Noise is always and everywhere a public health issue.
Last year, in a piece looking at the importance of silence to healthy, happy communities, The Economist, quoting Poppy Elliot from the Noise Abatement Society, wrote that:
[A] quiet environment is necessary to enable people to fulfil their intellectual and creative potential. She points to a report on the health effects of noise published by the World Health Organisation in 2011, which found that in western Europe, excessive noise was second only to air pollution as a cause of environmental ill-health.
STT agrees. But common sense rarely needs an advocate; if you’re still not convinced, see our post here.
As the World Health Organisation puts it:
There is plenty of evidence that sleep is a biological necessity, and disturbed sleep is associated with a number of health problems. Studies of sleep disturbance in children and in shift workers clearly show the adverse effects.
That little chestnut comes from the WHO’s Night-time Noise Guidelines for Europe – for more of the same, see the Executive Summary at XI to XII.
Sleep deprivation is, by far and away, the most common adverse health effect caused by turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound (see our post here).
That unassailable fact has been well-known to the wind industry since the 1980s – thanks to the work done by Neil Kelley and Co (see our posts here and here and here): conclusive scientific research establishing low-frequency turbine noise as the cause of sleep disturbance and other adverse health effects, which the wind industry buried, the NHMRC ignored, but which STT found without too much trouble (see our posts here and here).
While the occasional poor night’s sleep is used to excuse substandard work performance, grumpy attitudes at the breakfast table and the burning need for a third cup of coffee, the absence of a decent night’s kip takes on special significance for the parents of newborns, especially mums.
The focal point for these parents is sleep; or, rather, the somewhat cruel lack of it.
Discussions rarely stray far from how well bubs slept?; how well dad might have slept? (the importance of which, is often downplayed or dismissed by mum); or whether mum managed to get any sleep at all? (although, few are so bold to downplay or dismiss the importance of that complaint!).
Anyone who has been part of the process knows the joys of being woken, night after night, at three in the morning with a poke (and failing that, a kick) in the ribs from the other half, and a grumbled “it’s your turn”.
While, in the morning, dad, bleary eyed, might trundle off to work a little worse for wear, it’s mum that usually fronts up to the full responsibility of looking after the wriggling bundle of joy that kept everybody up for most of the night.
Faced with a wildly erratic and surging sea of postnatal hormones, little or no sleep and the anxiety that only an inconsolable infant can bring, it’s little wonder that young mums can end up feeling a little down in the dumps.
For first time mums, those pressures can quickly mount; and only get worse if there’s any outside agent interfering with her ability to snatch a little sleep, from time to time.
But, for all of the nocturnal dramas, the upside for mum is looking down on the face of her well-fed young precious, as he or she drifts off to the land of nod.
For mums, breastfeeding is not only a time to provide their pride and joy with life-giving nourishment, it’s a moment when the maternal bond is built; and becomes eternal.
Getting as much sleep as baby’s demands permit, naturally leads to happier mums and healthy, well-fed babies.
So, you’d think that nursing mothers would know and appreciate just how important sleep is to both mothers and infants?
But not, apparently, if they’ve been recruited as spruikers for the wind industry.
In Australia, the needs and rights of nursing mothers are taken seriously (as well they should be). And, so much so, an advocacy group called the Australian Breastfeeding Association has been going into bat for breastfeeding mums for over 50 years.
Now, one of the ABA’s numbers, Angela McFeeters, from Portland has decided to tip a bucket on both common sense and maternal instinct, with this little effort, attempting to explain away and excuse the misery dished up to residents by Pacific Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater wind farm disaster.
McFeeters is a paid up member and spokesperson for Andrew Bray’s Victorian/Australian Wind Alliance – a merry band of eco-fascists happy to spruik on behalf of their wind industry clients, and to profit from the misery of others.
McFeeters has been caught out as being little more than a wind industry Patsy, by none other than Melissa Ware – one of Pac Hydro’s long-suffering victims at Cape Bridgewater; and one of the subjects of Steven Cooper’s study.
Here’s an open letter from Melissa that puts McFeeters well and truly back in her box, as only a mother who has been there and done that could do.
Australian Breastfeeding Association head office
1818-1822 Malvern Road
MALVERN EAST VIC 3145
The article above has recently been published in the Portland Observer by Bill Meldrum “Wind Alliance rejects health claims”; I object to the incorrect statements made within it by Ms Angela McFeeters, an ABA representative at Portland and spokesperson for the Victorian/Australian Wind Alliance. I draw it to your attention for discussion, review and management of.
As one of the six resident participants in the Steven Cooper Acoustic Testing Program at Cape Bridgewater of Nov 2014, I have firsthand knowledge of impacts and conditions living in proximity to the industrial wind energy plant of 29, 2MW turbines at Cape Bridgewater causing health impacts and disturbance to us and to many others exposed to infrasound and other disturbing industrial ‘noise’ emissions around Australia.
I suggest the ABA has a duty to become more fully informed of these public health impacts to assist new mothers and babies; to become informed of the issues by reading the links below and further extensive information compiled and available at; wind.watch.org, the Waubra foundation or Stop These Things websites.
Ms McFeeters would not have the medical expertise to publically declare any conclusions on the status of my health, only my GP or Specialist have the comprehensive understanding of and authority to make any statements regarding health or impacts to it. Ms McFeeters has over the past 12 months anonymously attended community consultation meetings related to the acoustic study being conducted by the owners of the wind farm, Pacific Hydro and has heard the impacting conditions we have reported to the company and the Government Authorities over the past six years.
This is not the first biased public statement or comment Ms McFeeters has aired whilst representing the Wind Alliance and the wind industry.
Her assumptions and implied accusations in this article are based without visiting my house, nor noting medical conditions first hand, as my GP’s, Specialists or the Acoustic Engineers that have conducted studies inside my home. The study undertaken by Mr Cooper is groundbreaking and assists with the resolve of problems of noise, vibration and sensation through greater understanding and knowledge gleaned by cooperatively working together. Cooperation was undertaken for the first time ever by residents, a wind farm and an independent acoustician working with the goal of getting to the bottom of the problems. I doubt Ms McFeeters has read or understands the importance of the research or the publically released conclusions.
The most damaging impact of wind farms to public health, including my own is the serious issue of sleep deprivation. As a representative of the ABA, dismissal of the very real health impact of sleep deprivation caused by wind farm disturbance is unfeeling and callous in its disregard. Dismissing disturbances documented within the Acoustic study could damage mothers and infants living near and impacted by wind farms, not only in the Portland region but around the nation.
Sleep disturbance and post natal depression go hand in hand; her biased public opinions and her obligation to abide by the code of ethics of the ABA do not. I ask which qualifications, expertise and knowledge allows her to refute health impacts that have been well documented and confirmed as far back as 1985 in the US Kelley report and do you endorse the opinions of this Alliance?
Disturbed fertility and menstrual cycles in women living near wind turbines in Denmark, Canada and Australia are being reported from both residents and by health professionals.
Health professionals, medical practitioners, acoustic experts and researchers who have firsthand knowledge of the severity of reported health problems call for urgent multidisciplinary research in this area and include:
Professor Bob McMurtry, Dr Roy Jeffery, Associate Professor Jeff Aramini, Carmen Krogh and Mr William Palmer from Canada; Dr Alan Watts, Dr Wayne Spring, Dr David Iser, Dr Gary Hopkins, Dr Andja Mitric Andjic, Dr Sarah Laurie, Mr Les Huson, Mr Steven Cooper, Emeritus Professor Colin Hansen and Dr Bob Thorne from Australia; and Associate Professor Rick James, Mr Rob Rand, Mr Stephen Ambrose, Emeritus Professor Jerry Punch, Dr Jay Tibbetts, Dr Sandy Reider, Dr Nina Pierpont, Dr David Lawrence, Dr Paul Schomer, Mr George Hessler, and Dr Bruce Walker from the USA with others from Europe. Wind turbines are increasing in size and are being placed closer to larger human populations and justifiably, there is growing concern all over the world.
For any breastfeeding counsellor or representative within the ABA to be ignoring the serious issue of sleep deprivation is a very real concern. Evidence about sleep deprivation and its role in post natal depression is well accepted. Is this evidence being ignored by the ABA counsellors in the Portland region? Does the ABA disagree with the concerns of the Health and Acoustic Professionals and Researchers listed above?
As a concerned mother and advocate of breastfeeding I ask you to investigate. Impacts of infrasound on breastfeeding cannot be dismissed out of hand by someone without the authority or proper and independent knowledge to do so.
Read the above, acknowledge the depths of this issue and release a public apology. Proper and independent health studies are going to be conducted in the homes of impacted people near these energy plants and until this further study is undertaken and released by the Australian Government then no-one should conclude there are no impacts on residents’ health and quality of life.