Time to stop listening to Front group’s junk science

media release 24 January 2012
Friends of the Earth

Time to stop listening to Front group’s junk science

Documents received under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to NSW Health cast doubt on the credentials of anti-wind farm campaigners who have been whipping up fears in communities around the country.

“Australia is now falling behind in the development of job-rich wind energy, largely due to the efforts of a small number of anti-wind farm activists who have waged a campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt,” said Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator.

The Waubra Foundation, a front group created by Landscape Guardian activists, and which has become the main organisation opposing wind energy on health issues, spent much of 2011 lobbying state health departments around the country.

Via an FOI request, Friends of the Earth (FoE) have uncovered a very critical assessment of the Waubra Foundation’s claims made to the NSW public health authority, NSW Health.

“The documents from NSW Health cast considerable doubts over the fear-based claims of the Waubra Foundation,” Mr Walker said.

“The assessment finds the claims of the anti-wind energy group to be of the ‘lowest category of scientific evidence’, and having major methodological flaws.”

“The NSW Health documents support our view that far from being a medical research group, the Waubra Foundation’s work is not based on good science. This is not surprising — the medical director is not a registered medical practitioner, qualified medical researcher nor epidemiologist. The majority of directors of the foundation are on record as objectors to proposed wind farms in their own back yards. And despite their claims that the Foundation maintains complete independence from advocacy groups, it shares a post office box with anti-wind group the Landscape Guardians.”

“The FOI documents also suggest that in their lobbying efforts, a Waubra Foundation representative misrepresented the position of the National Health and Medical Research Council (the NHRMC) on wind energy, casting further doubt over the organisation’s credibility.”

The recent CSIRO report into attitudes towards wind farms concluded that a vocal minority who oppose wind farms are more prominent in the media and attract more political attention than the overwhelming majority who support wind energy. This deep support for wind farms has been demonstrated most recently in polling released last week which had been commissioned by Pacific Hydro.

“Fear about health impacts of any technology plays on legitimate concerns people might hold about anything unfamiliar. Yet, as has been noted by a growing number of medical authorities around the world, there is no credible evidence of any causal link between turbines and ill health,” Mr Walker said.

“As noted in the CSIRO report, a small number of people make a lot of negative noise about wind energy, and these have been reported widely in the media. The reporting masks the widespread public support for wind energy and muddies the waters of public debate and good policy development.

“The Waubra Foundation was set up by a long term anti wind campaigner with financial interests in oil, gas, uranium and, recently, coal.

“This assessment by NSW Health should act as a warning to policy makers to be wary of fear-based campaigns run by vested interests. It’s time for the scare campaigns to end and for the fact that wind energy is one of the safest and cleanest forms of electricity generation to win out.

Further comment:

Cam Walker 0419 338 047
Please contact Cam Walker for copies of the documents received under FOI.

media related to this story

Science on wind turbine illness dubious, say experts. Sydney Morning Herald, 24/1/12

Climate alliance challenges wind farm claims. The Age, 24/1/12

Reports debunk wind turbine syndrome, Renew Economy 23/1/12

Friends of the Earth rally for wind energy, Melbourne, 29.9.2011

5 thoughts on “Time to stop listening to Front group’s junk science

    1. Maybe the WTS campaign is starting to crack under the weight of its own contradictions. I recall the anti-vaccination movement got some media coverage for a while after a shonky study purported that vaccinations were too dangerous, but they are so discredited that no-one reports them now. “Junk science” as Cam put it. The NSW and Vic ministers have not explicitly endorsed the Waubra Foundation’s propaganda, but perhaps we should see it as a kind of soft cop/hard cop routine?

      1. Yes, the Australian sceptics and a group called the SAVN (specially formed to counter the anti-vax propaganda) were instrumental in undermining the influence of the AVN that it’s head dictator/conspiracy theorist, Meryl Dorey had carefully cultivated in the Australian media. Now she is little more than a joke.

        Their techniques were essentially combating her claims every time she got on radio or in print with science, verifiable evidence, and careful, consistent explanation and some wonderful submissions to medical authorities in New South Wales and I think, federally.

        Maybe a similar exercise is needed by putting frequent and authoritative submissions to the press Council or whatever body is responsible for ensuring accurate journalism?

  1. It is so important to have specific information to refute false claims and innuendo of this type. Keep up the good work.

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