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Wind energy staff act as advisers

Senior figures from wind energy firms have been working at the heart of Government, advising ministers on the potential health impacts of turbines, the WMN has learned. The Government was last night accused of "doing unprecedented and highly questionable favours" for the wind industry amid growing concern about the "clear conflict of interest". ...Questions have also been raised about a move to limit the power for people living near new wind farms to sue operators for negative health impacts caused by noise.

Senior figures from wind energy firms have been working at the heart of Government, advising ministers on the potential health impacts of turbines, the WMN has learned.

The Government was last night accused of "doing unprecedented and highly questionable favours" for the wind industry amid growing concern about the "clear conflict of interest".

Staff from power firms are known to be working in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) which is responsible for energy supplies and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) charged with tackling climate change.

Questions have also been raised about a move to limit the power for people living near new wind farms to sue operators for negative health impacts caused by noise.

It comes after Gordon Brown sanctioned a massive push for renewable energy, which will require a 1,000 per cent increase on current levels.
Tory MP Geoffrey Cox said: "It is astonishing that the Government has apparently sub-contracted the study of this vital subject to the very industry which has most to gain from allaying those concerns."

He said he was... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Senior figures from wind energy firms have been working at the heart of Government, advising ministers on the potential health impacts of turbines, the WMN has learned.

The Government was last night accused of "doing unprecedented and highly questionable favours" for the wind industry amid growing concern about the "clear conflict of interest".

Staff from power firms are known to be working in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) which is responsible for energy supplies and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) charged with tackling climate change.

Questions have also been raised about a move to limit the power for people living near new wind farms to sue operators for negative health impacts caused by noise.

It comes after Gordon Brown sanctioned a massive push for renewable energy, which will require a 1,000 per cent increase on current levels.
Tory MP Geoffrey Cox said: "It is astonishing that the Government has apparently sub-contracted the study of this vital subject to the very industry which has most to gain from allaying those concerns."

He said he was particularly concerned about the apparent conflict of interest surrounding energy firms dominating a group set up to consider the health impact of aerodynamic modulation - the swish or boom caused by turbine blades.

Meetings of the Government's independent Noise Working Group were chaired by a top adviser from RWE Npower, who was working in BERR, and included four others from the industry. Guidance has since been sent by the Government to planning inspectors based on the conclusions of the group.

Meanwhile, two people from Shell and Npower are also working at Defra, earning between £45,000 and £66,506, though officials insist neither is working on the renewables programme.

Mr Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon, has now written to Business Secretary John Hutton and Environment Secretary Hilary Benn calling on them to explain why wind industry employees are working inside Government. He said last night: "These facts, if true, bring to light a disturbing conflict of interest in the preparation and presentation of critical research into the health effects of noise from aerodynamic modulation in the ever larger and more sophisticated machines for which planning permission is being sought in the South West and around the country.

"Is it conceivable that a study of the possible health effects of smoking would be chaired by someone on secondment from the tobacco industry?"
When challenged by the WMN to explain the revelations, BERR said it was "not unusual" for secondments to take place between Government and industry, or vice versa. A spokesman said "great care" is taken to avoid "any potential for conflict of interest" including regular parliamentary scrutiny of the programme.

The Noise Working Group (NWG) was publicised as being formed from "independent experts on wind turbine noise" and was set up to advise ministers on amplitude modulation. But meetings were chaired by Zoe Keeton, an employee of RWE Npower . The group also included at least four members who have represented wind energy interests.

Defra seconding outsiders to the department helps provide "specialist expertise which cannot be provided by existing staff ".


Source: http://www.thisiswesternmor...

AUG 13 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/16486-wind-energy-staff-act-as-advisers
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