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About Dr. Sarah Laurie

Waubra Foundation, South Melbourne, AUDr. Sarah Laurie, Chief Executive Officer, Waubra Foundation
PO Box 1136
South Melbourne
Victoria, 3205 Australia
ABN:  65 801 147 788

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery awarded 1995, Flinders University, South Australia [equivalent to MD in USA]
  • Fellowship of Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, (RACGP) awarded July 1999
  • Fellowship of Australian College of Remote and Rural Medicine, (ACCRM) awarded March 2000
  • Clinical examiner, RACGP 2001
  • Member of State Council, Australian Medical Association of South Australia, 2001.

Personal History

In April 2002, a sudden illness requiring immediate surgery and follow up necessitated Dr. Laurie withdrawing from practice as a rural general practitioner.  It was not until 2010 that her own health and other responsibilities made it possible for Dr Laurie to consider returning to practice.  During this extended period Dr Laurie did not continue to renew her registration, nor was she able to formally participate in the continuing medical education required to maintain her fellowships in RACGP and ACRRM.  Regardless, Dr Laurie remains a qualified medical doctor.

In April 2010, when Dr. Laurie was preparing to re-enter the medical workforce, a wind energy project was announced for the hills near her home.  A concerned neighbour drew Dr. Laurie’s attention to Dr Amanda Harry’s survey from 2003 (see http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wind-turbines-noise-and-health/ ).  This local development proposal has since been withdrawn, however Dr. Laurie’s professional concern about the reported adverse health effects from exposure to operating wind turbines, and the lack of proper research continues.

In late July 2010, after voicing her growing professional concerns at a public meeting, Dr. Laurie was approached by Peter Mitchell to join the Waubra Foundation as its inaugural Medical Director, later to become its Chief Executive Officer, both roles being performed on a voluntary basis.

Experience with Wind Turbine/ILFN Health Problems

In the second half of 2010 Dr. Laurie commenced intensive fieldwork, visiting and listening to over 100 sick neighbours of wind projects and other industrial developments with noise pollution issues in South Eastern Australia, liaising with acousticians and concerned medical practitioners in Australia, Western Europe, United Kingdom, and North America.

In October 2010, Dr. Laurie attended the first International Symposium on Adverse Health Effects of Wind Turbines in Ontario, organized by the Society for Wind Vigilance (www.windvigilance.com), and ever since has liaised closely with other professionals and researchers who gave presentations at that symposium.

Dr Laurie’s work has included: recommendations about setback distances for new wind projects based upon her gathering of evidence of health impacts at multiple projects; encouraging acoustic measurements by independent acousticians, assisting researchers to connect with sick residents; making submissions to relevant authorities and politicians; educating other medical practitioners; and where invited, educating concerned community groups and affected individuals.

This work has unfortunately and inappropriately attracted unpleasant comments and misleading public statements concerning Dr Laurie’s professional qualifications from sections of the wind industry and its vocal, well intentioned but generally ignorant supporters, who are unwilling to accept that there is a very real problem which must be addressed, and who prefer instead to “shoot the clinical messenger”.

Legal & Committee Involvement

Shortly after commencing her fieldwork, Dr. Laurie was approached to help give expert evidence in a court case in Adelaide.  The academic who ultimately gave evidence for the wind developer agreed that witnesses were”sick” and they were “stressed”, but then blamed that on what he called “scaremongering”.  Unfortunately, the court did not have the benefit of a survey conducted by Dr. David Iser from Toora, Victoria who had gathered clinical evidence of identical serious ill health from his patients living near the Toora wind project as far back as 2004, well before there was any public knowledge of these problems.  In this particular case, the judges preferred the “expert“ advice of the academic to field evidence from Dr Laurie.

Shortly after this, in July 2011, judges in a similar court in Ontario found that there are adverse health effects from wind turbines, and that further research is required.  A range of international experts in acoustics and health gave evidence for both developers and the appellants.  In that case, Professor Geoffrey Leventhall, one of the acousticians for the Wind Developer, admitted that he knew of the symptoms of “wind turbine syndrome” as they were identical to those occurring from exposure to low frequency noise, known to be emitted by wind turbines as well as other sources.   The quote from the Canadian judgment is below:

“This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.” (p. 207) (Emphasis added)

Environmental Review Tribunal, Case Nos.: 10-121/10-122 Erickson v. Director, Ministry of the Environment, Dated this 18th day of July, 2011 by Jerry V. DeMarco, Panel Chair and Paul Muldoon, Vice-Chair,

In June 2011, Dr. Laurie was asked to Chair a Panel at the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Workshop, which was re-examining the issue of adverse health effects of wind turbines.  (See http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/your-health/wind-farms-and-human-health)

In July 2012 Dr. Laurie was asked by the Canadian lawyer for an upcoming case to provide independent expert witness testimony for that case.  She has agreed to do so.  The name of that case is Haldimand Wind Concerns V Ministry of Environment, ERT case No 12 – 073.  The hearings will commence in September 2012.

Dr Laurie’s own field work, and extensive knowledge of the field work of others including acoustic and psycho acoustic measurements and physiological research, is widely appreciated.  Her help, knowledge and advice is sought by doctors, acousticians and researchers working in this field in Australia and overseas. Her ability to understand the acoustic and human health evidence has contributed considerably to the general community understanding of the existing known pathophysiological pathways which make this condition so devastating to a significant proportion of wind project neighbours.

Important Submissions, Letters and Documents by Dr Laurie

  • Oral evidence given to Federal Senate Inquiry, given on 29th March 2011
  • Letter to Prime Minister Gillard   3rd March, 2012
  • Submission to NSW Director General of Planning re Mt Bodangora, 8th August 2012
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