Last update: August 18, 2014
Note: A formal report on this material was published August 15, 2014 on the Energy And Policy Institute site. News stories have been published in about a dozen news sites and energy journals worldwide, including Huffington Post, The Australian and RenewEconomy.
Over the past five years, a few anti-wind campaigners with credentials or experience unrelated to wind energy and its purported effects on humans have attempted to bootstrap themselves into the role of expert witnesses on a variety of subjects that they are not qualified to speak about in civil suits, Environmental Review Tribunals in Canada and Environment, Resources and Development proceedings in Australia. They haven’t fared well. This post details the failures to gain expert status and have evidence admitted of the following non-expert ‘experts’ after assessment of 49 wind turbine-related cases in five countries:
- Sarah Laurie (no longer allowed to call herself Dr, but still does)
- Dr. Nina Pierpont, pediatrician
- Dr. Robert McMurtry, orthopaedic surgeon
- Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, radiologist
- Dr. Carl Phillips, Scientific Director of The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, Advisor to Society for Wind Vigilance
- Dr. Daniel Shepherd, psychoacoustician
- Bill Palmer, P. Eng
- Mike McCann, property appraiser
- Ben Lansink, property appraiser
- Richard James, Michigan acoustician
- Eric Erhard, P. Eng
- Les Huson, MSc(Eng)
- Emeritus Professor Colin Hansen, Phd (Mechanical Engineering)
- Dr. Upton, Emeritus Professor, Neurology
- Debbie Shubat, RN
- Lori Davies, MSW
- Carmen Krogh, pharmacist (a special case)
They and the lawyers who attempt to bring them into court have typically overstated the relevance of their credentials, as well as the depth and breadth of their expertise. In virtually every proceeding, their evidence has been dismissed compared to the much stronger evidence provided by witnesses with relevant credentials who testify on behalf of the reality that wind farms just don’t make people sick, or have significant risk of harm. These non-experts often introduce hundreds of pages of what they term evidence, the vast majority of it poorly constructed opinion pieces by other non-experts, much of it solely maintained on the websites of those opposed to wind energy. They often attempt to introduce ‘studies’ – almost entirely methodologically and statistically weak as well as suspect on medical ethics grounds — that they have performed which in their opinion proves harm from wind energy. This evidence takes significant time and court resources to assess and discount, so the trend to early elimination of them and their evidence based on precedent and stricter application of the rules of expertise and evidence is welcome.
In a judgment released in December 2013 from an Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, Bovaird v. Director, Ministry of the Environment, she and her evidence were rejected almost entirely, and what shreds of evidence were allowed were deemed biased and of low reliability. It probably wasn’t a good day in Waubra: The Foundation (WTF), when they read the five-pages of reasons why Ms. Laurie shouldn’t be allowed to show up in any tribunal or court related to wind energy ever.
I won’t quote this in detail, but I encourage anyone who deals with Ms. Laurie in any way to read it in its entirety. I’ll summarize the main points out of the five pages.
- Ms. Laurie is not a doctor and must stop referring to herself as one as part of an agreement with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) based on the outcome of an ethics complaint regarding her.
- She is not licensed or permitted to diagnose patients as she is de-registered and non-practicing.
- She has in fact been diagnosing people regardless.
- Most of her planned testimony required her to diagnose patients.
- Ms. Laurie has no training in research methodology and design.
- Ms. Laurie is not a trained acoustician.
- Ms. Laurie has not performed a comprehensive literature review related to wind energy.
- The Tribunal considered her a biased witness and as such gave less weight to what little evidence of hers was accepted.
It gets better, as it always does with Ms. Laurie. She was allowed to testify in an Alberta hearing for the BullCreek Wind Project in Alberta Canada in late 2013. This is after her testimony in Ontario for the Bovaird ERT where she admitted she was no longer allowed to call herself doctor. Yet she did represent herself as a doctor still.
On page 7 in the list of witnesses, she’s referred to in this manner:
Later, the judgment has this to say:
8.4.3 Dr. Sarah Laurie
309. Dr. Laurie is a medical doctor from Australia. Dr. Laurie practiced as a rural general practitioner from 1999 to 2002. Dr. Laurie no longer practices medicine. Dr. Laurie has spent the last three years working for the Waubra Foundation, an Australian organization whose goal is to facilitate properly conducted, independent multidisciplinary research into the health problems identified by residents living near wind turbines. Dr. Laurie is currently the chief executive officer of that organization. Dr. Laurie has previously testified on behalf of opponents of wind farm projects in other jurisdictions. Dr. Laurie stated in her report that her interest in the health effects of wind turbines was prompted by a proposed wind development near her home.
Finally, however, the judgment gives its opinion on her competence, skills and what she said:
375. Dr. Laurie’s written evidence also included her interpretation and discussion of numerous published and unpublished epidemiological and acoustical reports and studies. In the Commission’s view, Dr. Laurie lacks the necessary skills, experience and training to comment on the interpretation of epidemiologic studies or the interpretation of acoustical studies and reports. The Commission gave little weight to this aspect of Dr. Laurie’s evidence.
And of course this was diagnosis, which per the earlier judgment, she wasn’t allowed to make.
None of this is a surprise. Ms. Laurie had a very bad day in court in her native country of Australia in 2011 when she attempted to testify at an Environmental Resource and Development court. She had to admit she wasn’t an expert in anything she wanted to testify on and her submission was demolished by qualified experts in testimony.
Dr. Nina Pierpont was a long-term anti-wind campaigner against wind farms near her and her husband’s home when she performed a minor and very poorly constructed health survey and self-published a 294-page book based on it, naming the non-existent Wind Turbine Syndrome in the process. She interviewed 23 people over the phone who she contacted by advertising via anti-wind groups for people who blamed wind farms for their health issues, accepted statements about another 15 household members without speaking to them, saw no one in person and did not assess health histories of the participants outside of verbal statements by people surveyed. Her subjects were reduced because one was a new born and another suffered from dementia. She hypothesized a connection of infrasound and created 60 pages of charts, graphs and tables, a level of statistical analysis far beyond anything supportable by the paucity of data.
In October of 2013, she attempted to gain expert witness status at the Adelaide ERT in Ontario. Her Witness Statement showed mastery of arrogance, but no actual understanding of the requirements of a Witness Statement.
I will attempt to teach the representatives of NextEra and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, as well as the members of the Tribunal, enough about brain and ear physiology and pathophysiology, population-level studies in free-living organisms, and medical interviewing that they can understand the wind turbine-associated health issues.
Misunderstanding what the ERT was about, she went on to say:
I will also review the history since 1987 of the stratagems used by the wind industry and its consultants to deny health effects.
The entirety of her list of evidence and all referenced documents is worth looking at as well:
Pierpont, N. 2009. Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment. K-Selected Books, Santa Fe, NM, 294 pp.
The Tribunal provided full information on requirements for expert witnesses in plenty of time, provided early notice that the Witness Statement was inadequate, and ample opportunity to have it be appropriate. So how did the claimant, Esther Wrightman, respond?
I do not have Dr. Pierpont’s witness statement and evidence in comic book form.
It is, of course, worth noting that Dr. Pierpont has no expertise from education or experience in “brain and ear physiology and pathophysiology, population-level studies in free-living organisms, and medical interviewing”, so if she had actually submitted a witness statement that was actually pertinent, she would have been severely restricted to her actual expertise, which is to say, paediatrics.
Dr. Pierpont was rejected as an expert witness, unsurprisingly.
Dr. Robert McMurtry, orthopaedic surgeon, appointee to the Order of Canada, founder of the anti-wind Society for Wind Vigilance, long-serving Board Member of the anti-wind Association to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC), owner of a rural retirement residence in Prince Edward County Ontario near proposed wind farms, and initiator with his wife of a $2.5 million lawsuit against a nearby wind farm, also didn’t do well as an expert witness.
Dr. McMurtry’s main contribution to the anti-wind literature is a draft case definition of impact from wind farms which he published in the deindexed, no-impact factor Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, published by an associate professor of cross-disciplinary studies at the University of Toronto. There is little evidence of peer review of any substantive nature in the set of anti-wind articles published in the special edition in which Dr. McMurtry’s case definition was published.
In 2011, Dr. McMurtry participated in a broad challenge to the Renewable Energy Approval legislation in the Ontario Superior Court case Hanna v. Ontario (Attorney General). He was forced to admit that all of the evidence he attempted to bring to bear was already known to and assessed by the experts who created the legislation.
 The Ministry of the Environment considered all of the public comments provided. In addition, the ministry considered [page116] more than 100 studies and publicly available scientific literature, as identified in the application record before this court. As a consequence of all that input, some changes were made to the proposed regulation.
 The applicant acknowledges that virtually all of the information relied on by Dr. McMurtry to form his assessment regarding the health impacts of industrial wind turbines was known to the ministry at the time the regulation was being considered.
As he admitted on Day 35 of the Ostrander Point-related tribunal, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County v. Director, Ministry of the Environment in 2013, he resigned from both the Society for Wind Vigilance and APPEC, as well as dropping his lawsuit, just so that he could give the appearance of being unbiased and objective as an expert witness. That’s correct: he was a long-serving board member of the organization bringing the lawsuit under the REA. In the judgment for that Tribunal, he was permitted to testify due to his prior service related to health in Ontario, however his case definition was dismissed as evidence:
It should be noted that the Ostrander tribunal found against the wind farm based on impacts to the endangered Blanding’s Turtle, and that an appeal of that decision based on additional mitigations by the wind farm company is proceeding.
In the Bovaird v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Tribunal Dr. McMurtry attempted to testify about concerns well outside even the liberal boundary’s the ERT provided for him.
 The Tribunal finds that paras. 6, 7 and 8 of Dr. McMurtry’s reply affidavit discuss Ontario’s energy mix and its electricity generating capacity. These are clearly not within Dr. McMurtry’s area of expertise and the Tribunal does not admit them as evidence.
Finally, the ERT decided that even the testimony he was considered qualified to give was of no value:
 […] the Tribunal also does not find that Dr. McMurtry’s opinion about each of the post-turbine witnesses establishes they have experienced adverse health effects caused by wind turbines.
For those interested, I recommend reading the portion of that tribunal’s judgment in which Dr. Cornelia Baines, Professor Emerita of Public Health, Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology, MD, MSc, demolishes the basis and validity of Dr. McMurtry’s case definition.
The Tribunal found that Dr. McMurtry’s testimony was of no value in addition to the direct testimony of the individuals affected.
Consequently, the Tribunal did not admit Dr. McMurtry’s evidence obtained from these interviews. In making this finding, the Tribunal noted that the best evidence regarding their medical condition is the testimony they each provided in this hearing.
More recently, Dr. McMurtry suffered what must have been a moderately embarrassing rebuke during the South Kent ERT. Not only did he admit to starting two separate anti-wind organization and a lawsuit against a wind energy company, then dropping them to try to gain expert status, he made elementary mistakes in his testimony:
Dr. McMurtry’s evidence was not helpful as he misunderstood earlier evidence and gave his opinion evidence on the incorrect understanding that the sound level inside the greenhouses from the operation of the wind turbines would be 46 dBA.
The tribunal summarized their opinion of Dr. McMurtry’s evidence as follows:
Dr. McMurtry failed to provide any support for his proposition that a non-trivial percentage of persons who both live and work near turbines will be highly annoyed. … Nor is there any evidence about how any of the subjective influencing factors that affected the response of residential dwellers … apply to the greenhouse workers
The Director of the Ministry of the Environment correctly questions Dr. McMurtry’s judgment regarding wind turbines:
The Director questions Dr. McMurtry’s objectivity and is concerned that he is advocating on behalf of the Appellant. The Director submits that his evidence is largely improper reply evidence, and should be regarded with extreme caution and given little weight.
In February 2014, a Superior Court appeal of the Ostrander Point ERT decision was released. Judge Nordheimer, in rejecting appeals related to human health, had this to say about Dr. McMurtry’s testimony:
If Dr. McMurtry were not a long-serving and respected member of the Ontario medical establishment — which I fully respect as well –, there is little doubt that he would not be granted expert status in virtually any Ontario court due to obvious issues with bias and lack of actual expertise. He trades on the good he did in his career for selfish ends in his retirement: fighting wind farms near his Prince Edward County home.
Dr. Michael Nissenbaum is a radiologist — he takes and assesses diagnostic images of people –, not a researcher, acoustician, epidemiologist or public health expert. In 2010, he attempted to be granted expert witness status in an ERT in Saskatchewan Canada, regarding the Red Lily Wind Energy Corporations proposed wind farm.
Dr. Nissenbaum is a member of the Advisory Board of the anti-wind Society for Wind Vigilance. He performed what he termed a health survey of people near two wind farms in Maine, where he lives. By the standards of health surveys it was deeply flawed. The sample size was tiny. The response rate was low, when health surveys require at least 50% and often higher response rates to be considered useful. The survey identified that it was assessing wind energy noise and health problems on the cover page. The questions were leading, pushing responses upon the respondents. Dr. McMurtry attempted to enter the study into evidence into the 2013 Bovaird v. Director, Ministry of the Environment ERT in Ontario, and it was dismissed.
Dr. Nissenbaum has published one report regarding wind energy and health in a credible peer-reviewed, indexed journal with a calculated impact factor, a representation of health and sleep impacts in the journal Noise and Health. Two separate critiques of his paper were published in that journal pointing out the significant errors and erroneous conclusions.
He has consistently been denied standing as an expert witness at ERTs despite numerous attempts. In the judgment for the Red Lily Wind Energy Corporation and its proposed wind farm near the townships of Martin and Moosomin, Saskatchewan, the judge, J. Mills, had the following things to say about Dr. Nissenbaum and his research in his extensive comments from points -:
In 2011, Dr. Nissenbaum tried again in an Ontario ERT, the Erickson appeal. The ERT took the position that most witnesses brought forward would be allowed to testify, but the areas where they were explicitly considered experts would be listed, and their testimony considered in that light. What did they have to say about Dr. Nissenbaum?
Dr. Michael Nissenbaum’s Evidence
Dr. Nissenbaum was qualified to give expert opinion in the areas of diagnostic imaging with knowledge of medical physics, internal medicine and primary care.
In other words, the ERT recognized that Dr. Nissenbaum could credibly give evidence about subjects in his area of professional expertise. However, his entire testimony was outside of those areas of expertise, in the area of acoustics, sleep, public health and epidemiology. The ERT assessed his study as follows:
The Nissenbaum Study and Dr. Aramini’s application of it, raise enough questions about the Study to suggest that its results do not meet the legal threshold that wind turbine noise will cause serious harm to human health at the 550 m setback at the Kent Breeze Project. These questions include issues pertaining to: study design, statistical analysis, causation analysis and the transferability of the findings, given the difference in wind turbine design and in the physical lay-out and topography between the study site and that at the Kent-Breeze Project.
Most recently, Dr. Nissenbaum’s study was presented as evidence at the Bull Creek Wind Project siting in Alberta in 2013. The final judgment was as kind as any judgment has been of Dr. Nissenbaum’s study.
380. The Commission does not find the Nissenbaum study to be compelling evidence that wind turbine noise below 40 dBA will cause sleep disturbance or health effects. The Commission considers that the study’s use of noise data from publically available records and from a single day of measurements is not a sufficient basis for drawing conclusions about a dose-response relationship for wind turbine noise.
None of this is a surprise. When medical authorities review evidence, they do so based on weighted factors from evidence-based medicine. When this is applied to Nissenbaum’s study, as was done by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council as part of its deep review of the health concerns related to wind energy released in February of 2014, this is their assessment:
It’s remarkable given the consistent finding that it has no credibility or value that it continues to be submitted as evidence. And it’s remarkable that documentaries by credible organizations such as Wind Rush by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) continue to turn to Dr. Nissenbaum as if he were a credible expert.
Dr. Carl V. Phillips is an interesting character. For a long time, he was a fixture in courtrooms related to tobacco harm suits. He was in Canada for a while until the University of Alberta requested that he depart because the stink of his tobacco-funded research was unbearable. He then set up his own little research foundation, and has come out against peer-reviewed research.
A few years ago he decided to diversify his revenue stream and published a paper in the no-impact factor, unindexed Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society along with a raft of other anti-wind types also in this post. He’s also on the Advisory Board of the Society for Wind Vigilance, although he claims to have done little for them.
Dr. Phillips has sufficient credentials and savvy to avoid embarrassment in courtrooms most of the time. However, in late 2013 he testified for fee in an Alberta court related to the Bull Creek Wind Project. The final judgment, released in February 2014, wasn’t kind to his testimony:
382. The Commission carefully reviewed the evidence provided by Dr. Phillips and finds that his prediction that three per cent of area residents will experience severe health effects and approximately 50 per cent will experience some health effects is not supported by the evidence for the following reasons.
383. First, Dr. Phillips provided little rationale for his predictions regarding the number of people who would experience health effects from the project. Dr. Phillips stated he based his prediction that 50 per cent of nearby residents will experience health effects on “things like the Nissenbaum study”207 but did not elaborate further. Dr. Phillips also qualified his prediction that three percent of nearby residents would experience serious health effects and stated “[t]he numbers for the severe impacts are much fuzzier, and I hope I haven’t over-stated the precision that I’m claiming here, and those are based on situations where we seem to have pretty thorough collections of adverse event reports”.208
384. Second, Dr. Phillips confirmed that his conclusions were not based upon any particular adverse event reports and, in fact, he had not reviewed any adverse event reports in the preparation of his written evidence. He clarified that the adverse event reports or series that he discussed in his evidence were included just to demonstrate that such reports are out there.209
385. Third, Dr. Phillips confirmed that the data he looked at was not organized in a systematic way and that he did not break down the data to determine a dose-response relationship between wind turbine operation and the symptoms he described.210 In other words, he did not correlate the prevalence or the intensity of the constellation of symptoms he identified with the sound levels at the persons’ residences or the distance between the person experiencing the symptoms and the turbine(s) in question.
386. Fourth, Dr. Phillips conceded that he had not specifically defined the population upon which his conclusions were based upon. Dr. Phillips stated:
The population of interest for the analysis that I’ve done over the years has been less precisely defined than is ideal, though not particularly less precisely defined than many epidemiologic studies, which is basically people living near wind turbines. What does “near” mean? I think I’ve pointed out quite explicitly that we don’t know exactly. You know, 1 kilometre is definitely near. 2 kilometres I would argue is still definitely near. Is 3? Is 4? Probably not, maybe. So we’re talking about that population.211
He’s been testifying for years, yet he continues to have this remarkably lazy and shoddy evidence that is easily disassembled by qualified experts and disregarded by courts. It’s remarkable that anti-wind law suits continue to engage him, but as can be seen from this page, experts in this space are remarkably hard to come by.
Dr. Daniel Shepherd took his PhD in psychoacoustics and is a Senior Lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology, a position equivalent to a non-tenured Associate Professor. His basis for a claim of expertise related to wind energy is dominantly a study he performed of the Makara Valley wind farm in New Zealand. It had a very small study group of 39 participants and a non-equivalent control group, found no self-reported variance in health or illness, but nonetheless asserted strongly that setbacks greater than two kilometres were required in hilly terrain. As with others on this list, he is a member of the Society for Wind Vigilance.
He has been granted expert witness status at a couple of hearings in Canada and New Zealand, but has not faired well under cross-examination. Needless to say, his testimony did not sway anyone to find that wind farms caused health problems, that setbacks should be changed or that acoustics standards were inadequate.
But what was said of Dr. Shepherd’s testimony by judges and more robustly qualified experts? Well, in 2011, he gave evidence at a New Zealand Environment Court hearing for the Hurunui Wind Farm. Here’s what Judge Harland and Commissioners Oliver and Gollop had to say about his efforts:
Despite this rather brisk walloping for inaccuracy, omission and general weakness of testimony, Dr. Shepherd tried again in Canada at an Ontario ERT for Suncor’s Chatham Kent wind farm in 2013. Here’s what the more robustly qualified Dr. Kenneth Mundt had to say based on his 25 years of application of epidemiological concepts to potential environmental harm:
Dr. Mundt asserted that Dr. Shepherd does not provide scientific evidence to support his claims regarding stress related health effects caused by noise induced sleep deficits and annoyance. He stated that many of the references that Dr. Shepherd includes in his report are not peerreviewed published scientific research. Further, the interpretation of the results cited by Dr. Shepherd is severely limited due to the methodological issues in the designs and methods used in conducting these studies. Dr. Mundt also stated that Dr. Shepherd mischaracterized results from the van den Berg et. al. 2008 and Pedersen and Persson Waye, 2007 studies, as neither of these studies found evidence for health effects from wind turbine noise exposure, only associations between annoyance and sleep disturbance. Dr. Mundt stated that Dr. Shepherd did not explain how he identified and assessed the literature for quality and comparability, and therefore, it cannot be determined whether his conclusions are based on a thorough review of the literature or only a few selected studies. Dr. Mundt noted that Dr. Shepherd included a figure comparing annoyance levels to different sound levels from various noise sources. He raised concerns over this figure because the data is attributed to information from three studies, one of which is unpublished and it does not include the most current results from Pedersen et. al. 2009. Dr. Mundt questioned the data presented in Dr. Shepherd’s evidence, as he included no description of methodology for collecting or analyzing his data. Dr. Mundt stated that Dr. Shepherd fails to define “degradation of amenity” in his report and provides no scientific evidence to support his opinion that degradation of amenity at the Kent Breeze Wind Farms will cause serious adverse health effects.
It seems that two years was insufficient for Dr. Shepherd to actually improve the quality of his testimony. Needless to say, Dr. Shepherd’s testimony did not sway the Judge in that Tribunal either.
Bill Palmer has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, is a Professional Engineer, and worked for Bruce Nuclear as a shift supervisor and trainer. He took early retirement to fight wind farms, likely due to his residence being at the apex of two proposed wind farms. He’s been attempting to introduce evidence at Ontario ERTs for a few years with little success.
In the 2011 judgement from the Ontario Erickson ERT, his qualifications to be considered an expert were discussed at length. On p. 176, however, they said it didn’t matter if he were accorded expert status as his evidence was unconvincing and irrelevant compared to that of the acknowledged experts in his areas of concern.
It is quite clear that, even if the Tribunal were to accord Mr. Palmer’s evidence full status as expert evidence, there is no question that the Tribunal heard much more detailed and convincing evidence on the issues raised by Mr. Palmer from the other relevant witnesses. As set out below, the Tribunal has been able to reach clear conclusions on the issues raised by Mr. Palmer without having to decide whether his evidence should be considered expert evidence. In sum, even if the Tribunal were to treat Mr. Palmer’s evidence as expert evidence, the best that can be said of it is that Mr. Palmer provided evidence of some “risks” of harm that fall well below the statutory test applicable to this proceeding.
In October of 2013, Mr. Palmer attempted again to be granted expert witness status, this time at the Adelaide ERT in Ontario. This time he was limited in his testimony only to what he had expertise on, eliminating most of his evidence and testimony.
The Tribunal finds that the wording of the qualification sought by the Appellants for Mr. Palmer is imprecise, and his training, education and experience only support a more circumscribed qualification, as stated in the Tribunal’s oral ruling. Finally, the Tribunal notes, that this ruling is only in respect of his qualification to give opinion evidence. It is not an acceptance that all opinions, as presented in his Witness Statements, fall within the areas for which he has been qualified, nor is it an indication of the weight to be given to Mr. Palmer’s opinion evidence.
Mr. Palmer ignored his constraints often, and the Tribunal judgment was appropriately harsh:
 […] The Tribunal notes that, in his evidence, Mr. Palmer baldly states that shadow flicker will occur and states his opinion that it will distract drivers. However, Mr. Palmer was not qualified to give opinion evidence on the impact of shadow flicker.
 […] Mr. Palmer does not provide any explanation, nor was he qualified to give opinion evidence, on how a driver might respond to such flicker, and, to the extent it caused distraction, whether the nature of the distraction could interfere with a driver’s ability to safely drive the vehicle.
 In light of the deficiency in Mr. Palmer’s assessment and the un-contradicted opinion evidence of Mr. Dokouzian, the Tribunal finds that the Appellants have not established that shadow flicker will cause serious harm to drivers on Highway 402.
 In summary, due to the numerous deficiencies in Mr. Palmer’s assessment, and limitations respecting the evidence adduced in response to Mr. Palmer’s evidence, the Tribunal finds that it has received insufficient evidence to make any definitive findings regarding the probability that blade throw, tower collapse, and damage resulting from a tower fire, would cause harm to human health.
Despite being told at least twice that he is not an expert and that his evidence failed every test of relevance applied to it, Mr. Palmer attempted to gain expert status on multiple subjects he is not an expert on at the Arnow ERT in Ontario in December of 2013.
 Mr. Palmer gave evidence as a participant. He asked to be qualified to give opinion evidence as a professional engineer with expertise on acoustics and several matters related to public safety. Following submissions from the parties, the Tribunal qualified Mr. Palmer as a professional engineer with expertise in public safety risks due to turbine failure and some experience in the acoustics of wind turbines. The Tribunal directed Mr. Palmer to confine his testimony to public safety and acoustical assessment and to not speak to topics outside his area of qualification, such as health effects or shadow flicker along highways.
His evidence even as a participant ran into rocky territory, with actual experts pointing out the numerous challenges in the little he was allowed to speak about out of his laundry list:
 It was his [ Mr. Dokouzian] position that Mr. Palmer selectively referred to a few statements in that study and used them out of context, while ignoring the overall conclusion of the study, that is, that the wakes of adjacent turbines did not increase the level of noise from a wind farm.
 Mr. Dokouzian repeated the approach he used to calculate maximum sound power levels and took issue with Mr. Palmer’s approach. He criticized him for “cherry-picking” the highest sound power level at each octave band, adding them and adjusting them to reach a figure that is higher than the maximum possible sound power level. He stated that such an approach is not indicated in any standard or guideline and is not justified with wind turbines. He explained that the specifications Mr. Palmer found for the Siemens models that were used in a wind farm in Nova Scotia were specifications from the 2009 models of those turbines, whereas for the Project, he used the specifications from the 2013 models, which indicate evolution in the certainty of their measurements, and somewhat lower sound levels as a result.
 Mr. Coulson commented on the noise measurements undertaken by Mr. Palmer that were reported in the papers he has presented at conferences. Mr. Coulson identified a concern with the instrumentation used by Mr. Palmer as being not of high quality for acoustical measurements and having a large degree of noise associated with the equipment that Mr. Palmer did not account for. He also expressed concern about Mr. Palmer’s lack of familiarity with the noise measurement standards and with some of the aspects of the locations he chose for carrying out his measurements.
 … He also disagreed with the distinction made by other Environmental consultants between “normal” amplitude modulation and “other” amplitude modulation; however, he agreed that many researchers in the field make that distinction.
 Mr. Palmer was questioned about the papers he has prepared and presented at conferences. These papers were largely based on noise measurements he carried out at existing wind farms in Ontario. He asserted that his measurements were conducted in accordance with international standards, but was unable to identify the particular standard to which they conform and was unable to state the confidence limits with his data, although he suggested it might be around +/- 1.5 dB.
 Mr. Palmer identified his concern that the Project was within the minimum setback from 500 kV power lines established by Hydro One so that a turbine failure could lead to a failure in the electrical system corridor. When questioned, he admitted that he had never seen a Hydro One standard or technical guideline and did not know whether his concern was the basis for a setback between turbines and power lines.
 Mr. Palmer, a participant, in his final submissions sought to clarify and defend the evidence he gave, which he argues was misrepresented by the respondents’ expert witnesses.
Cherry-picking, ignoring context, using the wrong source data, using inaccurate instruments inappropriately, not being familiar with standards, not accepting the variance in amplitude modulation, not learning from substantive criticisms by actual experts: the list of Palmer’s errors just gets longer yet he continues to try to testify. The Approval Holder perhaps said it best:
 Regarding the evidence of Mr. Palmer on the risk to public safety due to turbine collapse, blade failure, fire and ice throw, the Approval Holder submits that his evidence is unreliable, unscientific, provides no meaningful analysis of risk and is misleading.
Mike McCann is a real estate appraiser from Chicago. Contrary to what you might expect, he was slated by the appellants in the Adelaide ERT in Ontario to testify about habitat destruction from wind farms, a clear divergence from any expertise he might have.
He’s a regular in anti-wind circles, constantly attempting to push his very weak case studies and misapplied statistical analyses to prove that wind farms cause property value harm, in face of the overwhelming evidence that they don’t in North America. At present, he has done two small studies covering 81 property transactions, compared to the nine major studies in North America and Europe covering 270,000 property transactions using appropriate statistical methods which show no damage to property values.
Mr. McCann was slated as a witness for the appellant in the Adelaide ERT in Ontario in October 2013. He was rejected as a witness before testifying.
Ben Lansink and Michael McCann, whom the Tribunal has ruled cannot testify in this proceeding.
Ben Lansink, like Mike McCann, is a property appraiser. Also like Mike McCann, he was slated to testify on habitat destruction at the Adelaide ERT in October 2013.
Similarly to Mr. McCann, Mr. Lansink has a tiny case study covering 12 property transactions which he claims in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary proves property value harm. For this, he is regularly cited and encouraged by anti-wind campaigners.
Mr. Lansink was rejected as a witness before testifying.
Ben Lansink and Michael McCann, whom the Tribunal has ruled cannot testify in this proceeding.
Rick James is a professional acoustician. Like a handful of other acousticians he has difficulty sticking to his actual expertise when talking about wind energy, and often asserts that it causes health damages.
When he has attempted to testify at wind farm related lawsuits in the USA, his testimony has been easily demolished.
He was slated to appear at the Adelaide ERT in Ontario in October 2013 as well, and wished to introduce copious testimony unrelated to acoustics.
The ERT restricted his testimony strictly to matters of acoustics, eliminating most of his submission.
Mr. James also gave testimony at K2 Wind Huron County ERT. He went well beyond his professional expertise there, and this was pointed out clearly by council for the Ministry of the Environment:
 The Approval Holder states that Mr. James has a bias against wind development and purported to give evidence beyond the scope of his expertise, and in so doing breached his obligations as an independent expert and the Tribunal’s Practice Direction for Technical and Opinion Evidence (“Practice Direction for Opinion Evidence”).
It would appear that the ERT agreed:
the Appellants had not established that the threshold to establish a deprivation or “serious psychological or physical harm” had been met.
Mr. James also showed up at the Armow ERT and like Mr. Palmer ran into strong headwinds as he tried to speak outside of his area of expertise and then made substantial errors and exaggerations within that area of purported expertise that he was duly called upon:
 The Tribunal considered the submissions of the parties on this issue and qualified Mr. James to given opinion evidence on matters related to acoustics and noise control engineering and wind turbines. The Tribunal excluded from its consideration evidence provided by Mr. James concerning the health effects of wind turbines, and epidemiology.
 …He is a member of the Institute of Noise Control Engineers (“INCE”), but is not certified by the INCE as an acoustical engineer, nor is he a registered professional engineer in any jurisdiction.
 … when questioned, Mr. James conceded that IEC 61400-11 does not reference IEC 61400-14, nor do the MOE’s Noise Guidelines. He also conceded that, as a result of questioning in two previous Tribunal cases, he knew this to be the case prior to drafting his witness statement in this case.
 … He did concede that he is not an epidemiologist and was not aware of the limits of the Waterloo study identified by Dr. Bigelow. He also agreed that he did not include reference to epidemiological studies that came to differing conclusions in his witness statement.
 Mr. James testified that he considers the characteristics of low frequency noise and infrasound associated with wind turbines to be unique compared to other types of infrasound in the natural environment. He described them as pulses of very short duration within a very narrow frequency range, caused by the rotation of the turbine blades, which he referred to as “blade pass” effect. He stated that these pulses are similar to “gunshots”. He conceded that the pulses do not in fact sound like gunshots, but that they are similar in duration.
 He [Mr. Coulson] also criticized the way Mr. James used the confidence limits in IEC 61400-14, commenting that Mr. James quoted the confidence level as 1.645, whereas it is in fact 1.645 times the total standard deviation. In addition, he stated that the measurement uncertainty from IEC 621400-11 should not simply be added to the IEC 61400-14 confidence level, as Mr. James did, but that it is included in the derivation of the confidence level.
The picture around Mr. James becomes clearer and more troubling. He’s not a certified acoustician or a registered professional engineer, but identifies himself and sells his services as both. He continues to try to introduce evidence that is cherry-picked, ignoring studies which do not support his biases. He is prone to hyperbole while on the witness stand. And he doesn’t understand statistics and the standards he refers to. He attempts to make erroneous claims despite having been corrected in exactly the same type of ERT proceedings previously. Yet he continues to put himself forward as an expert.
Eric Erhard is a retired professional engineer who lives near a proposed wind farm in southern Ontario. He attempted to gain accreditation as an expert witness related to application of ISO standards on noise modeling to wind turbine noise specifically, based on his experience with the relevant ISO standard in his professional career for the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Inc. v. Director, Ministry of the Environment tribunal.
The Tribunal was not convinced:
 In reviewing Mr. Erhard‟s submissions, the Tribunal finds that he does not have the specialized education, training or experience to qualify him to give expert evidence with respect to the application of ISO 9613-2 to noise from wind turbines. Mr. Erhard did not specifically submit that he had any specialized education or training with respect to the application of ISO 9613-2 to noise from wind turbines. Instead, he relied on his experience working for a company as an engineer and working with ISO 9613-2.
 […] For the purpose of giving expert opinion evidence, the Tribunal finds that Mr. Erhard has failed to establish that the ISO standard can be applied to evaluate a project as complex as an industrial wind turbine facility by someone who does not have specialized knowledge and experience for this type of application. […]
The Tribunal agreed that he could speak to the ISO standard, but as he had no expertise on its application to wind farms and presented no evidence that his concerns related to application of the standard would have any impact on health, it was immaterial.
Les Huson is an engineer (MSc) and acoustician who runs a small acoustics consultancy, L Huson and Associates Pty Ltd which is a member in good standing of the Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants. He regularly submits material against wind turbines and gains expert standing based on his credentials.
However, his testimony doesn’t fare well. In the ERD in 2011 related to the Allendale East wind farm, he attempted to bring evidence based on an alternative noise model than the standard ISO model more generally used. Then he misused it:
Mr. Huson also submitted a lengthy set of material to the Victoria VCAT case related to the Cherry Tree wind farm in 2013. It was only referenced in the decision as being accepted over objections, and the Cherry Tree decision of course found in favour of the wind farm, preferring the judgment of the public health organizations of Australia to Mr. Huson.
Mr. Huson gave evidence in 2013 at an Environment Court in New Zealand for the Hurunui wind farm proposal. Again he attempted to discredit an existing standard with inadequate understanding of it, and his evidence dismissed:
Mr. Huson as a several year history of submitting material which doesn’t bear scrutiny, yet continues to be brought forward as an expert witness.
Professor Colin Hansen is an Emeritus Professor of the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Adelaide. He took his PhD in Mechanical Engineering. He has over the past few years been brought forward as an expert witness related to noise in wind energy disputes of various types.
In 2010, he testified in an Environment, Resources and Development court for the Hallett wind farm in South Australia:
 Professor Hansen gave evidence in the appellants’ case. Professor Hansen is highly qualified and an expert acoustic engineer, but he has very little experience with wind farms. Professor Hansen’s brief from the appellants was basically to provide a critique of Mr Turnbull’s evidence and other information about the acoustic properties of the proposed wind farm. He was not, therefore, in a position to put a prediction of his own up against Mr Turnbull’s. Professor Hansen was concerned that, at higher wind speeds, the wind may exceed Mr Turnbull’s predictions. Part of the basis for this was a desire for proof beyond the manufacturer’s assurance that the noise level would not increase at wind speeds over 12 m/s. No factual basis was provided for Professor Hansen’s concern. Mr Knill’s explanation of the manufacturer’s assurance was provided in his statement at para 42:
 We accept Mr Knill and Mr Turnbull’s evidence on this point.
Professor Hansen continues to provide submissions to wind siting proposals.
Dr. Adrian Upton, Emeritus Professor of McMaster University, is a relatively new addition to the ranks of purported experts who attempts to testify on matters outside of any actual expertise, and as a result is castigated by the courts for his arrogance. This occurred at the Bull Creek Wind Project siting judgment by the Alberta Utilities Commission.
373. In the Commission’s view, Dr. Upton did not appear to have specialized knowledge or experience specifically with respect to wind turbines and their health effects (other than epilepsy). Dr. Upton appeared to be unfamiliar with the qualifications of some of the authors of the reports he relied upon in forming his opinion on the health impacts of wind turbines or whether the reports he referenced were published or peer reviewed. The Commission took this apparent unfamiliarity with the subject into account when it weighed Dr. Upton’s evidence regarding the general health impacts of wind turbines on nearby residents.
It’s likely that courts will be seeing more of this retiree in the next couple of years, as he testifies on his actual area of expertise, agreeing that wind turbines won’t cause epileptics any problems, and then goes on to unsupported testimony on matters he doesn’t know much about.
Debbie Shubat is a Registered Nurse and teaches nursing at Sault College in Sault St. Marie in northern Ontario. As pictured, she has been protesting plans for a local wind farm near Bow Lake, something which like many others on this list led her to believe that she’s qualified to be an expert witness on wind farms and health.
The Environmental Review Tribunal begged to differ in their decision released July 9, 2014.
 Ms. Shubat asked to be qualified to give opinion evidence as an expert in public health nursing and the interactions between wind turbines and human and community health. She has a Master of Science in Nursing degree, and was qualified as an expert community health nurse in a previous REA appeal, Moseley v. Director (Ministry of the Environment),  O.E.R.T.D. No. 23 (“Moseley”). The Approval Holder and Director opposed her qualification on the basis that her expertise does not extend to the impact of wind turbines on human health.
 The Tribunal declined to qualify Ms. Shubat as an expert, ruling that the subject matter of her expertise, that being nursing and community health nursing, does not qualify her to give expert opinion evidence on the impact of wind turbines on human health. As outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v Mohan,  2 S.C.R. 9 (“Mohan”), the field of expertise must be relevant to the issue to be decided, in order for the Tribunal to receive opinion evidence. The Tribunal reviewed Ms. Shubat’s witness statement and found that all of the opinions she expressed were related to the impact of wind turbines on human health. She testified that any expertise she possesses in this regard comes from self-study. Ms. Shubat was clear that, as a nurse, she is not qualified to diagnose medical conditions and would not purport to do so. Ms. Shubat proceeded to give her evidence as a lay (fact) witness.
 A number of documents about the impact of wind turbines on human health were attached to Ms. Shubat’s witness statement as documents that she wished to rely upon. However, as Ms. Shubat was found not to have the qualifications to interpret and explain them for the Tribunal, or to put them into context within the existing scientific debate around wind turbines and human health, the articles could not be accepted for the truth of their contents and were not admitted into evidence.
 Ms. Davies requested designation by the Tribunal as an expert in social work. Ms. Davies has a Masters Degree in social work and considerable professional experience. The Approval Holder and Director had no issue with her professional qualifications as a social worker, but objected to the Tribunal qualifying her to give expert opinion evidence in the hearing on the basis that her qualification does not extend to the impacts of wind turbines on human health.
 The Tribunal ruled that Ms. Davies’ expertise as a social worker is not sufficiently related to wind turbines and harm to human health to give the opinions she is purporting to give, and declined to designate her as an expert. In this respect the Tribunal relies on Mohan, as above. As with Ms. Shubat, the Tribunal also did not allow into evidence the documents Ms. Davies wished to rely on in forming her opinion, which were all outside of her area of expertise. Ms. Davies therefore gave her evidence as a lay witness.
Those paying attention to the regular producers of health scare literature related to wind farms will note the absence of Carmen Krogh in the above material. Ms. Krogh is a retired pharmacist and held senior administrative roles related to pharmaceutical training and publication. She’s also on the Advisory Board of the Society for Wind Vigilance.
She has published semi-regularly on the subject of wind and health, bootstrapping very weak material including hers in the unindexed, no impact factor, Bulletin for Science, Technology and Society. She with her husband (a Chartered Management Accountant) and a rural family doctor — managed to publish a misleading commentary in the journal Canadian Family Physician in 2013, targeting family physicians with one-sided and poorly supported disinformation regarding wind energy and health. She and the same authors subsequently managed to get another poorly supported health scare article published in the Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine in early 2014.
She was involved in the flawed WindVoice health survey, which was discontinued for unstated ethical concerns, and this survey is regularly cited by anti-wind witnesses, including those above. For context, the self-reporting survey despite heavy promotion by anti-wind campaigning groups, found only 131 complainants including those outside of Ontario, despite there being 1,200 wind turbines in Ontario alone at the time of its discontinuance. It is regularly and robustly criticized in ERTs by experts who find it leading, weak and unreliable. When the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council assessed it as part of their deep review, they had this to say:
Yet Carmen Krogh has not attempted to gain expert witness status herself at ERTs or in civil suits that I’ve been able to discover. Evidently she realizes, unlike the other people listed in this post, that she is not qualified to give testimony that any court would consider valid or reliable, and chooses to spend her efforts fighting wind energy elsewhere.