Written in 2016 by Peter Mitchell; ‘Human rights and wind energy projects’ will be posted on DeFrock in five parts.
This document is a review of the possible breaches by wind energy projects of various of the human rights of people living in the vicinity of a wind project. It identifies and considers a number of potential breaches of varying impact and of differing ease or difficulty of establishing. In this context the rights to health, safe working conditions and property may be the simplest to establish whether breaches have or have not occurred.
Readers of this document need to understand that it is not in any way a legal argument and that whilst all reasonable steps have been taken in its construction the author makes no representation that the information is complete nor that the analysis and conclusions are correct.
Those interested in the subject should obtain their own advice before proceeding with a formal complaint.
Peter R Mitchell AM, BChe
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Independent acoustical and medical professionals(xiii) are satisfied that victims are exposed to airborne pressure waves (sound) and possibly ground borne pressure waves (vibration) to the point which is, for some victims, unbearable and quite clearly cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
The fact that the intensity of the treatment varies from person to person is irrelevant. So is the number of victims. Article 5 is clear no one should be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Wind projects are built in windy areas close to power transmission facilities. Generally this involves areas zoned rural with varying rural housing densities. Once a site has been selected there is little chance that locals can influence the site choice.
Nor are the locals afforded any protection. First because the relevant authorities naturally believe, or are somehow induced to think, that turbines are a net benefit to the community, and/or those that may be harmed just have to bear the damage; and second, because the noise guidelines are totally inadequate to protect residents(xiv xv & see Endnote ii). This failure to protect has been drawn to the attention of the industry and politicians(xvi) and their expert advisers for many years but kept in place largely unaltered by willfully ignorant authorities and by misleading statements by the industry or its technically under-informed supporters.
The conditions required by wind developers to maximize profits are such that their industrial machinery is placed largely within farming and lifestyle districts (almost totally zoned rural). This site selection criterion ensures that households, families and individuals are perhaps inadvertently, but still casually, and knowingly, impacted. The result is discrimination against a largish group of farming families, rural schools, businesses and those individuals confined in institutions such as nursing homes and prisons.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
There are no effective remedies for currently impacted families or those to be impacted in future. Noise guidelines are totally incompetent at protecting neighbours, so planned turbine layouts constructed to meet known to be incompetent guidelines will hurt residents; this situation will be locked in by compliance (or faux compliance) to these incompetent guidelines(xvii). Additionally compliance is not tested according to a protocol as no such protocol exists and many “compliant” projects are unlikely to be compliant because of deliberate or sloppy compliance testing(xviii). So compliance, which should be a test and where necessary a remedy, is not present.
Complaints of damage reported to WEP operators are ignored. Complaints referred to so-called responsible authorities and other state bureaucracies are dismissed or ignored. Complaints to politicians are met by “file closer” letters except by a brave few who argue the case but with little power in the end. Senate committees examining health impacts come and go, the NHMRC follows one acoustically ill-informed literature review with another(xix) again inadequately informed on turbine acoustics.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
As indicated elsewhere, homes are arbitrarily interfered with, being rendered unsafe quite often to the point of being uninhabitable, and values driven down to the point of unsaleable.
Again no one, i.e., not one person, should be subject to this arbitrary interference with his or her home.
Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
If a property becomes a place of severe discomfort and pain and thereby unsafe, the resident is arbitrarily deprived of his property (home). Many families have been deprived of homes that have become uninhabitable.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which ensure, in particular:
(b) Safe and healthy working conditions;
There are multiple farming properties where owners and farm employees have found it impossible to work during certain wind speeds and directions and in certain parts of farming properties. Working on these properties is unsafe and a health hazard.
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that:
1. The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children …..
There is no attempt to provide any protection and assistance to any family impacted by turbine generated pressure pulses. Quite the reverse, responsible entities ignore the calls for help and assistance.
2. Special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other conditions. ……..
This important matter is dealt with in Appendix 4.
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
Large numbers of residents that are within 10km of industrial wind projects (and a
lesser number beyond that) suffer a very low standard of physical and mental health due to the intrusion of wind turbines in the vicinity of their homes and workplaces. (xx See Endnotes vi), vii) and viii)
2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full
realization of this right shall include those necessary for:
(a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child;
There are quite substantial impediments derived from adjacent turbines to the healthy development of children.(xxi)
(c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases;
Sleep deprivation is a major symptom of people living near turbines and is classified as a disease by the WHO.
There is no recognition of this nor attempts by the industry or relevant authorities to prevent, treat or control this problem; rather the opposite by the industry and relevant authorities willfully remaining in denial and promoting more projects that will contribute to the volume and intensity of the harm.
(d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.
For reasons which at best include ignorance of the science of acoustics, medically oriented organisations (with the exception of the Waubra Foundation which is informed in both acoustics and medicine) are in determined and ignorant denial of the problem. (xxii xxiii xxiv) General practitioners in areas where people are impacted are quite slow to identify the problem and to realise that treating the patient is not productive. Some are beginning to recognize that their only useful contribution to caring for the patient is to advise them to live elsewhere.
Nothing in the present Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the inherent right of all peoples to enjoy and utilize fully and freely their natural wealth and resources.
Natural wealth and resources is not clearly enough defined to be of much use. However if they include families’ financial resources, the farmability of their land and the well being of their natural environment, then the right to retain those resources is removed and they have no hope of enjoying and utilising fully and freely those resources.
xiii) Independent acoustical and medical professionals’ statements: