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Wind Turbines Give You Apoplexy

Reactions to the article “Wind Turbines Give You Spots” is encouraging, if contentious. Looks like we’ve mined a thick vein of dispute. Could a simple, happy, smiley Public Relations campaign to promote Wind Power counter this ? I think not !

to: Crisis Forum
from: Jo Abbess
subject: Wind Turbines give you spots. No, seriously…?

from: George Marshall

Hi Jo

well I am a strong supporter of wind power, and clearly some of this stuff is ludicrous, but I think we have to recognise that there are some issues with wind farm noise..

A good friend of our- a committed environmentalist too- is having a lot of problems sleeping because of the deep bass hum of the windfarm on the hill above her in our remote corner of mid wales. She says that ear plugs don;t work because she feels it in her body – its a low bearly audible vibration. She is far from being a neurotic or hyperchondriac and I fully trust what she says. And this is a very common and widelyreported complaint.

I reckon that we need to be concerned if people are being kept up for large parts of the night and consider if there might not be a better way to generate power from wind


from: Jo Abbess

George, George, George,

Please don’t make claims based on subjective evidence of a vanishingly small number of people who I don’t know (and so can’t accuse of being out of their tiny, misinformed minds or troubled in ways psychological).

You say “this is a very common and widelyreported complaint.” Where did you read that ? In The Ecologist ? I’d take what they report with a large pinch of Lo-Salt. Or did you just make that up based on your personal memory. You must meet approximately 20 new people a week, and I bet only 1 in a month complains about wind noise vibrations.

Look, let’s be reasonable, eh ? Let’s get some statistics, some real numbers. Let’s do some tests. There are 17 million people who live relatively happily in London with constant low level background hum from all the cars on all the roads. Have any of them ever complained and wanted to shut down the motorways at night because of the noise ? Would anyone have listened to them ?

And what about London’s new aeroplane banking systems – lots of noise every day. Do people ask for airports to be closed ? Would anyone listen to them ?

Yes, if at all possible, let’s make power from wind in ways that don’t cause people literal or psychologically imagined harm. Let’s just slap wind turbines up in the Peak District, the Lake District, up the Penines and all over Scotland and uninhabited West Wales.

from: Naveed Naz

“Let’s get some statistics, some real numbers. Let’s do some tests. There are 17 million people who live relatively happily in London”

Oh the irony, it’s poetic! Sorry Luv, but I’m pretty sure they’re only ~8 million people in London

Yeah I know its pedantic, but I thought thats the game you were playing.

“Have any of them [Londoners] ever complained and wanted to shut down the motorways at night because of the noise ? Would anyone have listened to them ?”

Yes and Yes

“Do people ask for airports to be closed ? Would anyone listen to them ?”


. . . and maybe

Now my 2cents. I dont know how much noise wind turbines make but
a quick google isn’t conclusive, this article goes into what George is possibly talking about:

Now that is from a mainstream newspaper so I wont take it as a particularly well researched article, and this Dr Nina Pierpont could be a shill for some big energy firm. Oh yes, if anyone has EndNote or access to Web-of-Science and feels particularly investigative, could you search her name to see if she actually published a peer-reviewed article, and check the forward citations to see if they’re positive (like she claims). But none the less, low frequency noise could be a real problem, and if it is, we should deal with it – not tuck it underneath the carpet. Hell!! If we can frakkin’ put a man on the moon surely we can solve this problem! If there is one.


to: Naveed Naz

Doh ! (Homer Simpson-esque surprise disappointment at oneself)

Pretty bad typo, eh ? Written in haste, repented at leisure etc. I meant 7 million, of course, although that’s wrong too :-

“In July 2007, it had an official population of 7,556,900 within the boundaries of Greater London”

“London’s population was 7,172,000 on the latest Census Day of April 2001. This is 14.6 per cent of the total population of Britain. The population in 2005 was thought to have been about 7,518,000.”

The point I’m trying to get across about the “noise” issue is that it’s a very large red herring. Why do we have to stop wind farm development because of low background noise ? If we have to stop wind farm development because of low background noise then we should stop all the cars, trucks, planes and domestic appliances with electric motors, people playing boom’n’bass hi-fi etc etc

Also, and this is I think key, the argument about “wind turbines shake you sick” propaganda would put us in a cleft stick : can’t build the turbines near people, can’t build them in national parks (oh, the outcry !) :-

“Wind farm to be built on borders of Peak District : Britain’s most beautiful landscapes are under threat after permission was given for a wind farm to be built on the outskirts of the Peak District National Park, environmental campaigners have warned. : By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent : Published: 3:39PM BST 17 Jul 2009…”

Plus siting wind farms away from human population means the whole wind power system will again be “centralised” in the hands of the few in the remote districts.

Plus it will involve massive investment in the National Grid if all the wind comes from Up North.

Remember : we can only put a man on the Moon again if we have a massive propaganda programme that diverts massive amounts of resources into a NASA equivalent.

Ed Miliband wants all the greenies to volunteer to preach to the rest of the nation : “Make them love Wind”, he seems to be saying. I gave up proselytising years ago and I’m not a salesperson, and I know many, many people that want Wind Power, who also don’t want to tell other people how to think.

Maybe we should have a massive national educational programme about Wind Power ? Who would pay for that ? Would it be the Government ?

“Opposing wind farms should be socially taboo, says Ed Miliband : Allegra Stratton, political correspondent : The Guardian, Tuesday 24 March 2009 : Opposition to wind farms should become as socially unacceptable as failing to wear a seatbelt, Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, has said…”

I don’t think much of the Government’s current propaganda campaign which seems to consist of “the people need to change their behaviour at home and we have to tell them” : ActonCO2.

Why don’t the Government themselves Act on CO2 ? Put some real money into social adjustment programmes to Peak Energy, Climate Change and Renewable Energy ? Haven’t got the inner strength ? Can’t justify the budget lines ? Oh dearie, dearie me. They can throw money at Rolls-Royce to make turbines (to be used for Natural Gas and New Nuclear plant). £130 million in total. But they can’t throw any serious money at Wind Power.

We’re all doomed, I tell you.

from: Naveed Naz

I like combined heat and power (CHP) generators for homes because it’s significantly more efficient than delivering electricity to peoples home, which is then used for heating and electrical use. Quite simply only 1/3 of the energy in fossil fuels is converted into electricity – the rest ends up in the cooling towers, which is why CHP is such a great idea. I believe the loss from the electrical grid is something like 9%. Overall this means that decentralising a purely electrical generation system, like windpower, probably isn’t that important. Infact for most renewable energies I dont think decentralisation is that efficient.

Regarding windpower sites, my old MP (Alan Whitehead, Southampton Test) has on numerous times asked the government whether old MOD land can be used as a site for wind turbines – the MOD almost never answers back, or gives a vague answer. However, the issue is that there IS suitable land out there! Maybe some PR campaign *cough* Greenpeace readers *cough* could embarrass the government into giving up that land?

On jetplanes, as I write this a plane has just gone over my head. Planes go over my head frequently (about every 40 seconds), and they’re so close that I can sometimes see the people’s faces against the window. That’s cause I live about 500 metres from the Eastern Perimeter fence of Heathrow Airport and almost directly underneath one of the landing paths! I’ve lived most my life here (born less than 7 miles from Heathrow, primary school was within caterpult distance of airport – dont ask how I know this, dad worked at Heathrow until he retired, sister works there, I used to work-part time during undergrad days!). So I have some authority on the matter. There’s only 2 runways to the busiest airport in Europe so you can imagine what its like living undeath one of them! Right? Sadly you’re wrong 🙁 I dont like airplane noise and I’m a light sleeper. Fortunately the planes dont disturb, does that sounds like a paradox?

The paradox is easily resolved. Thats because our house has triple-glazing with sound proofing section, thick loft insulation with sound insulation layer, cavity walls (probably filled with something), sound-proofing tiles on the ceiling of every floor, spongy wallpaper, and god-knows what else my dad installed to make this house sound-proof! The result is that I hear virtually nothing above the hum of my laptop! BUT, I can hear the Chavs down the road when they start up their drum n base orgy!

You can’t compare the high pitched noise of FOUR screaming 747 jet engines (about maybe 200 meters above my head?) to the deep-bass of low-freq noise. The high-pitched stuff is easily defeated, the low stuff you probably can’t get rid of.

Finally. Obviously you’d want an energy mix, you wouldn’t rely on one type of technology.


PS: Sorry for the long post

PPS: Would like to point out the obvious, outside the house the airplane noise becomes a significant nusiance – you can’t hold a conversation in the garden without words being missed 🙁

to: Claverton Energy Forum
from: Jo Abbess
subject: A battle for the hearts and minds of windy Middle England?

It’s not 1st April, so it must be the “silly season” that has brought out this story : wind turbines make you sick (apparently).

After a long list of propaganda accusations such as : wind turbines are noisy, they kill birds, they give you epileptic fits, they spoil the landscape, now, it is alleged, they shake your body to ill-health.

Remarkable piece of medical science apparently !

from: Hugh Sharman

Jo, but wind turbines are noisy, they do kill birds, they do give some people epileptic fits (in Frederikshavn, Denmark), they do spoil the landscape (ever been in Galicia recently? Why do you think Danes are OK with (monster) windmills as long as they are over-the-horizon offshore). Beware of the fascist tendency of modern greenies, which, BTW, I used to be!!

to: Hugh Sharman


Are you calling me a “fascist” “greenie” ? You can call me strict with a fondness for public order and legislation, but please, please don’t call me an “environmentalist” without qualifying that !

Wind Turbines kill birds : but cars kill more birds than wind turbines. And cats kill more birds than cars. Read David MacKay’s “Without Hot Air” for the numbers.

We would do far better if we slapped up some Wind Turbines and took some cars off the roads (and set up a curfew for cats between 5pm and 9pm).

I was in Spain a few years ago, travelling around by train and I wept with joy when I saw a ridge of Wind Turbines. They were so beautiful.

No, wind turbines are not noisy on the whole. There are some wind turbines that have had noise issues, but come with me to all the new wind farms and just listen in. Not a peep. Just a gentle whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.

The Danish people have lots of community wind turbines onshore.

Epilepsy ? Please !

“Q To the best of your knowledge, are there any documented human or animal health impacts associated with shadow flicker from wind turbines?”

“A No, not from wind turbines. We did investigate the possibility of photosensitive epilepsy sensitivity from the Project. Photosensitive epilepsy is a type of epilepsy which is triggered from the flickering or flashing of light in people suffering from that kind of epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation has excellent information available which explains photosensitive epilepsy. The frequency known to trigger seizures is between 5 and 30 flashes per second. The shadow flicker frequency from wind turbines vary between 0.5 and 1 flashes per second for all of the turbine scenarios under consideration for the Project, which is considerably less than the frequency known to trigger photosensitive epilepsy seizures.”

from: Hugh Sharman


Thanks. I see that I very foolishly sent what was meant to be a private observation to you, to the whole of Claverton! Damn ! I apologize for another email error.

And Sigh!! No I am not calling you anything at all. I do not know you. However, I was only observing that the UK renewable energy “community” contains lots of folk with extreme views about what is and is not “acceptable” to discuss – or even to think.

Their confident pronouncements bring to mind the many unpleasant greenies of my own generation to whom I was vaguely attracted when starting up the UK’s first, all-purpose renewable energy company during the 1970s. Conservation Tools and Technology was a massive but personal failure – all my fault. I recall with some shame the adrenalin-fueled anger that sustained me for much of my working day. It is too easy to recognise the same tendency in many of the pages of Claverton and particularly in the actions of Greenpeace. Ed Milliband’s recent and appalling pronouncement about the “unacceptability” of contrarian views over on-shore wind makes my case.

Just for the record, and almost entirely because I see dwindling fossil resources as the greatest and most immediate threat to the well being of my children and grandchildren (not to mention the rest of mankind!), I do wish for the commercial success of renewable energy technologies and am pro-actively working towards that by helping to commercialise an electricity storage system ( In the mean time, it is my desire that the strengths and weaknesses of these technologies shall be better understood and that their often negative consequences on the environment and people should be minimized or even eliminated.

I am not going to get involved in a public spat in Claverton over what I see as quite legitimate differences of views and values. I shall continue to use some time and effort to preserve the right to disagree with “consensus” views over public policy, especially AGWarming. Or “climate change” as some now call it. As if climate change were not the most constant phenomenon throughout the history of our planet.

Any way, best regards and good luck!

from: correspondent

Hi Jo

I believe we have some common ‘campaigning’ ground…the Pro Wind Alliance – see website at

The “Wind Turbine Syndrome” you were referring to came up at the public inquiry relating to Nuon’s Swinford Wind Farm proposal the other day.

For connection between Hanning and Pierpoint see

Best wishes

from: Tom Barker

I went to the public inquiry into the wind farm at Cemmaes Ridge, which was the first one in Wales. As the CPRW were bleating on about noise (and the fact that the turbines would be seen from the top of Cader Idris, nine miles away, on a clear day), two RAF jets screamed directly overhead, stopping the proceedings for a minute or so. Low level noise can be a problem, and people can become sensitised to it, but it can be overcome with sympathetic siting of the machines. Off-shore is good, too.


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