Letters / Open letter to trustees

Dear Trustee,

We welcomed the publication of Sarah Taylor’s review of the literature exploring the potential health impacts of wind turbines last month.  We understand that you will be covering the contents of the report at your meeting on 12 September.  

Sustainable Shetland has always been concerned that the VE wind farm could potentially be very damaging to the health, both physical and mental, of those living in close proximity to it. 


The report makes quite clear that this is a very real possibility, stating that it would cause ‘annoyance’ and going on to explain that:

“Annoyance is recognised as a critical health effect, and is associated in some people with stress, sleep disturbance and interference with daily living. “There is an increasing body of evidence that noise levels associated with wind farms cause annoyance, in a dose-related response.” with symptoms including “…headache, irritability, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, and sleep disturbance, are often described in relation to annoyance”.


 There was some confusion in the media as to the real significance of ‘annoyance’ but Sarah Taylor’s letter to the Shetland Times on 9 August clarified that:

“There is good evidence that the levels of annoyance and distress caused by wind farms are serious for some people.  There is a lot of anecdotal reporting but also a convincing amount of good quality research.  Annoyance is recognised as a critical health effect, associated with sleep disturbance, interference with daily living and with stress related symptoms. From a public health perspective we would argue that mental health is as important for people’s wellbeing as physical health….We also believe that action should be taken wherever possible to prevent adverse health impacts at source.  Therefore this report was written as a resource for local policy making.”


 We are concerned to see that  report CT1309051, in the board pack for Thursday’s meeting states that: ‘”Since the report was not directly commissioned by the Trust there was no cost involved”

 and that Trustees are asked only to: “note the findings of the report.”

 At the meeting of the SCT on 28th June 2012 when the report was first suggested Dr Wills moved that that:

“the Trust should commission its own independent report on the health effects, if any, of windfarms…It was also questioned if the funding of the health impact assessment would be classed as an appropriate disbursement of Trust funds. The Chair advised that it could be argued that it was in the interests of the people of Shetland and Mr K Pinkerton added that this was a consideration that could be taken into account within charitable purposes… The Chair said that if the study produced outputs that required to be acted upon, he did not perceive that there would be difficulty in committing to act on these outputs’…The Trustees resolved to:
(b) commission its own independent report on the health effects, if any,of windfarms;
(c) agree that future funding from Shetland Charitable Trust to the Viking Energy Windfarm Project be subject to detailed examination of turbine locations adjacent to established settlements, with a view to removal of any or relocation in order to increase, where applicable, the separation distances from dwellings to meet the concerns of residents, in terms of what is possible within planning consent.”

We ask that the Charitable Trust comment publicly on the contents of the report. We ask you to clarify who commissioned the report, who paid for it, and what action will be taken by the SCT to mitigate possible and probable health impacts in the light of its findings, given the commitment made at the meeting of 28 June 2012.

Frank Hay
Chair Sustainable Shetland