Recently by James Delingpole: David Cameron, Renewable Energy and the Death of British Property Rights
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?’
I’ve since heard dozens of similar stories from nurses, farmers, panel-beaters, civil servants, businessmen and forestry workers across the world, from New South Wales to Sweden and Pembrokeshire.
The symptoms they claim to have suffered may vary – dizziness; balance problems; memory loss; inability to concentrate; insomnia; tachycardia; increased blood pressure; raised cortisol levels; headaches; nausea; mood swings; anxiety; tinnitus; palpitations; depression – but the theme remains the same.
Here are ordinary people who settled in the country for a quiet life only to have their lives and property values trashed at the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen.
In December 2011, in a peer-reviewed report in the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, Dr Carl Phillips – one of the U.S.’s most distinguished epidemiologists – concluded that there is ‘overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents, usually stress-disorder type diseases, at a nontrivial rate’.
According to a study by U.S. noise control engineer Rick James, wind farms generate the same symptoms as Sick Building Syndrome – the condition that plagued office workers in the Eighties and Nineties as a result of what was eventually discovered to be the Low Frequency Noise (LFN), caused by misaligned air conditioning systems.
The combination of LFN and ‘amplitude modulation’ (loudness that goes up and down) leads to fatigue, poor concentration and dizziness.
And sleep specialist Dr Chris Hanning believes it stimulates an alert response, leading to arousal episodes throug the night that make restful sleep impossible.
‘I’ve spoken with many sufferers and sadly the only treatment is for them to move away from the wind farm.’
But if the problem is really so widespread, why isn’t it better known?
The short answer is money: the wind industry is a hugely lucrative business with millions to spend on lobbying.
What’s more, until recently, it benefited from the general public mood that ‘something ought to be done about climate change’ and wind power – supposedly ‘free’, ‘renewable’ and ‘carbon-friendly’ – was the obvious solution.
‘For years among the metropolitan elite it has been considered heretical to criticise wind power,’ says Heaton-Harris.