Europe turbines near house

Wind turbines not a health problem, say Germans and Danes.

MEDIA RELEASE, Mount Alexander Sustainability Group, April 4 2012

Over the past four years, claims have been made that large wind turbines cause a wide range of adverse health effects, including tinnitus, headaches and memory and balance problems.

In response to this, there have been 17 Inquiries around the world. All have concluded that there is no scientific evidence for the claims. This has placed the opponents to wind power on very shaky ground.

Now this ground has become even more unstable with the publication of a paper by a former energy economist and researcher, Neil Barrett. Barrett has had a long term interest in wind power since the first turbines were built in Europe in the 1970s. In 2006, he spent a week interviewing people living and working around two large wind farms in Germany . “At that time I heard nothing about any adverse health effects, said Barrett.

Neil Barrett
Neil Barrett

“Three months ago I contacted some of the people I met in 2006 and they confirmed that health effects from wind power are not a significant issue on the agenda in Germany. This is despite the fact that Germany has around 22,000 turbines in an area not a lot bigger than Victoria and much more highly populated.

“Intrigued by the difference between Australia and Europe, I decided to study the situation in both Germany and Denmark more closely. I wrote to MPs and examined over 100 websites of wind opponents, including 80 referred to in glowing terms by Germany’s main conservative newspaper, Der Spiegel.

“Denmark’s parliamentary spokesman on energy, Steen Gade, replied:

`The opponents to windpower in Denmark try to raise the issue of adverse health effects but with little success. It is just not an issue which has achieved much traction in this country. Windpower has strong public acceptance and a majority in parliament support the expansion of windpower capacity, both onshore and offshore’.

“And the Chief Whip for the Greens in the German parliament, Volker Beck, stated that: `Health effects are currently no issue in the debate about wind power in Germany’.

“Even more telling”, writes Barrett, “was the evidence from Wind opposition websites. Of the 80 opposition websites I examined, only 18 devote more than two lines to health effects and not one of them refers to particular cases where individuals have claimed illness or moved away from the turbines. Nor could I locate any press reports of such events.

“I believe there are at least three reasons for the difference between Australia and Europe. One is that the Europeans’ fear of nuclear power makes wind power more attractive. A second is the greater concern about climate change which has led Germany to decide to leave its large brown coal reserves in the ground.

“And the third is the much greater power and influence of the fossil fuel lobby (sometimes called the Greenhouse Mafia) in Australia. Some of the most prominent people and organisations making the health effects claims have close ties to fossil fuel companies.

“One of these is Peter Mitchell who established the Waubra Foundation. Mitchell has spent 25 years in the Australian mining industry and was the founding chairman of Moonie Oil Ltd. He has also successfully fought a wind farm proposal at Stockyard Hill . It is certainly food for thought”.

The paper can be accessed in full at MASG’s website – click here.

10 thoughts on “Wind turbines not a health problem, say Germans and Danes.

  1. I am convinced that perceived illness from turbines is a form of hysteria

    It is real in the mind of the sufferer and probably caused by the turbines but the turbines are not the direct cause of any illness.

    Fear of them is what is causing the problems.

    1. So tell me, where did you get your medical degree? Do you have any credentials or just your own opinion?

      Edit: removed abuse from Dr Steed’s post – please keep discussion civil – Ben Courtice

      1. A doctor is well prepared to diagnose and treat an illness, but is no better placed to decide on whether turbines are causing illnesses than the rest of us. I’ll rely on the science, which shows no direct links between turbines and illness beyond annoyance, fear, anxiety and some loss of sleep in some very susceptible people.

    2. So I read somewhere no one who receives payments from wind turbines suffers ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’ ;) ………. so make it that anyone who lives near a turbine receives some benefit from it. That’s what the Danish and Germans have done to a large extent.

      Seriously, I agree with you – any “illness” is most likely psychosomatic due to the fact that some people just don’t like the look of them or believe the rightwing press that they are a giant, socialist scam.

  2. Barrett has been trying to sell his windfarm to the locals for years. He got stung by Shapero some time ago and is now trying to get landholders to sign up in areas that are not good for wind.

    One needs to remember Barrett’s a fanatic and also a smart businessman; the combination of the two is dangerous. His “paper” is full of holes ans his “experts” are the usual suspects from the wind industry and its followers.

    With Barrett first it was wind, then it was solar because that was “the way to go”, then solar suddenly became non-flavor of the month and wind was back in the money-making sights.

  3. John, fiery ad hominem attacks really aren’t building your case. Point us to one of these holes in the paper? What are the studies that indicate areas are not good for wind and what do you know about the author’s behaviour? Can you actually quantify or specify any of your points, without defaming anyone, or are you just slinging any old mud that comes to hand? Please consider how to frame future comments more constructively if you can – or at least, with clear complaints not vague innuendo.

  4. Neil Barrett did some excellent work there. The language problem is a barrier to that sort of work; of course it is also largely the barrier that stopped the Europeans from finding out that ‘their wind turbines should be making them sick’ (if you are to believe people like Dr Sarah Laurie).

    What is perhaps a little more surprising is that the ‘wind turbines make you ill’ message doesn’t seem to have got to the Western Australians either. I was there a while back and read three articles in three different newspapers; no mention of health concerns. Then I contacted an acquantence in Verve Energy (who run much of the power supply in WA); he said that health was hardly an issue with wind farms in WA.

  5. To John
    Whats the matter with the Castlemaine community making some money out of their own wind resource? 80% of revenue from coal goes overseas. Keep the money here where ever possible! According to our wind display (, we would have generated almost $800,000 since November last year, and make ~$1.6M over a year – imagine what you could do with that kind of money (or even just a fraction of it) re-invested back into a small regional town like ours!

  6. Unfortunately I’ve only just seen these comments a year too late. In reply to ‘John’:
    (a) I wasn’t stung by David Shapiro in any way. We simply decided that we could develop a wind farm ourselves and didn’t need a middle man. (b) I haven’t been involved in community wind since 2011 when the state government put a ban on the site we’d chosen to explore but I admire those who’ve struggled on under difficult conditions (c) i’m still waiting for even one hole to be picked in the paper i wrote on Germany and Denmark in early 2012 (d) my experts have included highly conservative members of the German parliament (e) my attitude to solar pv hasn’t changed since we arranged the first batch of 50 houses in Castlemaine in 2007 and (d) it seems that to be a supporter of wind and solar is sufficient to be labelled a fanatic. I don’t suppose that’s a high price to pay but it would be nice if renewable energy opponents stopped the name calling. Thanks to Ben, Barry and Dave for posting a bit of sense.

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