A report in The Independent has warned that plans for future wind farms in Britain – both off and onshore – could be facing major problems following a recent ruling by the United Nations.
The report describes how a UN legal tribunal has ruled that the UK government has acted illegally “by denying the public decision-making powers over their approval and the necessary information over their benefits or adverse effects”. This is in contravention of Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which “requires full and effective public participation on all environmental issues and demands that citizens are given the right to participate in the process”.
The legal challenge was made by 69-year old Christine Metcalfe, a community councillor from Argyll in Scotland, on behalf of the Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council at a committee hearing in Geneva last December.
According to The Independent she claimed that “the UK’s renewables policies have been designed in such a way that they have denied the public the right to be informed about, or to ascertain, the alleged benefits in reducing CO2 and harmful emissions from wind power, or the negative effects of wind power on health, the environment and the economy”.
Such negative effects include Wind Turbine Syndrome. While some scientists dismiss it out of hand, others are convinced that low-frequency noise or infrasound can indeed make people sick, with symptoms including headaches, sleep disturbance, tinnitus, problems with balance, dizziness, and nausea. Property values near wind farms are also taking a battering.
The wind power industry has been quick to react to the UN ruling. A spokeswoman for wind trade body RenewableUK spoke to on-line publication businessGreen, saying that while they were still looking into the judgment, they did not expect projects to be derailed. A spokesman from the Department of Energy and Climate Change also spoke to the publication saying that it was disappointed by the ruling, but maintained the decision would not affect its ambitions for the deployment of wind power or other renewable energy technologies.