Australian Wind Alliance

How a rural doctor became an advocate for wind

Marjorie_BMC_sml.jpgAWA member, Dr Marjorie Cross, runs the medical practice in Bungendore, NSW, a few kilometres down the road from the Capital and Woodlawn Wind Farms. Dr. Cross has been treating patients in Bungendore for around 30 years so she's in the perfect position to know whether or not wind farms have any kind of health impacts. And her answer is clear - no, not that I've ever seen.

So when, some years back, she started hearing the claims that wind turbines were making people sick she was surprised and sought to get to the bottom of it.

She looked very carefully into what the medical literature said, including advices from the National Health and Medical Research Centre, which stated there was no credible evidence that infrasound was causing something called 'wind turbine syndrome'. 

Being a collegial practitioner, when anti-wind activist and unregistered doctor, Sarah Laurie, visited the area, she agreed to meet with her and hear the claims about 'wind turbine syndrome' for herself but found the evidence 'didn't stand up to scrutiny'. Her practice employs a number of doctors and in conversations with her colleagues none of them have ever come across anyone who has exhibited symptoms that might fit with what Dr Laurie was claiming.

Speaking to a group of visiting medical students from the ANU recently, Dr. Cross told them "I can look you in the eye and tell you there is no such thing as wind turbine syndrome in the way that Dr Laurie claims."

But the persistence of misinformation about the issue in the media propelled Dr Cross into action. She started writing letters to the paper, putting in submissions to government inquiries and even doing interviews for a newspaper story or two - all to make sure it was widely understood that people had nothing to fear health-wise from wind farms. In part, she was also concerned about the 'nocebo effect', whereby people under the impression that wind farms will make them sick will genuinely become sick in their presence. However she and the panel all underlined the high incidence of anxiety and depression in rural Australia and that the earliest wind farm developments caused considerable distress and division within communities.

Dr. Cross now describes herself as a "community advocate, using my job as a badge of honour" to make sure there is a reliable and trusted voice in the media on the issue of wind farms and health. Along the way, she has also joined and been involved with the excellent organisation, Doctors for the Environment.

And with a final plug, Dr. Cross told the students "the best thing you can do is come along to the next Run With the Wind, a fun run held around Woodlawn Wind Farm. It's a terrific chance to take in the wind farm scenery and you'll enjoy yourself immensely."

Hats off to you Marjorie. You're a great champion for wind power and for common sense!


Image: Dr Marjorie Cross at the 2015 Run With the Wind event, with AWA NSW organiser, Charlie Prell.

Showing 6 reactions

  • commented 2017-11-30 21:52:15 +1100
    There is so much that can be said on the subject, but all the evidence leads toward the conclusion (now generally accepted) that wind turbines do not cause any form of ill health.
  • commented 2017-11-27 17:01:17 +1100
    This is ridiculous. It’s very much like responses to other chronic health conditions, like Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, that can completely ruin people’s lives, while doctors still tell them it is “all in their mind.” Her authority as a doctor doesn’t extend to saying the people are making up their symptoms, or that all adverse health effects are psychosomatic. To say so is to risk long-term loss of health in sensitised individuals, and that’s unethical. Until we believe patients with chronic illness, we won’t be able to work out what is causing the illness. In my case, a parallel kind of disbelief earlier in my life has disabled me.
  • commented 2016-09-13 15:24:31 +1000
    Excellent, Marjorie Cross and Charlie Prell!! I strongly support you all and other Wind Farmers!
  • commented 2016-09-06 15:53:54 +1000
    I wonder if there is any correllation between those claiming to suffer from “Wind Turbine Syndrome” and those who complain of the Windellama Hum? (one of a number of “hums” reported around the world)

    Personally, I’ve had a number (1-3) of small wind turbines located quite close (<50m and one larger one ~300m) to my house for many years, and found the (not very loud) noise they made in a strong wind reasonably pleasant. It certainly wasn’t any louder than the wind noise from the trees, which often made the turbines inaudible.
    The turbine sound, and infrasound! did not upset the chooks, the dog, or the trout in my fish tank, and I’ve never suffered from vibrating lips or any of the other “symptoms” complained about ;)
  • commented 2016-08-27 15:49:16 +1000
    My home is in Crystal Brook, close to Clements Gap Wind Farm and to Sarah Laurie’s home. Crystal Brook Midical Practice is the closest to the wind farm. I’ve now asked seven doctors in the practice if they have had a patient complain of being made I’ll by the turbines. None of them have.
  • commented 2016-08-26 11:31:51 +1000
    Check your patients records dr cross it tells another story. How disresprctful to the patients that suffer