An extract from the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines Final Report

Professor Chapman and his critics

2.19      Professor Simon Chapman AO, Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, has been an outspoken critic of those who suffer ill-effects from wind turbines. In both his written and oral submissions, Professor Chapman cited many of his own publications in support for his view that:

…the phenomenon of people claiming to be adversely affected by exposure to wind turbines is best understood as a communicated disease that exhibits many signs of the classic psychosocial and nocebo phenomenon where negative expectations can translate into symptoms of tension and anxiety.

2.20      Several highly qualified and very experienced professionals have challenged this argument. Dr Malcolm Swinbanks, an acoustical engineer based in the United Kingdom, reasoned:

The argument that adverse health reactions are the result of nocebo effects, ie a directly anticipated adverse reaction, completely fails to consider the many cases where communities have initially welcomed the introduction of wind turbines, believing them to represent a clean, benign form of low-cost energy generation. It is only after the wind-turbines are commissioned, that residents start to experience directly the adverse nature of the health problems that they can induce.

2.21      The committee highlights the fact that Professor Chapman is not a qualified, registered nor experienced medical practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist, acoustician, audiologist, physicist or engineer. Accordingly:

  • he has not medically assessed a single person suffering adverse health impacts from wind turbines;
  • his research work has been mainly—and perhaps solely—from an academic perspective without field studies;
  • his views have been heavily criticised by several independent medical and acoustic experts in the international community; and
  • many of his assertions do not withstand fact check analyses.

2.22      Professor Chapman has made several claims which are contrary to the evidence gathered by this committee. First, he argues that the majority of Australia’s wind turbines have never received a single complaint. There are various problems with this statement:

  1. wind turbines located significant distances from residents will not generate complaints;
  2. many residents suffering adverse health effects were not aware of any nexus between their health and the impact of wind turbines in order to make a complaint;
  3. just because residents do not lodge a formal complaint does not mean they are not suffering adverse health effects;
  4. data obtained by Professor Chapman from wind farm operators of the numbers of complaints lodged cannot be relied upon; and
  5. the use of non-disclosure clauses and ‘good neighbour agreements’ legally restricts people from making adverse public statements or complaints.

2.23      Second, Professor Chapman has argued that complaints of adverse health effects from wind turbines tend to be limited to Anglophone nations. However, the committee has received written and oral evidence from several sources directly contradicting this view. The German Medical Assembly recently submitted a motion to the executive board of the German Medical Association calling for the German government to provide the necessary funding to research adverse health effects. This would not have happened in the absence of community concern. Moreover, Dr Bruce Rapley has argued that in terms of the limited number—and concentrated nature—of wind farm complaints:

It is the reporting which is largely at fault. The fact is that people are affected by this, and the numbers are in the thousands. I only have to look at the emails that cross my desk from all over the world. I get bombarded from the UK, Ireland, France, Canada, the United States, Australia, Germany. There are tonnes of these things out there but, because the system does not understand the problem, nor does it have a strategy, many of those complaints go unlisted.

2.24      Third, Professor Chapman has queried that if turbines are said to have acute, immediate effects on some people, why were there no such reports until recent years given that wind turbines have operated in different parts of the world for over 25 years. Several submissions to the committee have stated that adverse health effects from wind turbines do not necessarily have an acute immediate effect and can take time to manifest.

2.25      Fourth, Professor Chapman contests that people report symptoms from even micro-turbines. The committee heard evidence that once people are sensitised to low frequency infrasound, they can be affected by a range of noise sources, including large fans used in underground coal mines, coal fired power stations, gas fired power stations and even small wind turbines. As acoustician Dr Bob Thorne told the committee:

Low-frequency noise from large fans is a well-known and well-published issue, and wind turbines are simply large fans on top of a big pole; no more, no less. They have the same sort of physical characteristics; it is just that they have some fairly unique characteristics as well. But annoyance from low-frequency sound especially is very well known.

2.26      Fifth, Professor Chapman contends that there are apparently only two known examples anywhere in the world of wind turbine hosts complaining about the turbines on their land. However, there have been several Australian wind turbine hosts who have made submissions to this inquiry complaining of adverse health effects. Paragraphs 2.11–2.12 (above) noted the example of Mr Clive Gare and his wife from Jamestown. Submitters have also directed attention to the international experience. In Texas in 2014, twenty-three hosts sued two wind farm companies despite the fact that they stood to gain more than $50 million between them in revenue. The committee also makes the point that contractual non-disclosure clauses and ‘good neighbour’ agreements have significantly limited hosts from speaking out. This was a prominent theme of many submissions.

2.27      Sixth, Professor Chapman claims that there has been no case series or even single case studies of so-called wind turbine syndrome published in any reputable medical journal. But Professor Chapman does not define ‘reputable medical journal’ nor does he explain why the category of journals is limited to medical (as distinct, for example, from scientific or acoustic). The committee cannot therefore challenge this assertion. However, the committee does note that a decision to publish—or not to publish—an article in a journal is ultimately a business decision of the publisher: it does not necessarily reflect the quality of the article being submitted, nor an acknowledgment of the existence or otherwise of prevailing circumstances. The committee also notes that there exist considerable published and publicly available reports into adverse health effects from wind turbines.

2.28      The committee also notes that a peer reviewed case series crossover study involving 38 people was published in the form of a book by American paediatrician Dr Nina Pierpont, PhD, MD. Dr Pierpont’s Report for Clinicians and the raw case data was submitted by her to a previous Australian Senate inquiry (2011) to which Dr Pierpont also provided oral testimony. Further, at a workshop conducted by the NHMRC in June 2011, acoustical consultant Dr Geoffrey Leventhall stated that the symptoms of ‘wind turbine syndrome’ (as identified by Dr Pierpont), and what he and other acousticians refer to as ‘noise annoyance’, were the same. Dr Leventhall has also acknowledged Dr Pierpont’s peer reviewed work in identifying susceptibility or risk factors for developing wind turbine syndrome / ‘noise annoyance’. Whilst Dr Leventhall is critical of some aspects of Dr Pierpont’s research, he does state:

Pierpont has made one genuine contribution to the science of environmental noise, by showing that a proportion of those affected have underlying medical conditions, which act to increase their susceptibility.

2.29      Seventh, Professor Chapman claims that no medical practitioner has come forward with a submission to any committee in Australia about having diagnosed disease caused by a wind farm. Again, Professor Chapman fails to define ‘disease’. Nonetheless, both this committee, and inquiries undertaken by two Senate Standing Committees, have received oral and written evidence from medical practitioners contrary to Professor Chapman’s claim.

2.30      Eighth, Professor Chapman claims that there is not a single example of an accredited acoustics, medical or environmental association which has given any credence to direct harmful effects of wind turbines. The committee notes that the semantic distinction between ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ effects is not helpful. Dr Leventhall and the NHMRC describe stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation as ‘indirect’ effects, but these ailments nonetheless affect residents’ health.

2.31      Finally, Professor Chapman queries why there has never been a complainant that has succeeded in a common-law suit for negligence against a wind farm operator. This statement is simply incorrect. The committee is aware of court judgements against wind farm operators, operators making out of court settlements or withdrawing from proceedings, injunctions or shutdown orders being granted against operators, and properties adjacent to wind turbines being purchased by operators to avoid future conflict. The committee also reiterates its earlier point that contractual non-disclosure clauses have discouraged legal action by victims.

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Source.

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45 Responses to An extract from the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines Final Report

  1. Rabz

    Wow. Is there any controversial public policy ‘issue’ on which Perfesser Crapman isn’t a self declared expert?

  2. ian

    I saw that brave lady, don’t know her name, she is taking on the bird munching industry on health grounds, on Alan Jones’ show on SKY the other day.Also on was Lib Dem Senator David L. Every Aussie should be made to watch that interview, bloody scary stuff. The same lady submitted a report to the Senate Committee and informed them that she is persona non grata at their ABC, her emails are auto blocked, in fact she was to be interviewed by Vic rural ABC reporter on the subject and was unable to email him background info. We live in the USSR 1950’s era.

  3. H B Bear

    I’m assuming this isn’t one of those Dastayari and Hyphen-SeaPatrol Senate show trials.

  4. Fred Lenin

    Hey Rabz ,you got this guys number I suggest windmills in all public parks in the inner city slums inhabitated by green commos wonder how long it would be before the Yuppies had Slugs and Grubs and morrie blackballs on the job against the millionaire socialists who own the big fans ? Another question how much is this perfesser ” export” is being paid by Gore and mates to lie to the punters?

  5. Pickles

    Never before, in the history of self appointed expertism, has one been buried so completely and deeply.
    Put that on your CV.

  6. Rabz

    Indeed, Freddo, the Perfesser is clearly in the pay of “big wind”, which would explain why he is such a big windbag.

  7. It might also be profitable to look into the legal action that was brought against the operators of the twin gas-fired turbine power station in Laverton (you drive past it on the way to Geelong) of which I was initially skeptical, but a colleague in the power industry explained that in fact the two turbines would sometimes be very slightly out of sync and whilst individually they were silent from over the road, the two of them together had set up a very low frequency vibration that was rattling windows and making life unbearable in nearby companies.

  8. Megan

    About time someone took this would be Puritan to task for his consistently fact free argument and fallacy filled ranting on a variety of subjects all involving the banning or taxing of something or other. Will such a comprehensive burial make any difference? I’m guessing no.

  9. Des Deskperson

    This is the citation for Chapman’s AO award , given in 2013:

    ‘For distinguished service to medical research as an academic and author, particularly in the area of public health policy, and to the community.’

    And he has no medical quals whatsoever? Makes our honours system look at best slapdash and gullible and at worst crony- infected.

  10. Talleyrand

    1984 (finished, graduation ceremony 1986): PhD in Medicine Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Sydney. Subject: Cigarette advertising as myth: a re-evaluation of the relationship of advertising to smoking. Published as: Chapman S. Great Expectorations: Advertising and the tobacco industry Comedia: London 1986 ISBN 0906 890 86 1).

    1970-2: Bachelor of Arts, University of New South Wales (3 years sociology; 3 years psychology; 2 years philosophy; 1 year English).

    1977: Masters qualifying program at Centre for Medical Education and Research Development, University of New South Wales. Thesis: Advertising and psychotropic drugs - the place of myth in ideological reproduction. Awarded Honours II(1) by School of Sociology UNSW. Thesis read into Federal Parliamentary Hansard in proceedings of Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare's Report on the use and abuse of medication available over the counter or on prescription. (published as Another Side to the Drug Debate ... a medicated society?. AGPS 1981) and edited version published in Social Science & Medicine

    Excerpted from Prof Chapman’S Online CV as published January 2015

    Can’t understand how Sydney Uni decided to award a PHD in Medicine to an Arts Grad with no apparent clinical training and experience.

    It is like being a BA in History and Philosophy of Science then becoming a PHD in Experimental Physics

  11. Tel

    the use of non-disclosure clauses and ‘good neighbour agreements’ legally restricts people from making adverse public statements or complaints.

    WFT?!?

    If ever there was something that should be rendered unenforceable across the board it would be “no complaint” contracts.

  12. Lysander

    Does Dr Chapman have a (pecuniary) interest here? (for a doctor he is)

  13. .

    So Crapman is qualified in psychology, philosophy, literature and advertising/marketing?

    He’s basically a marketing lecturer making public policy decisions and giving lectures on health.

  14. .

    Thesis: Advertising and psychotropic drugs – the place of myth in ideological reproduction. Awarded Honours II(1) by School of Sociology UNSW. Thesis read into Federal Parliamentary Hansard in proceedings of Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare’s Report on the use and abuse of medication available over the counter or on prescription. (published as Another Side to the Drug Debate … a medicated society?. AGPS 1981) and edited version published in Social Science & Medicine

    Great. This twit is why the Pharmacy Guild holds us to ransom in getting life saving drugs for chronic conditions.

  15. Lysander

    So Crapman is qualified in psychology, philosophy, literature and advertising/marketing?

    He’s basically a marketing lecturer making public policy decisions and giving lectures on health.

    Whaddayasay Sinc? Do us fellow uni travellers have to fill out a pecuniary interest form these days?

  16. Bruce

    This sounds like the same Simon Chapman who has contributed frequently and quite poisonously in the seemingly endless campaign of harassment and demonisation of shooters and firearms owners in general in this country.

    A bit like that prat from the “pedestrian council” and sundry other “sacred causes”; “organisations” that are essentially one tosser with a computer and a desperate need to be noticed and get his face on TV.

  17. .

    Isn’t the saying “five people and a fax machine”?

  18. PeterF

    Have to agree with Mr Lenin.The sooner these giant fans are placed in urban areas and places such as offshore Bondi the sooner they will be forgotten about.As coal mines can’t go ahead because of some lizard or snake,why do these monstrosities have precedence over the bird population. There must be a rare bird somewhere close by to a wind farm.

  19. The intro was some of the best paragraphs i have ever read in my life.

    That is the most clinical skewering of a greentard i have ever seen in print

    #greensarepoison

  20. Lem

    I wouldn’t be too concerned. Once the money runs out, and necessity dictates, the madness will end and mothballed proven methods of electricity generation soon re-establish themselves. BUT it is only after the peeps have found out what it is like to not have that cheap and seemingly invisible thing of electricity.

    The fact is, in a democracy run by fools, it is necessary for people to generally suffer for a period to learn the truth.

    Let it happen.

  21. Walter Plinge

    Chapman’s reputation, such as it was, has been shredded, minced, and fed to the dogs. As a result he’ll do very well in academia and on the ABC.

  22. sabrina

    Anyone can give expert view on any matter in this country – as long as he/she comes from a university!
    Closes to that comes an ex-Treasurer giving a lecture on clean coal technology at a conference in Xian. Good to see who pays for the whatever class of air travel and hotel accommodation.

  23. wreckage

    Somebody just got demolished systematically and in detail.

  24. Gab

    This take-down of Chapman was so exquisite I had to read it again just for the sheer pleasure of it.

  25. John

    “The committee highlights the fact that Professor Chapman is not a qualified, registered nor experienced medical practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist, acoustician, audiologist, physicist or engineer”

    What is the Professor Chapman professor of – toothfairy reproduction? Who employs him, who pays him and why?

  26. Boambee John

    There must be a rare bird somewhere close by to a wind farm.

    Peter,

    One of John Howard’s environment ministers tried to stop a wind farm to protect the orange-bellied parrot or some such. Greenies took him to court and won!

  27. Tel

    What is the Professor Chapman professor of – toothfairy reproduction? Who employs him, who pays him and why?

    He professes, what’s your problem?

  28. robk

    I have had a keen interest in wind turbines for some thirty years and have owned two small units (3kW & 50kW) in an isolated setting, off grid for about 20 years.
    For the uninitiated, these machines have their place in limited aplications. Whilst there is a variety of arrangements and not all turbines are created equal, you wouldn’t want to raise your family under one. Here are several reasons why:
    Wind power is a cubed function of wind speed. At low to medium wind speed to say 20 kmh the output of the turbine is small and you get the Teletuby sensation of useful work being in a stress free condition. At 40kph most turbines are at maximum output. Depending on your point of view the machine is humming or roaring. Exceeding this wind speed the machines first turn slightly out the winds path while still trying to output useful power. Under these conditions it is stressful for most people to be in tthe vicinity of the turbine. Ultimately the turbine should shut down at greater wind speed. Under these conditions the tip speed of the blades is inexcess of 250kmh, the air is turbulent, not unlike watching the wing tip of a jet liner in heavy turbulence, from outside. The sources of sound are numerous, including: three blade vortices spiraling around each other, not in a smooth manner but modulated because the wind speed at the top of the sweep is far greater than the wind speed at the lower portion but the blabes have a unison rotational speed. When a blade passes the support tower there’s a shudder in the blades and the rest of the machine. When the machines slew to feather out of the high wind speed, each blade in one revolution must not only run with and against gravity, with and against the wind, endure a massive pulse as it passes a dead spot of the tower, there is also at this stage the mechanical and electrical grind as hundreds of kW are being twisted into the grid. This is nothing like the good proffessor’s comment likening it to the infra sound of walking, that’s just being condescending.I have little doubt that living within earshot (or in the infra sound case perhaps further), is not the same as seeing one on a breezy day. Under the exceptional conditions they can roar and be unsettling.

  29. Rohan

    It is like being a BA in History and Philosophy of Science then becoming a PHD in Experimental Physics

    Kind of like Tim Flannery.

  30. hzhousewife

    If only young Simon (Prof) could send some time with robk on a windy day.
    No work experience in his job, that Prof.

  31. Rohan

    robk, those windmill issues reminds me of my year 12 physics option in “alternative energy”, or whatever it was called. I lived in Wangaratta and we all had a half day trip out to a greenfilth architect, who had this woefull self built A-framed house about 5 years old. He walked us out the back to show us his hand made windmill. He waxed lyrical about it then one of the class asked “what’s that over there?”, pointing to a whole pile of scrap metal and fibreglass. Well I shit you not, he started on the whole history of 13 failed windmill designs. So each and every time in his 5 years that the wind picked up to a half decent blow, his windmills disintegrated.

    The funny thing was that on the way back in the bus, the teacher was waxing lyrical about this clown and his “vision”. But one of the class was a neighbour and pointed out this dickhead had started a fire on a 40C+ TFB, by welding a broken gate, in waiste high tinder dry grass and no extinguisher or even a bucket of water present. Nearly cost 3 farmers their properties.

  32. The issue might be amplified by or even limited to multiple wind turbines in proximity creating a low frequency harmonic that is far more powerful than any of the higher frequency / audible noise.

    My parents, who lived through WW2 in Kent, England, used to talk endlessly – if you let them – about the aerial fights and the bomber convoys passing overhead, both friendly and hostile. They often spoke of the powerful low frequency ‘throb’ present when large numbers of bombers passed overhead and which they said “would shake your body”. This sound was apparently much louder than the massed aero engines themselves. It seems to have been a harmonic caused by dozens of propellers all running at about the same speed, but perhaps fractionally out of sync in one or more ways. When I was young, and many of these planes were still flying, I remember an air display where they had some flying together, and the throb was apparent even with just three or four Lancasters or whatever they were.

    Normally we think of a harmonic as being much lower in amplitude than the main sound sources causing it, but in this case it appears that the harmonic was somehow louder.

    I’ve lived with multiple instances of single small wind turbines and they range from easily ignorable to fairly annoying, depending on the blade design and wind speed. Some are screamers in a high wind, but it’s all high frequency, has no hidden drawbacks, and can be excluded to a certain degree by soundproofing.

    One turbine of small size has no real drawbacks. I’m guessing that a large one isn’t too bad either, in most cases and for most of the time; but when you start stacking multiple propellers running at the same speed, you might find there are unexpected issues. The bigger the props, the bigger the issues, most likely.

    Prop design is a big subject and you can pretty much guarantee that no one knows much about running multiple giant turbines slightly out of sync. And if they do know anything, the cure is not commercially viable at this time. In the UK, they build wind turbine farms offshore in shallow, calm water in the Thames Estuary: the most windless sea area in the UK and the cheapest place to build one and get the grant. Apparently, the returns are not a priority, otherwise they would never build one there. So, as in everything, unbalanced economic pressures rule.

  33. John

    “The committee highlights the fact that Professor Chapman is not a qualified, registered nor experienced medical practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist, acoustician, audiologist, physicist or engineer”

    How many of these unqualified “professors” are in Australia? Could somebody compile a list? It should not take more than 500 pages of A4 printing paper (double sided single line printing)!

  34. John

    These wind turbines should be positioned as close as possible to city centres. This would make a great savings on transmission cost as they could be plugged directly into the grid.

  35. hzhousewife

    ALPBC were quoting young Simon this morning re his expertise in anti-smoking – the NSW prison meltdown is scheduled for Monday apparently.

  36. JMH

    So who is the “wing-nut” Professor Chapman? Not the poor unfortunates you cruelly labelled wing-nuts who have suffered ill-health and other problems because of the foul, fraudulent and pernicious wind industry. Chapman hasn’t had to abandon his home because nobody with their faculties intact would purchase a property within 20 km of an industrial wind factory.

    It will be interesting to see whether Chapman is ever called again as an “expert witness” for his beloved wind industry at tribunals or court cases now he has been so magnificently outed as an unmitigated wanker. I think his credibility on anything now has been dealt a lethal blow – and not before time.

  37. Fred Lenin

    Cats do Crapmans “qualifications ” make him a Spin Doctor .?sounds possible to me . The country is full of Wankers with “qualifications ” ,which are absolutely useless ,unproductive and a total waste of space.defund humanities “studies ” , make the buggers pay for the Bullshit course themselves .

  38. Harry Osborne

    In a nutshell – all too subjective: –
    To us our wind farm has given once maddening wind PURPOSE. Unlike most of those complaining, I (like my father before me) endure working in the near constant wind, often for weeks on end, suffering wind burn, dust, freezing or scorching, whilst watching crops dry out, good seasons disappear and staff leave. If anything I have been saved from the resultant torment, anger & resentment, by the winds purpose of task.

  39. John

    How about Professor Garnaut? How is he qualified on subject of climate change, global warming, CO2 and all other bullshit?

  40. wreckage

    I’m just checking back to see if anyone knows if Pf Chapman is enjoying the use of his new arsehole?

  41. Walter Plinge

    Chris Price: you reminded me that this phenomenon is well known in organ circles where it’s called harmonic or resultant bass. It’s used to produce bass notes with pipes that are half the length that would otherwise be required. This is what could be producing infra-sound in wind turbines.

    When pure tones (sine waves) are sounded together, they combine to produce two additional tones whose frequencies are the sum and difference of the two original tones. For example, if the original frequencies are 32hz and 48hz, the resultant frequencies will be 80hz and 16 hz. While this effect occurs at all frequencies, it is most effective to the human ear at low frequencies. (This same acoustical principle is used by celestes to produce a different effect.) This effect was discovered by Tartini around 1714 and by Sorge in 1740.
    These stops use this acoustical effect to produce tones in the 32′ and 64′ octaves, using smaller (and thus less costly) pipes than would normally be necessary. One of these stops, labeled as 32′ or 64′ pitch, is comprised of two ranks which sound the 1st and 2nd harmonics of the desired pitch (that is, an octave and a twelfth above the desired pitch). For a 32′ stop, the two ranks are 16′ and 10-2/3′; for a 64′ stop, the two ranks are 32′ and 21-1/3′. This effect was first used in the organ by Abt Vogler (1749-1814). The first 64′ resultant stops were probably introduced in the late 19th century. Some builders have experimented with using resultant tones in the 16′ octave, but it is not an effective replacement for a true 16′ stop.

  42. Jim Wiegand- Wildlife Biologist

    Professor Chapman is nothing more than a wind-up toy created by the wind industry. I have read his idiotic comments and articles pertaining to wind energy impacts. A real expert could never be so wrong.

  43. Jim Wiegand- Wildlife Biologist

    For the nutty professor, a quote from the California Energy Commission that was published in 1985………
     
    “Both audible and low frequency sounds can be produced by operating WTGs (wind turbines). The noises produced and their impacts will differ according to machine design, and size, and site specific characteristics such as topography. Noise has not been an issue where wind farms are in isolated locations. However are beginning to receive complaints about noise where wind development is occurring near populated areas. Alameda County has received a substantial number of complaints about the noise levels from residents near Altamont Pass. If new wind farms are to be located near existing residences or businesses, mitigation measures for noise may be necessary. Such mitigation measures can include testing of the wind turbine(s) prior to installation to determine the level of audible and impulse noise generated by operation, monitoring of noise levels as individual WTGs come on-line, and requiring compliance with local noise standards or ordinances.”
     

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