these problems by making a collection of contradictory claims including that the evidence does not “count”, the outcomes are not “real” diseases, the outcomes are the victims’ own fault, and that acoustical models cannot explain why there are health problems so the problems must not exist. These claims appeared to have swayed many non-expert observers, though they are easily debunked. Moreover, though the failure of models to explain the observed problems does not deny the problems, it does mean that we do not know what, other than kilometers of distance, could sufficiently mitigate the effects. There has been no policy analysis that justifies imposing these effects on local residents. The attempts to deny the evidence cannot be seen as honest scientific disagreement, and represent either gross incompetence or intentional bias”

69.    In addition to symptoms and consequences of sleep deprivation, stress and vestibular disorders, residents also consistently report that some of their pre-existing medical and psychiatric conditions worsen with exposure to operating wind turbines, but improve when either the turbines stop turning, when the wind is in a different direction, or when they are away from their home and not exposed to other sources of infrasound and low frequency noise.

70.    Given the extensive and longstanding peer reviewed published clinical research detailing the known interconnections and associations between chronic sleep deprivation, stress and numerous clinical disorders including ischemic heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, immune suppression resulting in increased infections and malignancies (cancers), depression, and anxiety, this observation of these particular preexisting symptoms and health problems worsening with exposure to wind turbine noise is not surprising to clinicians and mental health professionals when they understand the way infrasound and low frequency noise, regardless of the source of the noise, are known to affect health via the physiological and psychological stress pathways.

71.    When that wind turbine related noise pollution is occurring at night, and people are reporting their sleep is disturbed, even if the precise causative low frequencies are not known, the adverse health consequences from this widely reported sleep disturbance from exposure to operating wind turbines are well known, predictable, and inevitable.   It is no surprise this is now being reflected in some of the emerging research literature where data is being collected from sick residents.

72.    A relatively recent meta analysis of the impact of chronic sleep deprivation on cardiovascular disease, published in the European Heart Journal in February 2011 is attached as annexure 12.  That meta analysis states “Lack of sleep exerts deleterious effects on a variety of systems with detectable changes in metabolic, endocrine, and immune pathways.  Too little or too much sleep are associated with adverse health outcomes, including total mortality, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and respiratory disorders, obesity in both children and adults and poor self-rated health”

73.    A review of the widely damaging impact of chronic stress on health by a leading researcher in this area, Bruce McEwen, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1998, and since 1998 the evidence continues to mount about the deleterious effect of chronic stress on physical and mental health and well being.  That review is attached as annexure 13.

74.    This characteristic pattern of symptoms varying directly with exposure to operating wind turbines is entirely consistent with reports from rural residents exposed to operating industrial wind turbines around the world, and is consistent with the recent clinical and acoustic reports from my health and acoustic colleagues, particularly from the following:  Dr Nina Pierpont, American Paediatrician, Dr Robert McMurtry, (former Dean of the Medical and Dental School of Western Ontario), Ms Carmen Krogh, a retired senior Pharmacist from Health Canada who has conducted extensive field research in Ontario, and acousticians such as Dr Bob Thorne, Mr Steven Cooper, Mr Rob Rand and Mr Stephen Ambrose from Maine, USA, and Mr Rick James, from Michigan.

75.    Dr Bob McMurtry has published a peer reviewed paper with a proposed Case Definition, to extend the work started by our clinical colleagues Drs Harry, Iser, and Pierpont, and to take into account the additional knowledge from his interviews with many affected residents in Ontario, Canada and his experience watching their symptoms progressively deteriorate with ongoing exposure.  That paper is attached at annexure 14.

76.    I have learnt that what acousticians call “annoyance” medical practitioners listening to the same reported symptoms described by the residents may describe as “serious clinical pathology”, particularly in the case of sleep and stress related symptoms if the effects are cumulative.  Dr Nina Pierpont also identified this issue some years earlier.

77.    As medical practitioners are not acousticians it is not surprising that using terms such as “annoyance” has resulted in continuing ignorance amongst our medical colleagues about what is meant by the term “annoyance” in the acoustic research literature, if they have time to read these papers.

78.    Currently, the groups of medical practitioners who may have some awareness of the problems with infrasound and low frequency noise exposure are those working in the military, the aviation industry, occupational physicians looking after workers exposed occupationally to low frequency noise and vibration, and ear nose and throat specialists who look after patients with vestibular disorders.

79.    Rural General Practitioners are the first to see these patients affected by operating wind turbines, and it is my observation that they rarely have any knowledge or specific training in this field of medicine, as it is not a core part of our work, unlike occupational physicians or ear nose and throat specialists.  Rural doctors are often extremely busy, and if they are part of a large medical practice they may only see one or two patients living near wind turbines who are experiencing problems, so may be unaware of the relevant body of knowledge which does exist, even though it is limited.

80.    Closer collaboration and communication between knowledgeable and industry independent health and acoustic professionals locally and internationally, as well as the work of neurophysiologists such as Professor Alec Salt from Washington State University, is now helping to overcome these communication and conceptual barriers between acousticians and health practitioners to better understand the range and severity of health problems the residents are reporting, and their connections with exposure to operating wind turbines or other sources of infrasound and low frequency noise and vibration.

81.    The evidence of the suspected direct causal relationships between specific low frequency emissions from the wind turbines and specific symptoms has recently strengthened with the case study reported by Associate Professor Con Doolan in November 2011, in a paper titled “Characterisation of noise in homes affected by wind turbine noise”.

82.    Acoustic and “annoyance” data with a scale for severity of symptoms was collected from a resident and inside their home 2.5km from turbines at the Waterloo wind development in South Australia.  It was found that symptoms of “annoyance” were related in time and severity to the presence and “dose” of specific low frequency sound energy present at the time the resident perceived and reported the symptoms.

83.    The data collection in this case study was limited in its collection of infrasound frequencies, as it did not include frequencies between 0 – 10 Hz because the acoustic equipment used did not have that capacity to detect and record those frequencies.  However with respect to the frequencies between 10 – 30 Hz, the following was stated ““Measurements taken in a single resident’s home near a wind farm show an increase in the overall mean Z (unweighted) and C weighted sound level with Annoyance rating.  No increase was, however, observed in the mean A weighted sound level and this is due to the majority of the acoustic energy being contained in the lower frequencies.  In particular, the energy levels within the 10-30 Hz band were observed to increase with Annoyance rating.

84.    The resident was unaware of the acoustic emissions at the time, and so was “blinded” to the acoustic results.  This study is attached as annexure 15.

85.    The improved understanding of the physiology behind the inner ear’s response to infrasound and low frequency noise has been greatly assisted by the work of physiologist Professor Alec Salt and his colleagues from Washington State University.

86.    A recent paper presented by Professor Salt in August 2012 in New York, titled “Perception-based protection from low-frequency sounds may not be enough” showed that the inner ear of mammals is much more responsive to sound frequencies below 20 Hz than previously thought, especially where there is little concurrent sound present in higher frequencies.  Professor Salt has suggested that based on his research, thresholds of safe exposure for infrasound such as is emitted by industrial wind turbines may be much lower than has historically been assumed by many acousticians to be safe, based on historic perception thresholds.  That paper is attached as annexure 16.

87.    British acoustician Dr Malcolm Swinbanks shares Professor Salt’s concerns about the inadequacy of the current perception thresholds to protect health.  At the same New York Conference, Dr Swinbanks referred to a paper from Chinese researchers in 2004, demonstrating that in an experimental situation, infrasound resulted in both physiological changes (blood pressure elevation and increase in heart rate) and symptoms such as nausea, at levels which were below the current perception threshold used to assert that levels below that threshold were “safe” and did not cause those physiological effects.  This is confirmatory experimental evidence from almost 10 years ago that these perception thresholds were not appropriate and needed to be much lower.  Both the Swinbanks paper and the Chinese research paper are attached as annexures 17 and 18.

88.    An acoustic environment full of infrasound and low frequency sound energy but without much concurrent audible noise is precisely the scenario in quiet rural environments inside well insulated homes in the vicinity of wind developments with large industrial wind turbines operating.  When it is also understood that infrasound and low frequency noise sound energy is far more penetrating and attenuates far more slowly than audible sound, it helps explain why some people are reporting the characteristic sleep disturbance and vibration symptoms related to infrasound and low frequency noise energy on occasions out to 10km from the nearest wind turbine.

89.    One such home was measured by Australian acoustician Steven Cooper, who recorded the characteristic wind turbine acoustic signature in a home 8km from the nearest 3MW wind turbine in Waterloo in South Australia, where the residents experience some of the characteristic symptoms, including sleep disturbance.  That data is at figure 10 in attachment 19, in a paper by Steven Cooper with the title : “Are wind farms too close to communities”.

90.    I know the occupant of that house well.  The resident in that home has changed from being an ardent wind turbine supporter, who worked on the initial wind turbine development at Waterloo, to deciding to forego the income from 6 turbines himself as he doesn’t want the symptoms for his family to worsen, and nor does he want to harm the health of his neighbours.

91.    The acoustic survey performed at the home in Falmouth, Massachusetts by Robert Rand and Stephen Ambrose, and first reported in December 2011 in the document titled “Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study”  also provided useful information with respect to the difference in the acoustic environment inside and outside the home while the wind turbine was operating.   The document is attached at annexure 20.

92.     Rand and Ambrose found that taking concurrent full spectrum acoustic measurements revealed that there was far more energy in the infrasound and low frequency noise section of the sound spectra inside the home than outside, and likened the inside of the home to being like being within an acoustic drum, because of the way the lower frequencies resonated.

93.    Rand and Ambrose also found, unexpectedly, that they both became ill with the identical pattern of symptoms characteristic of exposure to operating wind turbines, and had to get out of the house in order to obtain relief from the symptoms.  Both took some time to recover from just three days exposure.  The Falmouth resident has since abandoned her home because of deteriorating health.  Rand is now sensitised, and reports the symptoms he experienced at the Shirley wind project in December 2012 in his report at annexure 23 (see below).

94.    Further evidence of the role of infrasound between 0 – 10 Hz may be playing in the direct generation of symptoms such as nausea and headaches has come from the results of a recent acoustic survey at the Shirley wind project, Wisconsin.  There was clear evidence of infrasound at 0.7 Hz and its harmonics, emitted by the operating wind turbines, generated as the blade passes the tower, called the “blade pass frequency”.  The joint report of the four acousticians, and the reports by Dr Paul Schomer and Mr Rob Rand are attached as annexures 21, 22 and 23.

95.    On the basis of the data collected, four firms of acousticians including those working for wind developers and those working for sick residents as well as a very senior member of the acoustics profession in America who has worked for both wind developers and residents (Dr Paul Schomer) signed a common report, which amongst other things stated the following: “The four investigating firms are of the opinion that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry. It should be addressed beyond the present practice of showing that wind turbine levels are magnitudes below the threshold of hearing at low frequencies”.

96.    Thus there is very recent empirical acoustic survey data, from the US and Australia, which clearly demonstrates that wind turbines emit sound in frequencies below those currently being measured by the usage of dBA, which have the potential to cause symptoms in some people, and the potential to cause harm to health from the cumulative sleep deprivation effects alone, long described as the most prevalent “annoyance” let alone symptoms induced by physiological or psychological stress, or vestibular disorders.

97.    The current practice by wind developers and noise regulatory authorities of relying solely on dBA for noise impact predictions and noise measurements has therefore been demonstrated to be inadequate, as dBA will not measure either the infrasound frequencies (0 – 20 Hz) or low frequency noise (20 – 200 Hz), and as Associate Professor Con Doolan has shown, reported annoyance bears no relationship to dBA, but “the energy levels within the 10-30 Hz band were observed to increase with Annoyance rating”.

98.    Both infrasound and low frequency noise frequency ranges are considered by these acousticians and others including scientists and health professionals working in the field to be implicated in directly causing the pathology and symptoms being reported by the sick residents, on the basis of current knowledge and research.

99.    There is general agreement amongst acousticians, health professionals and other researchers independent of the wind industry with direct personal knowledge of the problems reported by the residents that further multidisciplinary research is urgently required in order to determine human safety dose response curves, both for acute short term exposures and longer term exposures relating to infrasound, low frequency noise and vibration emissions from these wind turbines.  This is particularly important given the reported and observed deterioration of the physical and mental health of residents with ongoing exposure to operating wind turbines, once they have developed initial symptoms of exposure.

100. This deterioration in health with ongoing exposure to infrasound and low frequency noise has been reported for 10 years.  It was noted by Dr Leventhall, in his previously mentioned 2003 report to the UK Government’s DEFRA (annexure 6).

101. On page 60, in his concluding remarks, Leventhall stated “There is no doubt that some humans exposed to infrasound experience abnormal ear, CNS (central nervous system) and resonance induced symptoms that are real and stressful.  If this is not recognised by investigators or their treating physicians, and properly addressed with understanding and sympathy, a psychological reaction will follow and the patient’s problems will be compounded.  Most subjects may be reassured that there will be no serious consequences to their health from infrasound exposure, and if further exposure is avoided they may expect to become symptom free.”

102. Evidence showing the deterioration in people’s health over time by comparing pre exposure status with post exposure status has not yet been collected in a systematic way at any wind development, so there is little comparative data, with the exception of Dr Nina Pierpont’s peer reviewed study, which clearly showed deterioration in those residents, which ceased when they removed themselves from exposure by leaving their homes.

103. The Waubra Foundation urged staff in the Victorian Department of Health to start collecting this pre exposure health data prior to Hepburn Wind’s turbines commencing operation at Leonard’s Hill, and subsequently from AGL/Meridian Energy’s Macarthur wind development turbines commencing operation recently, but according to the residents the Victorian Department of Health have not done so.  Some residents are ensuring their own family doctor does a thorough pre construction health check, documenting their health status prior to the start up of the wind project in their area.

104. Residents at both these newer wind developments have publicly and privately reported serious health problems and some have reported temporary (in the case of Macarthur) or even permanent home abandonment (in the case of Hepburn Wind) for symptom relief.

105. The wind turbines at Macarthur are the largest in Australia, being VESTAS V112’s, and are not yet properly commissioned.  Yet already the characteristic symptoms of the typical repetitive sleep disturbance and body vibrations, have been reported to me by families who live out to six kilometres away from the nearest wind turbine, some of whom have also spoken out in the media.  For some, the symptoms started within days of first being exposed, consistent with the reports from residents and other clinicians from elsewhere in Australia and internationally.

106. Dr Bob Thorne’s recent self-funded study submitted to both the recent Federal Senate inquiry into proposed legislation to better regulate “excessive noise from wind farms” and for peer review prior to publication in an international journal, has provided vital information about the health status of individuals who have lived near 2 Victorian wind developments for over two years.  Some of those individuals were forced to leave their homes, some permanently, because of the seriousness of the health problems, which they developed with exposure to operating wind turbines.

107. Dr Thorne’s study is unique, in that it combined acoustic measurements at certain homes, with collection of clinical data using standardised validated questionnaires.  This had not been done previously, and gives some idea of acoustic exposures inside the homes, however Dr Thorne was unable to collect frequencies down to the blade pass frequency level such as were collected in the Wisconsin study.

108. The questionnaires chosen by Dr Thorne were based on those used in two previous peer reviewed published studies, being work of Dr Daniel Shepherd et al, published in October 2011, and Dr Michael Nissenbaum et al, published in October 2012, attached as annexures 24 and 25.

109. Dr Thorne’s data confirmed the previous findings from both studies above with respect to the existence of significantly disturbed sleep in neighbouring residents, using an internationally recognised sleep quality questionnaire called the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index.  Dr Thorne’s study is attached, at annexure 26.

110. Dr Thorne’s results replicated Dr Nissenbaum’s findings of mental health problems in residents exposed to wind turbines.  The scores were extremely low, indicating that in these people, there was a very disturbing level of mental health pathology, which is precisely what the residents have been reporting themselves.  The wind turbines in all three studies mentioned above were much smaller than those proposed for Cherry Tree Wind Development, meaning that the distance of effect will be much greater should the Cherry Tree wind development be approved.

111. In addition, when the health of individuals in Dr Thorne’s recent case series exposed to wind turbines was compared to data collected from patients hospitalised for depression, the health of the turbine exposed group was noticeably worse on every indicator of health, including domains of physical, mental, social and environmental.

112. Hospital inpatients generally have the worst scores on these indicators, indicating the seriousness of the pathology being experienced by these wind turbine exposed residents, which is consistent with their adverse health event reports and the reports of their clinicians.

113. The pattern of onset of symptoms is variable for each individual, even within the same household with apparently similar exposures.  Reports of changes in their health from rural families in Australia to me directly are consistent with the clinical findings of medical practitioners such as Dr Nina Pierpont (USA), Dr Amanda Harry (UK) and Dr McMurtry (Canada).  This is to be expected with any disease process in a population, but also because of the known individual variation with respect to perception of sound.

114. Predictors of increased risk of developing symptoms with exposure to operating wind turbines were identified by American Paediatrician Dr Nina Pierpont in her peer reviewed, case series, cross over study published in 2009.  Dr Pierpont collected data documenting health status and medical problems for individuals prior to exposure to operating wind turbines, followed by a detailed clinical history of symptoms while exposed, followed by a detailed clinical history of symptoms when people reduced their exposure to operating wind turbines by leaving their homes.  A clear pattern of symptoms relating to exposure to operating wind turbines was evident.

115. The predisposing risk factors identified by Dr Pierpont include having a pre existing problem with motion sickness, inner ear pathology, or a clinical history of migraines.  The elderly and the very young appear also appear to be more vulnerable to developing symptoms early.  Dr Pierpont’s findings are consistent with the clinical reports I have been given by Australian residents, and invariably those who reported a rapid onset of symptoms with early exposure fitted into one of the five groups mentioned above (child, elderly, motion sickness, migraines or inner ear pathology).

116. Dr Geoffrey Leventhall, the acoustic consultant often used by the wind industry, has acknowledged Dr Pierpont’s contribution in this area of identifying people susceptible to the effects of “environmental noise” whilst giving evidence under oath in Canada (personal communication with Eric Gillespie, Ontario Lawyer).

117. One of Dr Nina Pierpont’s Peer Reviewers for her study was Dr Owen Black, a senior Otolaryngologist (Ear Nose and Throat Specialist) with extensive experience of treating vestibular disorders and knowledge of pathology related to low frequency noise exposure from his work with the American Navy and with NASA.  Dr Owen Black’s affidavit for a court case from 2009 in the USA is attached as annexure 27.

118. Over time with ongoing exposure the symptoms worsen in each individual.  This worsening of symptoms with ongoing exposure to low frequency noise, was also reported by Dr Geoffrey Leventhall, in his report to the UK Department of Environment Food, and Rural Affairs, in 2003.

119. There is no evidence that people habituate or “get used to” the effects, rather the clinical evidence is that people do not habituate, rather they deteriorate until they remove themselves from exposure after which many of their symptoms and health problems start to improve.   This is consistent with the pattern identified by multiple clinicians and acousticians previously mentioned.

120. It is consistently reported by the residents that the longer the period of exposure, the longer it takes for their symptoms to improve with cessation of exposure.

121. By far the most commonly reported problem by the residents is repetitive sleep disturbance, resulting in cumulative sleep deprivation and consequent exhaustion with ongoing exposure to operating wind turbines.  The significance of this problem has been confirmed in the peer reviewed published studies of Dr Daniel Shepherd, and Dr Michael Nissenbaum, and in the recently completed study of residents at two Victorian wind developments by Dr Bob Thorne, previously mentioned.

122. The sleep disturbance can be many times in the same night, and is reported by the residents to be related to wind direction, with the worst experiences being reported to be when the residents are downwind from the operating wind turbines, and particularly bad in certain homes on those nights where they are downwind of a line of wind turbines.

123. Some residents also report experiencing an effect when they are upwind from the wind turbines.  Acoustic field measurements performed by Mr Steven Cooper have confirmed the presence of the characteristic wind turbine signature with infrasound and low frequency noise components upwind of the turbines.

124. Many residents report not being able to see or hear the wind turbines when they wake up with the characteristic symptoms, especially if they are at a considerable distance from the wind turbines.  However in my experience from staying and visiting these people, their predictions from inside their homes, about turbine operation and even wind direction, solely on the basis of the symptoms they have at a particular time, when they cannot see or hear the turbines, are remarkably accurate.

125.  Some residents report being woken by the audible wind turbine noise on occasions, particularly on nights with cold night air, which acousticians report is consistent with what they describe as the “temperature inversion effect” where audible noise in quiet rural areas is noted by residents to travel for greater distances.

126. I am aware that the World Health Organisation recognises sleep disturbance as an adverse health effect.  In its Night-time noise guidelines for Europe (2009) it states at pXII that “sleep is a biological necessity and disturbed sleep is associated with a number of adverse impacts on health”.  The guidelines go on to state that: “While noise-induced sleep disturbance is viewed as a health problem in itself (environmental insomnia), it also leads to further consequences for health and wellbeing”.  One example of a consequence is the previously mentioned links between cardiovascular disease and chronic sleep deprivation, which were confirmed by Professor Capuccio’s meta analysis, previously mentioned and attached as annexure 12.

127. The Federal Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament made numerous recommendations in June 2011 for urgent multidisciplinary research to be conducted into wind turbine noise and adverse health effects, which included the measurement of sound frequencies inside affected resident’s homes.

128. The Waubra foundation has long advocated that a precautionary distance of 10km must be adopted for new turbine developments, especially those planning to use the larger wind turbines, on the basis of clinical reports of sleep deprivation out to that distance at existing wind developments, until this research is conducted.  Our Explicit Cautionary Notice is attached at annexure 28.

129. The evidence since we issued our Explicit Cautionary Notice in June 2011 has continued to mount that there are serious concerns, and that infrasound and low frequency noise are implicated directly in causation of these health problems.

130. In May 2012 the Waubra Foundation called for the full acoustic spectrum to be measured at all wind developments, with our Acoustic Pollution Guideline Requirements document attached as annexure 29.

131. The recent findings in Australia at Waterloo and the United States at the Shirley wind project now make that imperative at all existing and future wind developments, as part of ongoing monitoring in addition to the required research.  It is our firm position that such acoustic monitoring results must be mandatory, transparent, out in the public domain, and available in real time to all parties.

132. I believe that the research recommended by the Federal Senate in June 2011 must be performed before any more turbines are constructed within 10km of human habitation.

133. I have not found any scientific or other evidence to show that a 2 km turbine setback from homes, such as currently exists in Victoria, is enough to protect people from low frequency noise and infrasound, especially from the larger wind turbines increasingly being used by the wind industry, indeed experienced acousticians such as Professor Phillip Dickinson with nearly 60 years experience  have suggested 5 – 10 km would be more appropriate.  He stated at the conclusion of a recent paper which heavily criticised the New Zealand standard and restated the importance of sleep, “One easy solution for solving the noise problem and protecting public health, is a ruling that no wind farm sound emis-sion shall exceed 30 dB (LAeq,10mins) at any residence, nor exceed 20 dB (LAeq,10mins) in total in the frequency bands 31.5 to 125 Hz. A very simple way of achieving this, and of eliminating the need for any further involvement by the territorial authority, would be to make a ruling that no wind farm shall be situated less than say 5 to 10 kilometres away from any residence unless the occupant agrees in writing for this condition to be waived”.  The paper is attached as annexure 30.

134. There are valid concerns expressed by acousticians and clinicians, on the basis of clinical and resident adverse health event reports, population noise impact surveys and acoustic measurements, that even with the current limited knowledge, the buffer distances from larger industrial wind turbines need to be much greater than 2 km, in order to protect the health and amenity of residents who are hosts as well as neighbours, and their family members who may be in the particularly at risk groups such as babies, young children, noise sensitive individuals such as those with brain injuries, autism spectrum disorders, and the elderly.

135. This proposal should therefore be rejected on the basis of its potential to cause serious adverse health effects from sleep disturbance alone, to a great number of people.

136. The proposed industrial wind turbine development should be rejected until the developer can prove with independently conducted peer reviewed scientific, acoustic and medical research that its industrial wind development will not cause harm to the health of rural people living and working nearby, through chronic cumulative exposure to unsafe levels of low frequency noise and infrasound emitted from the industrial wind turbines proposed, over the life of the project.

Dr Sarah Elisabeth Laurie

CEO Waubra Foundation

signed  and submitted to VCAT  14th January, 2013

For a pdf of Dr Laurie’s submission, including attachments, click here.

18 thoughts on “Infigen Energy’s shame – and Sarah Laurie’s truth

  1. I thaught, Goverments are supposed to govern for the people & not for the corrupt wind industry, boy aren’t they corrupt (Goverments to). I must say their are a lot of people who are working hard, who are getting the truth out to stop these wind turbines, which in turn will let everyone to get their health & land values back again. The Greens & Labor need to be brought to acount over this whole wind industry for all the pain that it has dumped on the people who are suffering with health ect.

  2. It’s interesting that Laura Dunphy is discussing that waves at the beach are louder than wind turbines. These wind industry lies must go out in an email alert to all of their shills, because just yesterday one of their most vocal shills named Mike Barnard (you see his name all over the world so he must have a huge financial stake in this game) made that same comment on a newspaper thread.

  3. Reblogged this on Quixotes Last Stand and commented:
    A new topic seems to have appeared among wind industry shills. Comparing the sounds of waves to the infrasound of wind turbines. Watch for this comment to start appearing everywhere as the shills infiltrate the comment sections of all of the newspapers.

  4. There is enough information coming out now, regarding the serious problems arising because of the irresponsible placement of turbines, to prove to even the most cynical person, that IWT’s that are sited too close to homes, can and will, cause a percentage of the population to become ill. Laws have to be put in place to stop this complete disregard for the people suffering from these problems. Ethics has to come into play, if not, it makes it only too obvious that this is a money grab, and not a “green initiative”, as the wind industry has tried to claim.

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