The Waubra Foundation, or more accurately, the Sarah Laurie Support Group

One of the Wind Power Ethics pages*

The Waubra Foundation is a misleadingly named group of wind farm opponents with very little connection to the township of Waubra and a very dubious right to call themselves a foundation.

Previous to December 2013 the Waubra Foundation were discussed on my WindHealth page. Also see notes on the so-called Waubra disease.

Written 2013/12/17, last edited 2023/06/05
Contact: email (David Clarke) – ©

I noticed in June 2023 that while the is no longer a Facebook page for the Waubra Foundation the Web page is still there, and someone, at least, is still searching the world for evidence in support of 'Wind Turbine Syndrome'.

The WF found a court ruling in France back in 2021 supporting a couple who complained about nearby wind turbines. The court found that the wind farm caused "abnormal neighbourly disturbance". The ruling was said to be "unprecedented". The term "Wind farm syndrome" seems to have been applied by a journalist. As I have written on another page on this site, irresponsible journalism leads too many problems.


Revokation of 'health promotion' status

On 2014/12/11 the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) revoked the Waubra Foundation's status as a 'health promotion charity'.

The ACNC cannot give details on the reason for its action, but it seems very likely that it has recognised the true nature of the so-called WF.

So it seems that the WF has been accepting tax-deductible donations under false pretences for several years.

WF reaction to the NHMRC report of February 2014

The WF (that is, Sarah Laurie, on behalf of her support group) has said that they were delighted in regard to some of the recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council's report. This is interesting, coming on the same day the NHMRC released the report, as the report trashed what the WF has been claiming for several years.

This suggests several things:

  • The WF were expecting that the NHMRC would find that wind turbines do not cause ill health (Ms Laurie well knows that all of the evidence is against her stance);
  • The WF decided that claiming that the NHMRC was corrupt, as they did when the South Australian EPA produced results that went against the WF's stance, would be bad policy;
  • They wanted to place a positive spin on what to them was a highly negative outcome (but one that they fully expected). They are canny enough to know that always being negative is not a good look.
Peter Mitchell, Chairman of the WF, was an official observer for the NHMRC review, so would presumably have been aware of the contents of the report before it was officially released.
Construction at Waubra Wind Farm on a grey Victorian morning
Some of the Waubra turbines in November 2012
Ms Laurie (previously Dr Laurie) was the 'Medical Director' and is now the 'Chief Exececutive Officer' of the 'Waubra Foundation'. The use of terms like 'Foundation', 'Medical Director' and 'Chief Executive Officer' give the impression of a large organisation; this is not so. (When it suits the 'Foundation' it consists of a "small group of volunteers"; see What right to the Waubra name, below.)

Ms Laurie and the other 'directors' of the 'Foundation' no doubt realise that if she spoke simply as Ms Laurie, one time GP, she would have little credibility; as 'Medical Director' of the 'Waubra Foundation' they hope to make people believe that she is someone who is worthy of listening to.

The Foundation's message needs all the apparent credibility that the directors can manage. After all, they are trying to convince everyone in the world that there is something coming from wind turbines that doesn't come from other generators, such as diesel, gas, or coal fired generators; that is very hard to detect, affects some people but not others; some at great distances, while leaving nearby wind farm workers unaffected; and makes these susceptible people ill.

I suspect that the other members of the WF, who are all opposed to wind power, are cynically using Ms Laurie, while quite probably not believing in her strange ideas.

Over a period of several years (2013-14) the only name on the contact line on the bottom of the pages of the Waubra Foundation Net site that I could find was Ms Laurie's; the only personal email address was Ms Laurie's.

As of August 2013 there was a new Net site of the Waubra Foundation and there was a page about the Waubra Foundation on Source Watch.

The first stated objective of the Waubra Foundation (WF) is to: "Gather, investigate and review complaints of health problems that have been perceived by the complainants as being associated with living or working close to wind turbines or such other industrial sources that may be considered as relevant." This gives the impression of a neutral group who are looking for facts. This impression is emphasised by objective number eleven that states: "At all times to establish and maintain complete independence from government, industry and advocacy groups for or against wind turbines." That this impression is false can be seen by the very one-sided view of wind power taken by the Waubra Foundation – so far as I know the Waubra Foundation has never made any positive statements about wind power; see too " The 'independence' of the Waubra Foundation" below.

The Waubra Foundation has no physical link to the township of Waubra. It's registered address is Level 1, 183 Bank Street, SOUTH MELBOURNE VIC 3205, the same as that of Lowell Pty. Ltd. (Peter Mitchell is a director of Lowell Pty. Ltd.)

On 2011/10/13 the Waubra Foundation net site was claiming on their 'Our Organisation' page that Dr Sarah Laurie had an MD degree (a higher research degree). Professor Simon Chapman wrote a piece that was published on Crikey exposing the links that the Waubra Foundation has with anti-wind power groups and mentioning that Ms Laurie did not have an MD degree. I saw on 2011/10/16 that the claim had gone from the Waubra Foundation page. (Ms Laurie informed me that as far as she was concerned this was all a misunderstanding, and I accept that; but whether the person who put the 'MD' on the Net site was intending to deceive is unknown.)

Light entertainment

A quote from the Waubra Foundation information-residents-turbines page:
"In the case of wind turbines, in some locations residents have noticed batteries on phones, cars, tractors, and cameras discharging very quickly, flourescent light bulbs lighting up spontaneously and electricity meters spinning much more quickly despite homes being abandoned and little electricity being used. These observations by the residents suggest changes to the electromagnetic fields (EMF) are occurring, indicating that new sound and vibration frequencies are not the only change to their environment.
This suggests that the author of the Waubra Foundation Net pages is willing to write pretty much anything, so long as it seems to reflect badly on wind turbines.

Some of the Waubra turbines
Some of the Waubra turbines

The 'independence' of the Waubra Foundation

There are very good reasons to believe that the Waubra Foundation's claims to be an independent and impartial body are false. An interesting and revealing exposé by Sandi Keane can be read on the Independent Australia site (as of August 2011).

According to Sandi Keane and other sources:

  • Peter Mitchell, Founder and Chair of the Waubra Foundation, helped set up and fund the Australian Landscape Guardians (ALG) and actively opposed Stockyard Hill Wind Farm. He has a number of connections to mining interests, including fossil fuels and uranium;
  • Kathy Russell, another director of the WF, is Vice President of the ALG and was active in opposing the Winchelsea Wind Farm;
  • Another director, Tony Hodgson, helped fund the anti Collector Wind Farm campaign and is involved with the Booroowa Landscape Guardians;
  • Another director, Michael Wooldridge, actively opposed the Bald Hills Wind Farm.
  • The address of the Waubra Foundation is PO Box 1136, South Melbourne 3205, apparently the same as that of the Australian Landscape Guardians and Peter Mitchell.
  • There are no pro-wind-farm members of the Waubra Foundation to balance the anti wind farm members.
Some of the above was denied by Ms Laurie. I have not independently tried to see where the truth lies, however no person who was not strongly anti-wind-power would willingly be associated with any organisation whose Medical Director (now CEO) produced statements and demands as outrageous as those made by Ms Laurie.

The Australian Landscape Guardians are a vociferous anti-wind-power group that seem to take very little other action to protect landscapes; they seem to be unconcerned about coal mining and coal-seam gas exploitation for example.

Peter Mitchell said on the ABC's Four Corners of 2011/07/25 "We are trying to bring to people's attention – developers, bureaucrats, government ministers, that wind turbines are dangerous to residents' health. And that's what I'm on about". This is far more negative than the neutral statements of the official Foundation objectives. The article by Sandi Keane says that "Mitchell certainly has interests in the fossil fuel industry. These include founding Chairman of the Moonie Oil Company Ltd. and Chairman or a Director of related companies including Clyde Petroleum plc, Avalon Energy Inc, North Flinders Mines Ltd, Paringa Mining & Exploration plc (most now delisted on the ASX)."

Of course the fossil fuel industry does not want to see sustainable energy taking over from fossil fuels.

In their turn the ALG are linked to the so-called Australian Environment Foundation (AEF), an off-shoot of the right-wing think tank the pro-nuclear Institute of Public Affairs. Both the ALG and IPA have climate-change scepticism leanings. Randall Bell, President of the ALG, has said that "claims the Earth is warming are scientifically unreliable" and that only 1% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was put there by Man.

ABC TV's Media Watch did a segment on the IPA and AEF on 2012/03/19, linking them to another astroturfer, the so-called Australian Climate Science Coalition, which is actually an anti climate-science group. Significantly, Ian Plimer is a member of the 'Scientific Advisory Panel' of the ACSC. (Mr Plimer used to be Professor of Mining Geology at Adelaide University, where, I believe, he became something of an embarrassment due to his unscientific stance on climate change. He left the University to devote himself more fully to his considerable mining interests.)

I believe that the Waubra Foundation have not made public the source of their funding.

Notes on the claims and demands of Sarah Laurie, Medical Director of the Waubra Foundation, are on a separate page.

The Waubra people want their town's good name back

A few of the turbines of the Waubra Wind Farm
Waubra turbines
The community of Waubra have raised a petition with 316 signatures and have submitted it to the so-called Waubra Foundation demanding the good name of their town back. (See, on this site, a published letter from a Waubra resident demanding an apology from the Waubra Foundation, and elsewhere Indepdent Australia, 2013/09/28).

Cimara Pearce wrote a piece for the Weekly Times Now on 2013/12/17 in which she reported the the Waubra Foundation (WF) had rejected calls by over three hundred petitioners for the lobby group to change its name. A press release stated:

"To change the name now would halt the momentum achieved by years of work by a small team of volunteers."
It went on to state rather aragantly:
"The Foundation will not be making further comment on its decision."
So, it seems that the Board of the WF are thumbing their collective noses at the people of Waubra.

Neil Barrett's videos: The Way the Wind Blows

Neil Barrett spent a lot of time finding out how the Waubra locals felt about the Waubra Wind Farm and sumarised his work in a short video (no longer available) titled How the Wind Blows. There were a total of twelve videos; in addition to the twelve-minute summary, there is an introduction and ten interviews with neighbours and hosting farmers.

Some of the people Neil interviewed also gave their opinions of the Waubra Foundation.

Friends of the Earth on the credibility of the WF

The way of the future
Waubra turbine
Producing electricity from the thin air

Friends of the Earth media release on 2012/01/24

The FoE had, through a Freedom of Information request directed to NSW public health authority, NSW Health, obtained documents that cast considerable doubts over the credibility of the Waubra Foundation (WF). The media release included notes on the NSW Health Department's assessment of the WF's claims that wind turbines cause health problems. The assessment found that the claims of the WF were of the 'lowest category of scientific evidence', and had major methodological flaws.

Mike Barnard on the WF

Mike Barnard has written an extensive piece titled Seven things you must know about the Waubra Foundation and Sarah Laurie. His main points:
  1. They have no relevant expertise and reject independent expertise and peer reviewed science;
  2. They misrepresent themselves as well as the work of others;
  3. They were formed by a coalition of wealthy, NIMBY landowners;
  4. They are consistently unethical in their operations;
  5. They are global warming deniers;
  6. They have close ties to fossil fuel and mining interests opposed to wind energy;
  7. They live nowhere near Waubra and the town is outraged at the WF's use of the town's name.
He provided detailed justifications for his statements.

Improper use of tax-free status?

Climate Spectator, 2012/08/08, published an article titled Should taxpayers be funding anti-wind farm legal action? Among other things, the article made a good case that the Waubra Foundation was not entitled to 'tax free charity' status.

On 2013/07/06 I sent an objection to the Australian Tax Office against the Waubra Foundation's tax free status.


Wikipedia definition: "A foundation is a legal categorization of nonprofit organizations that will typically either donate funds and support to other organizations, or provide the source of funding for its own charitable purposes." The Waubra Foundation is not a foundation in this sense; it consists of a few people who don't like wind turbines and Ms Sarah Laurie, who mistakenly believes that wind turbines make people ill. It seems that the word 'foundation' has been used simply to try to give the group more credibility. Ms Laurie, who calls herself the Medical Director, and more recently the Chief Executive Officer, of the Waubra Foundation seems to be the main spokesperson for the group.

Michael Wooldrige

Another member of the Waubra 'Foundation' board is Dr Michael Wooldridge who, according to an article written in the Australian by John Conroy on 2014/07/28, was at risk of being banned as a company director for a period of up to ten years for his part in the collapse of Prime Trust.

The WF's claim that wind turbine noise is 'torture'

In late October 2014 the Waubra Foundation made the bizarre claim that the sleep deprivation due to wind turbine noise amounted to torture inflicted by wind turbine operators on neighbours of wind farms.

I have written a satirical sketch on this elsewhere on this site.

Coincidentally, Health Canada, in November 2014 produced a Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study: Summary of Results. Health Canada found that health and quality of life were unaffected by nearby wind turbines, some annoyance was found.

With particular regard to the noise and sleep, Health Canada reported that:

"The following were not found to be associated with WTN [wind turbine noise] exposure:
  • self-reported sleep (e.g., general disturbance, use of sleep medication, diagnosed sleep disorders);
  • self-reported illnesses (e.g., dizziness, tinnitus, prevalence of frequent migraines and headaches) and chronic health conditions (e.g., heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes); and
  • self-reported perceived stress and quality of life.
While some individuals reported some of the health conditions above, the prevalence was not found to change in relation to WTN levels."
In other words, there was no link found between sleep disorders and actual levels of wind turbine noise.

Related pages

Related external pages...

Source Watch on the Waubra 'Foundation':
"The Waubra Foundation is a front or astroturf group created by Peter Mitchell on March 1, 2010 to oppose wind farming in Australia. It was registered with Business Affairs as an incorporated body on that date but later deregistered on July 13, 2011."
Source Watch is a respected organisation that assesses the credibility of Net sites.

Wikipedia says of the Waubra Foundation:

"Claims made by the Waubra Foundation relating to wind turbine syndrome and wind farm syndrome are considered pseudo scientific and are not recognised as actual diseases by any international disease classification system, nor do they appear in any title or abstract in the United States National Library of Medicine's PubMed database. Wind turbine syndrome has been characterized as pseudoscience. Since 2003, 25 reviews have been published of the scientific literature on wind turbines and health. These studies have consistently found no reason to believe that wind turbines are harmful to health."

Related pages on this site...

Wind power and health

Sarah Laurie

Wind energy opposition

Poor journalism has many victims