Irish High Court Finds Wind Turbine Maker Liable for Noise Nuisance – 7 Irish Families to Get Millions in Punitive Damages

irish-wind-farm

In a case before the Irish High Court, German wind turbine manufacturer, Enercon has just conceded liability in noise nuisance in a claim pursued by 7 families whose lives and livelihoods have been thoroughly and mercilessly destroyed by incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound.

A report on the case follows below, but first we’ll start where it all started back in 2013.

Families bid to sue wind farm operator
Irish Examiner
Michael Clifford
19 March 2013
By Michael Clifford

A group of families in a north Cork village are suing a wind farm operator in a landmark case, claiming the huge turbines are adversely affecting their health.

The seven families from Banteer claim they have been severely impacted, particularly through noise pollution, since the turbines began operating in Nov 2011.

If the action is successful, it is expected to lead to a number of others on similar grounds. Already, cases are being prepared by householders in Wexford and Roscommon.

The Banteer action is being taken by the “Shivnen family and others”, and includes households where there are families with children, couples, and, in one case, a single occupant.

The case is listed for the High Court and has already come before Judge Kevin Feeney. It is currently at the discovery phase, with a likely hearing date in the autumn.

The turbines were manufactured and are operated by a German company, Enercon Services, which has a base in Tralee, Co Kerry. The company has been installing turbines in this country since 1998.

The key factors in the legal action are expected to be planning regulations under which wind farms are installed and evidence of any alleged ill health effects.

So far, no legislation has been passed in relation to wind turbines. Planning is governed largely by guidelines that date from 2006, but which are based on technological capabilities dating from 1998.

The guidelines are being reviewed by the Department of the Environment, which is expected to report in the coming months.

The Banteer action is the first of its kind in this country, and comes at a time when the exploitation of wind energy is coming to the fore in public policy.

One such case has been recorded in the UK, concerning homeowner Jane Davis, who sued on the basis of the adverse impact from a nearby farm on her home and her health. That case was settled out of court and included a confidentiality clause.

The setting of EU targets for renewable energy rather than fossil fuels is driving moves towards wind energy, and most new developments are onshore rather than offshore due to cost.

A major development in the Midlands is under way in which 2,000 turbines are due to be installed to generate electricity which will be exported to Britain. The plan, undertaken by two energy companies, has caused uproar in some quarters, but dozens of farmers are believed to have signed up to allow their land to be rented out to house the turbines.

A number of public meetings have been called across the Midlands by residents and concerned interests about the proposal.

At a recent meeting in Bloomfield House, it emerged that a couple living near Roscommon town were forced to leave their home because of the effect a nearby turbine was having on their health.

Tim Cowhig, CEO of one of the developers, Element Power, said there is no scientific evidence to link wind turbines to ill health. “My view is that people need proper information and a proper national debate. We haven’t had that to date,” he said.

Last year, the Noise and Health journal published results from a US survey which compared sleeping patterns between a group living within a mile of a wind farm, and another beyond that distance.

The study suggested that the former group’s sleeping was directly impacted by the operation of the turbines. It is believed to be the first study to show a relationship between the wind farms and what the journal calls the “important clinical indicators of health, including sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and mental health”.
Irish Examiner

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In what STT understands has been a long and grueling battle for the families involved, for three-and-a-half years Enercon fought them all the way, until the latest hearing when it informed the Court that it would not contest the question of liability. Undeterred by Enercon’s recalcitrance, the plaintiffs pressed on and, after the concession on liability, emerged from Court victorious.

The plaintiffs will return to Court in April for an assessment of their damages; reasonably expecting to recover millions in general and punitive damages for five years of pain and suffering, maliciously inflicted on them and their young families by Enercon. (STT is in touch with the plaintiffs’ legal team and hopes to post details of the case in the New Year.)

Here’s the Irish Examiner on the case that has left the wind industry rattled, not only in the Emerald Isle (the Irish Wind Energy Association forced the Irish Examiner to pull the story below from its website) but around the world.

Families forced from homes due to wind farm noise win court case
Irish Examiner
11 December 2016

The case was taken against wind turbine manufacturer Enercon who has accepted full liability for causing nuisance to seven families who live up to 1 km from the wind farm.

A number of families in Co Cork who were forced to leave their homes because of noise from a nearby wind farm have won a significant case in the High Court this week.

The families claim they have been severely impacted by noise since the wind farm began operating in 2011.

This is the first action of its kind in Ireland and may now open many wind farm developers to the prospect of legal challenges from families in similar situations.

The case was taken against wind turbine manufacturer Enercon who have accepted full liability for causing nuisance to seven families who live up to 1 km from the wind farm.

The case will return to the High Court in 2017 to discuss punitive damages.

Promises in Government over the last four years to introduce planning regulations regarding wind turbines have failed to materialise.

According to out-dated guidelines, turbines may be built 500m from homes. In many cases, including this, wind turbines have been built closer than 500m.

A spokesperson for Wind Aware Ireland said: “There now is a possibility for multiple legal actions against wind farms right around the country.

“The legal implications for the wind industry are significant. The use of inadequate and out-dated planning guidelines may come back to haunt the industry, planning authorities and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE).”

On election, Minister Naughten promised that new planning guidelines would be in place within 3 to 6 months of the formation of the new government.
Irish Examiner

irish-high-court

Ireland’s High Court delivers justice for 7 tortured families, at long last.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. If proof was needed, this is the clearest example of excessive power and corruption in the wind farm industry. The wind farm developers, not only have the politicians and the political parties in their pockets, they now seem to have the media as well.

  2. For Ireland I'd not tell her name says:

    Thank you for your tireless reporting, revelations and analysis STT. Your site is internationally applauded

    The wind fokkers have long been on the nose wherever they insinuate their dishonest practices, and now they are on the ropes. Let us hope the knockout punch is coming soon to put them and their corrupt industry out of their (and our) misery.

    Have a wonderful season and great 2017.

  3. There seems to be some controversy here about the case – I think we need proper confirmation because there is denial that the case even exists as a judgement – I can’t find it listed. If this is a real case there seems to be a coverup. What’s going on?

    • STT has it from one of the plaintiffs that the report is correct. There has not been a trial on liability, as Enercon conceded liability, hence no judgment on that question. The recent appearance in court was when Enercon announced its position. The matter was listed for a hearing in April for the assessment of damages. The wind industry in Ireland pressured the Irish Examiner to drop the story, probably on the basis that the was technically no actual decision on the facts. However, the result is as reported, qualified by the fact that no judgment has been delivered, none was required. The defendant decided in the end to not contest liability. The plaintiffs are delighted that they will not have to fight on liability. However, one of their experts, Alun Evans was angry that he would not be cross examined on his report, he wanted there to be binding findings of fact, rather than a mere concession of liability.

      • Enormously appreciate your clarification here – There are so many dirty tricks in the WT business that we have to watch out for them – We need a lawyer on this one – It is an enormously important case that may have appeared before a judge of great integrity and common sense. I’ll raise a glass or two of Guinness to this one. Ireland has become a very clever country in recent years

  4. Son of a Goat says:

    I wonder when there will a class action here in Australia. This will be another huge dagger into the heart of the wind industry.
    No wonder Origin is selling off the proposed Stockyard Hill , who wants to be left carrying a liability?
    Any investment arm of a bank or financial institution would slam the door at any wind farm developer seeking finance.
    Of course those busted arse outfits like Senvion and their Ceres project will say the market is more buoyant and they are looking for financial closure at the end of the1st quarter 2017, with construction expected to start later that year.
    The only closure might be Senvion!

  5. Jackie Rovensky says:

    In this case there are at least two things which are of significance to the rest of the world. The first is of course we now have a Court confirming that the noise coming from these things is detrimental to human health, the other is the focusing on outdated Guidelines and Planning regulations both of which will resonate around the world.
    How often have the Guidelines here been questioned as to their relevance especially in relation to the massive turbines now being installed.
    Well done to those tough Irish who stood their ground and did not let themselves be bullied by an Industry that has wrongly assumed its untouchable.

  6. Brian Johnston says:

    The article refers to fossil fuels. I presume that is to mean oil and coal. Oil and coal are not fossil fuels they are abiotic and driven off the magma. They are not old forests. The magma gives off gas, the condensate is oil, the oil solidifies into coal

  7. Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  8. Reblogged this on citizenpoweralliance.

  9. https://renewables.seenews.com/news/irish-families-win-court-victory-over-noise-from-wind-turbines-report-550303#
    This story has been removed by the Irish Examiner -the link above is IWEA’s narrative on the matter – STT please investigate what really happened here. Really want proof that the event happened because it represents a significant breakthrough.

    • Bluewaters, the result reported is correct. STT’s operatives are in contact with the plaintiffs. Liability was not contested, in the end. One of the experts, Alun Evans was disappointed that he did not get to give evidence. Enercon (and the wind industry) were terrified of the ramifications if the Court heard evidence and made inevitable factual findings.Damages are to be assessed in April next year. Although we expect Enercon to be pressured by the wind industry to pay out of court settlements with confidentiality clauses attached. However, the result reported is correct. We hope to publish the court papers in the New Year.

      • excellent – terrific news and thank you for reporting back so quickly. Looking forward to reading what you post in the New Year! Best of the season to you –

  10. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “The study suggested that the former group’s sleeping was directly impacted by the operation of the turbines. It is believed to be the first study to show a relationship between the wind farms and what the journal calls the “important clinical indicators of health, including sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and mental health”. -Irish Examiner

    Let the precedent spread far and wide to rid the world of these industrial 16th Century wind-monsters that wreak so much damage to people’s lives and to the health of the economies they reside.

  11. Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    In which the law catches up with one of the wind turbine industry’s many excesses, not before time.

  12. No Turbines says:

    It’s great news that Enercon has accepted full liability for the nuisance, but it is appalling that residents have to wait years and years for a result. Let the floodgates open!

  13. Wonder how a certain sydney amateurfesser will weasel word this,..

  14. william gray says:

    This highlights, more than ever, the importance of the principle of separation of powers. Commonsense and reasonableness (to an extent) are the glues that bind society and are also the hallmarks of an uncorrupted judicial system and the one hope (now realised in this example) of justice prevailing. And so it should be everywhere. This ruling should give great hope to many and may just make govts take a little more notice of the issues surrounding the ‘wind’ farce.

    • All true William, but just watch for the flurry of retrospective legislation around the western world as corrupt PC politicians desperately scurry to save their golden goose from the chopping block.

  15. Reblogged this on Wolsten.

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