The visual impact of wind turbines

Does the sound of money soothe Wind Turbine Syndrome? That’s the provocative suggestion of Australian Simon Chapman, a professor of public health at the University of Sydney, whose recent opinion column effectively demolishes the claim of Dr. Nina Pierpont, a pediatrician, that wind turbine sound is responsible for an ill-defined and poorly documented ailment she calls Wind Turbine Syndrome.

Prof. Chapman lists the gaping holes in Dr. Pierpont’s research–holes that would disqualify her work from serious attention were it not for the many individuals and groups casting about for some reason–any reason–to argue against wind power other than its appearance. And he cites the findings of a recent Dutch study, which include the following quotes:

"[P]eople who benefit economically from wind turbines have a significantly decreased risk of annoyance, despite exposure to similar sound levels," and

"Annoyance was strongly correlated with a negative attitude toward the visual impact of wind farm on the landscape."

Adds Prof. Chapman, "In the September 21, 1899 issue of the British Medical Journal, Britain’s doctors were warned of the dangers of a new technological scourge: the telephone." The medical symptoms described by those afflicted sound somewhat similar to some of the multitude attributed by Dr. Pierpont to wind turbines.

Concludes Prof. Chapman, "Ever since, there has been a long history of sometimes protracted episodes of community concern about health risks said to be caused by new technologies. Some examples include television sets, computer screens, microwave ovens, electric blankets and other household electrical appliances, mobile telephones and base stations. Wind turbines seem likely to enter the annals of technophobic history."

By Tom Gray,