Waubra Foundation

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The Waubra Foundation is a not-for-profit company which describes itself as an advocate for properly conducted, multidisciplinary research into health problems reported by people living in the vicinity of wind turbines and other industrial uses.[1] The foundation is named after the town of Waubra, Victoria Australia, but is not linked to it in any other way. The town is home to the 128 turbine Waubra Wind Farm.[2]

History[edit]

The Foundation was originally known as the 'Waubra Disease Foundation' established by Mr Peter Mitchell in March 2010,[3] following claims that health problems reported by some residents of Waubra were caused by wind turbines.[4]

Operations[edit]

Use of the Waubra township name[edit]

The foundation was named after the so called "Waubra disease" reported by some residents of the town.[5] Other than its name, the Waubra Foundation has no links to the township of Waubra, Victoria Australia. In November 2013, 315 people, including 179 people within the town community, petitioned the Waubra Foundation to remove the name Waubra from its title, with petitioners claiming that the name had "tarnished the town's reputation" and that its name was "misleading".[6] The foundation declined to change its name stating that “the name Waubra Foundation is established and is revered by victims of wind projects worldwide.”[7]

Organisational Structure[edit]

The independence and impartiality of the Waubra Foundation has been criticised from a number of quarters. Business Spectator referred to the organisation's office-holders as having "a background of involvement with anti-wind farm campaigns" and suggested that this "shows the Waubra Foundation is not an impartial authority on matters of human health" and "undermines the Foundation's claim to be independent and trustworthy on wind energy and health."[8] In separate articles, Crikey and The Guardian referred to the Waubra Foundation's founder, Peter Mitchell, as having uranium and coal seam gas interests and as having a background in the fossil fuel extraction industry.[9][10] Mitchell's family owns 'Mawallock', a historic rural property located near a wind farm which he has objected to (Stockyard Hill).[11][12] Mitchell is also a founding chairman of the Moonie Oil Company and now chairman of Lowell Pty Ltd, which runs an investment fund focused on oil, gas and minerals.[13] The foundation once shared a post office box with Lowell Resources and the Australian Landscape Guardians.[14]

Sickness Claims[edit]

The Waubra Foundation proposes that wind turbines have a mental and physical health impact on some people, largely as a result of infrasound, and has claimed that wind turbines can cause 'lip vibrations' out to ten kilometres away[15]

Qualifications[edit]

In April 2013 the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) ethics committee began investigating a complaint that the CEO of the Waubra Foundation, Sarah Laurie, had breached ethical research codes. [16] The complaint alleges that Laurie is not currently registered as a medical practitioner but has been conducting activity that meets the definition of medical research including; collecting blood pressure data, giving medical advice, referring to people as “research subjects” and accessing and discussing medical records and personal health journals. [17] In May 2013 the NHMRC stated that it would take no further action in relation to the complaint as neither Dr Laurie, nor the Waubra Foundation, has contractual arrangements through a signed NHMRC Funding Agreement. [18]Laurie has acknowledged that she has no training or experience in conducting medical or scientific research or experience in research methodology and design, (other than some undergraduate exposure when obtaining her medical degree) and acknowledges that she is not a qualified acoustician, and has no experience or training in acoustics generally.[19]

Deductible gift recipient status[edit]

In November 2013, Senator Richard Di Natale, health spokesperson for the Australian Greens, and former General Practitioner, lodged a written complaint with both the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commissioner and the Australian Tax Office regarding the Waubra Foundation qualifying as a health promotion charity, on the basis that the foundation’s claims are false and misleading and that they may actually be causing harm.[20] [21] On December 11, 2014 the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission revoked the foundation’s registration as a health promotion charity.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Waubra Foundation". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Acciona Australia - Waubra Wind Farm http://www.acciona.com.au/business-divisions/energy/operational-projects/waubra-wind-farm Retrieved 31 March 2014
  3. ^ Waubra Foundation History http://waubrafoundation.org.au/about/history/ Retrieved 31 March 2014
  4. ^ Cheryl Hall (4 September 2009). "Wind farms causing head spins". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  5. ^ Ed Gannon (11 December 2013). "Town blows hot and cold over 'disease' link". Hearald Sun. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Courier" Waubra wind farm: locals petition to save town's name http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/1889423/waubra-wind-farm-locals-petition-to-save-towns-name/ 5 November 2013 Retrieved 31 March 2014
  7. ^ "The Courier" The Waubra Foundation refuses to change its name 17 December 2013 Retrieved 31 March 2014
  8. ^ "Climate Spectator" Appointments show Waubra Foundation can't be trusted http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/11/1/wind-power/appointments-show-waubra-foundation-cant-be-trusted 1 November 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2014
  9. ^ "The Guardian" Australia's wind energy debate spinning out of control. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2013/jun/02/wind-turbine-power-health-australia 3 June 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2014
  10. ^ "Crikey" The web of vested interests behind the anti-wind farm lobby http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/10/13/the-web-of-vested-interests-behind-the-anti-wind-farm-lobby/ 13 October 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2014
  11. ^ Australian Broadcasting Commission Stockyard Hill wind farm approved http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/11/01/3054121.htm 1 November 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2014
  12. ^ Australian Broadcasting Commission 4 Corners - Against the Wind Transcript http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2011/s3277568.htm 25 July 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2014
  13. ^ "The Age" You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/you-dont-need-a-weatherman-to-know-which-way-the-wind-blows-20100702-zu70.html 3 July 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2014
  14. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald “Much Angst over wind turbines is just hot air” http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/much-angst-over-wind-turbines-is-just-hot-air-20111220-1p3sb.html 21 December 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2014
  15. ^ "RenewEconomy" Bad day in court for anti-wind campaigner Sarah Laurie http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/bad-day-in-court-for-anti-wind-campaigner-sarah-laurie 27 November 2012 Retrieved 31 March 2014
  16. ^ Crikey “Authorities examine complaint against anti-wind farm activist” http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/04/23/medical-authorities-examine-complaint-against-anti-wind-farm-activist/ 23 April 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2014
  17. ^ Crikey “Authorities examine complaint against anti-wind farm activist” http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/04/23/medical-authorities-examine-complaint-against-anti-wind-farm-activist/ 23 April 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2014
  18. ^ Crikey "Research Council bows out of anti-wind-farm ethics complaint" http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/06/07/medical-research-council-bows-out-of-anti-wind-farm-activist-ethics-complaint/ 7 June 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  19. ^ "RenewEconomy" Bad day in court for anti-wind campaigner Sarah Laurie http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/bad-day-in-court-for-anti-wind-campaigner-sarah-laurie 27 November 2012 Retrieved 31 March 2014
  20. ^ Climate Spectator “Greens Challenge Waubra Foundation tax status.” http://www.businessspectator.com.au/news/2013/11/8/policy-politics/greens-challenge-waubra-foundation-tax-status 8 November 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2014
  21. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald “Tax office deciding if anti-wind farm group Waubra is a charity” http://www.smh.com.au/business/tax-office-deciding-if-antiwind-farm-group-waubra-is-a-charity-20131208-2yzdk.html 9 December 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2014
  22. ^ Business Spectator ‘Waubra loses 'health promotion' charity status’ 18 December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014