Call for wind farm moratorium

Posted on June 30, 2011 by

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The following article comes from the Hamilton Spectator. The (misleadingly named) Australian Environment Foundation are calling for a complete stop to wind farm development until the Senate Inquiry’s recommended health study has taken place.

We support such a study going ahead, but we have to note that there has so far been no peer-reviewed evidence anywhere to link wind farms with direct health effects. The $2.5 million set aside in the Victorian state budget to identify “no-go” regions for wind farms would have been much better directed to such a health study which might help to clear the air in this debate.

Infrasound is often misunderstood, and the science of acoustics seems dauntingly complex to those unfamiliar with it. For this reason infrasound can appear to be a more sinister threat than it really is. For those wishing to read more about the issue of infrasound and noise effects on health, it is worth looking at this collection of resources provided by the renewable energy industry body, the Clean Energy Council.

It would be wrong to support a blanket moratorium on new developments. We support the continued rollout of wind farms with the proper planning and consultation, including of course carefully ensuring audible noise is managed appropriately.

MORATORIUM
New call for wind farms to halt

The Spectator, 25 June 2011

ANGELA CROMIE

CALLS are being made to put a halt on all wind farm development in the region until potential health risks are better understood.

The calls come on the back of a new Danish study, which suggested that larger wind turbines created lower frequency infrasound.

The lower infrasound emitted by wind turbines has been a hot topic of debate with some people saying a strong link exists between the noise put out by the turbines and negative health effects.

Possible health effects linked with infrasound include head aches, broken sleep and blood pressure issues.

While the study does not outline any potential health risks to people living in a close proximity to wind farms, The Australian Environment Foundation has called for a moratorium on all development until the potential risks can be clarified.

AEF executive director, Max Rheese said the jump to larger turbines meant larger related risks.

“These conclusions are entirely consistent with what many people living near wind farms have been telling us for several years,” he said.

“As turbine size increased from around 50 metres to over 150 metres and the number of turbines increased, so have the complaints about the noise.

“What we did not realise is that the nature of turbine noise was changing with the size of the turbines.”

Mr Rheese said the AEF fully supported a moratorium on development until health issues surrounding wind farm infrasound was independently investigated.

The proposed wind farm three kilometres south of Penshurst is expected to have wind turbines at a possible height of 175 metres from ground to blade tip.

Penshurst resident, Keith Staff said the health risks associated with wind farms were real and he did not support the proposed wind farm.

“There’s enough anecdotal evidence and factual evidence now for it to say these people are not imagining this,” he said.

“It doesn’t affect everybody, this noise health thing, but it certainly affects some.

“I don’t think it’s viable any longer for the wind energy proponents to deny health (risks).”

Mr Staff said wind farms were a polarising issue.

“You might have your opinion, fine, and I have my opinion,” he said.

“The whole thing is a divisive situation and I don’t know how that can ever be changed.”

Mr Staff said he strongly supported a moratorium on development but also hoped the proposed farm would be completely stopped.

“Most people have a plan A and a plan B. Our plan A; this is stopped. Our plan B; there isn’t one,” he said.

“If there is a plan B, it would be drastic reductions in the number of turbines and much, much further away from Penshurst.

“Anything which is 10 to 12 kilometres away from small towns or buildings doesn’t pose a dominating factor.”

Mr Staff’s hope for a halt to the development seems more possible with the recent ruling by the Environment, Resources and Development Court of South Australia, to overrule a local council’s decision to allow a 46 turbine wind farm at Allendale East on the basis that it would “introduce additional prominent and foreign elements into the locality which will detract, from the existing character and level of visual amenity, to an unacceptable degree”.

A senate enquiry into the effects of wind farms, which was released on Thursday, did not find direct links between wind farms and health risks but recommended studies into noise and health issues relating to the farms be conducted.

Clean Energy Council wind community engagement manager, Lisa Taylor said the peak body did not support any calls for a moratorium on developments.

“The Clean Energy Council rejects a call for a moratorium on wind farms because research shows nine out of every 10 Australians would like more renewable energy,” she said.

“The rate of complaints from residents living near wind farms in Australia is very low. The opponents of wind energy are a vocal minority.

“Tens of thousands of people around the world live near wind farms without suffering ill-effects. Many have done so for several decades.”

Ms Taylor said studies had been conducted on the effects of wind farms which found no strong connection between them and health effects.

“The Clean Energy Council recently commissioned a report that found noise standards across Australia are some of the toughest in the world,” she said.

“The council supports the view of Australia’s peak health and medical research advisory group, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) which states; ‘there is currently no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects.”