Abbott govt’s wind energy/health review unnecessary, a waste of taxpayer money

tony-abbott

The Abbott government has ignored all previous evidence on the matter to announce yet another review of wind energy and human health.

According to The Canberra Times, the Abbott government will pursue an ‘independent program’ investigating wind energy and health, even though a report by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)  has been completed and is awaiting ministerial sign off.

Is another review needed? Here are a few points to consider…

1. Independent studies already conclude wind energy is clean, safe

There’s already a wealth of independent knowledge on wind energy and health. There are now 19 reviews by credible health bodies which show wind farms are clean and safe.

In 2010, Australia’s authority on medical health research, the NHMRC, published a rapid review of wind energy and health. It concluded:

The health effects of many forms of renewable energy generation, such as wind farms, have not been assessed to the same extent as those from traditional sources. However, renewable energy generation is associated with few adverse health effects compared with the well documented health burdens of polluting forms of electricity generation.

There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines.

In May 2013, the Victorian Department of Health released a review on the subject, concluding:

There is no evidence that [wind turbine] sound which is at inaudible levels can have a physiological effect on the human body. This is the case for sound at any frequency, including infrasound.

(Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine’s decision to chip in $100,000 to fund the Abbott review suggests he doesn’t have confidence in the Victorian Department of Health.)

State planning bodies have joined these public health authorities with the assessment that wind energy is clean and safe. In 2013, the New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal dismissed wind energy/health scare claims when they approved the Bodangora and Cherry Tree Range wind farms.

Decisions in the real world are being made on the back of existing research. Planning bodies wouldn’t approve wind farms, nor would developers  build them if there was a risk to the public.

2. The NHMRC has a new report ready to go

The NHMRC has completed a review of wind energy and health. The review is reportedly sitting on the desks of Environment Minister Greg Hunt, and Energy Minister Ian MacFarlane.

Announcing a new review while keeping the NHMRC’s findings secret looks suspicious. The government will have to make the report public or it will once again face charges of secrecy and cover up. These charges have plagued Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ since taking office in September 2013. And they could spread to the energy and environment portfolios.

If the Abbott government sweeps the NHMRC report under the carpet, it’ll be on its way to a trend of secrecywhich is obviously a disadvantageous reputation for any government.

3. Abbott’s posturing on wind/health – favours for friends? 

The Abbott government’s announcement satisfies the wishes of the anti-wind farm Liberals who are ideologically opposed to renewable energy.

The Prime Minister’s hand-picked business advisor Maurice Newman is staunchly opposed to wind energy. Mr Newman has threatened to take legal action against farmers who install wind turbines near his rural property in Crookwell, NSW. Newman will well-known for tirades against wind farms; the popular Howard government policy, the Renewable Energy Target; and denying the science of climate change.

The links between Australia’s most active wind farm opposition group, the Waubra Foundation, has links to the Liberal party. Former Liberal politicians Michael Wooldridge and Alby Schultz hold positions at the organisation. The foundation has frequently argues for more research on the subject. And that is what the Abbott government is delivering.

Prime Minister Abbott’s posturing on wind energy looks like favours for friends.

4. Anti-wind strategy of doubt and delay

Anti-wind activists have a track record urging more research, while ignoring the 19 reviews who show wind energy is clean and safe.

High-calibre research conducted by the NHMRC and Victorian Department of Health costs hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the public purse. It also diverts limited public resources from investigating real public health issues.

Why waste more taxpayer money on another study when wind farm opponents have already made up their mind?

5. Australians have made up their minds on wind energy

All available public polling shows wind energy enjoys strong public support. Wind energy is the cheapest form of generation. It creates jobs and drought-proof income for farmers while addressing climate change.

Polling by Essential Research conducted in June 2013 shows massive 76 percent of Australians support building more wind farms. Wind energy is even highly popular among Coalition voters, with 71 percent supporting more wind farms.

It’s puzzling that a Prime Minister who has suffered a significant drop in support in the polls would stall the popular wind energy sector.

It’s in the interest of Prime Minister Abbott to pursue policies that reflect mainstream public opinion. Yes 2 Renewables urge the PM to listen to the Australian public, rather than kowtowing to radical fringe opinion.

Conclusion

The Abbott government’s decision to undertake another investigation into wind farms and health is unnecessary. It benefits Liberal party mates and anti-wind farm campaigners at the taxpayers’ expense.


Last year we tried to help Tony Abbott understand wind energy with a detailed look at the technology. In light of recent comments, here’s another go:

goodiesbaddiesabbott

41 thoughts on “Abbott govt’s wind energy/health review unnecessary, a waste of taxpayer money

  1. I believe that one of the reasons Howard was dispatched was his denialist stand on environmental matters.

    Subsequent governments were more attentive to climate and environment. That the Greens were pivotal to that end is doubtless correct. But the Greens paid a heavy price for their union with Labor and if they survive it may take some time to regain their cred with the nation.
    .
    Thinking about the pre-election stuff that saw the LNP sweep into power, I was not always comfortable with the “Direct Action” policy, but assumed it would have the same basic goals as the Labor policy. Unfortunately the Greens had largely lost their “alternative party” status leaving only the LNP to choose from.

    It is now clear that I was naive. Whilst I expected that Direct Action inferred a different approach, I had not considered (believed?) that it could also mean a reversal of pro-environmental policies. Sadly that seems the case.
    If the LNP has a plan/scheme/rationale that underpins and justifies their actions and apparent direction it really is time they shared it with the people they hold out to represent.

    Placing Maurice Newman with his recorded bias to head the latest inquiry is (almost) a comical case of letting the fox count the chickens, and is perhaps a sign of contempt for even-handedness. This is to me so inept that it chops heavily at my hope and confidence that this government would be better than the last.

    It is too early to allocate my vote in the next election. But the environment is a huge global issue and goes to the core of life on earth for all creatures. I will not vote for any party that denies such issues and fails to act in a positive way to solve such issues.

    Reading this comment I see that I have gone somewhat obliquely to Leigh’s article – my apologies for that. But the article served to break one of those little straws in my back that makes a person ready to change his mind about something.

  2. But you are neglecting something. The root cause of far-right conservatives (tony takes tea with them, and likes the cut of their jibs) is hatred of anything that is not them, and their close inner circle, or people bigger than them. While they hate it, they seek to control it if they cannot destroy it. When people advocate a less poisonous way to make a living, that does not involve centralised control of the means, then of course that must be decried, whittled down and destroyed, because it challenges their mantra of fear and loathing of people other than white-bread world, and hatred of life in general.

    If they can’t be seen to be so directly antagonistic to the beliefs of the general populace, and to impede their prospects for reelection, then they’ll just meretriciously prevaricate some more. Like this. Thereby leaving them free to poison some more of the world, with coal mining, petroleum, carcinogens, violence, profit-uber-alles, mental-illness-inducing ‘communities’ of hardiplank and concrete suburbia. All facilitated by us, the taxpayer. Swept up after with tokenistic, light-the-$100-note-and-retire bullshit such as ‘marriage counselling vouchers’ and ‘Direct Action’ phantasms.

    Poisonous hatred of life is propelled by a deep abiding fear of life. If you can’t control it, then you must destroy it. It’s enlightenment philosophy gone horribly wrong, and woven back into the medieval/far-right lunatic mantras of The Rapture and God’s Elect – a strange mix of Inquisitional flagellatory Jesuitism and brain-dead hucksterist Prosperity Theology.

    We know where he’s coming from, but how do we dip him in tar, cover him with feathers, and get rid of him?

    1. Gerard you are right. It is worth crying over that your taxes are being spent duplicating studies already completed.
      I’m guessing here too that you pressed “Enter” on your keyboard a little too soon eh?

      1. No Hendo, I didn’t if you guys just supported a fair buffer distance such as the 2km in place in Victoria we probably would need to have this discussion.

      2. As you can see, Gerard prefers arbitrary setbacks based on magical thinking rather than any objective assessment.

  3. Yes, I think “Prosperity Theology” has a lot to answer for. The need to change our profilgate ways to moderate climate change just doesn’t fit with this PT mindset, so they conclude the science of climate change must be wrong.

    1. Support Chris – what support?
      It seems none of our comments are really aligned with Leigh’s article and I guess I might have started that. The article is really about Abbott’s sorry stance on the environment with, in this article, a focus on wind as a renewable energy source. It’s not about the various rules some States are attaching to wind farm applications.

      Wind farms aside, do you (or you Gerard) see the LNP as a suitable guardian of the planet, ensuring a better future for our following generations?

    1. All I have ever asked for is a buffer distance. If you want to discuss science I can do that but it may be above your level Blair and then you’ll have to resort to your old tactics of name calling and bullying.

      1. Okay Gerard, explain the “science” behind a 2 km buffer? Don’t forget to provide some basic evidence.

      2. I’m still looking forward to your scientific evidence for a 2 km buffer Gerard? Is your silence due to your deficiency of evidence or, because you know it was nothing more than political expediency?

    2. Gerard I won’t bully or abuse you. I do have a different opinion about the effects of wind farms upon human health – I have formed the view that it is not injurious to humans. That view is based upon the many studies that have failed to find issues or have said outright there is no evidence.
      You might claim that the science is flawed. But it is certainly more robust and exhaustive than the science of those claiming for example, that infra sound is damaging at wind farm levels.

      Maybe there is a case for a minimum distance from a residence to a turbine. I don’t know if I would like one 200 metres from my home because I would feel a bit uncomfortable by its “presence”. But I don’t think I could claim say, a 2000 metre separation on those grounds and I would be flat out using health grounds as a reason for prohibition.

      1. I, personally would be bothered by shadow flicker and I know stress is not good for anybody’s health. I do know people that are greatly impacted by noise from turbines, perhaps they are hyper-sensitive (turbines less than 1km from their home) I could hear them from the distance but they didn’t bother me that much – but then again I didn’t have to live there. I also think that a 2km buffer provides an distance that reduces the aesthetic domination that 145m turbine can have on the landscape. Thank you for not name calling like Blair usually does.

      2. Exactly, 2000 m is a purely arbitrary and remarkably convenient distance much beloved by wind farm opponents, in part because it also has the magic ability to exclude most of the state from further development. The big reveal about Gerard’s double standard however is his silence on issues such as coal seam gas development, coal mine expansions which we know cause real harm to human health and the environment.

  4. Blair and his big reveals. Your arrogance and air of superiority again reveal your narcissistic personality disorder – you ought to get this checked! If you remember our past discussions Blair you would recall that I have also supported buffer distances from CSG and open cut mines, and I also think that should possibly be more than 2km in the case of open cut mines, but you would know that and you constantly deflect from the subject at hand. We are going to be reliant on coal generation in Victoria for a very time to come – unless we go nuclear and I know what I would prefer.

    1. Still waiting on your scientific evidence Gerard.

      Can you explain why you would be worried by shadow flicker when sheep, cattle and horses are untroubled by it?

      1. It took you few days to come up with that reply Blair. Perhaps you equate your intelligence level with sheep, cattle and horses and perhaps that is why you cannot understand intelligent humans having issues with wind turbines. You should move beyond Orwell’s Animal Farm in your reading.

      2. Horses are supposedly extremely flighty animals yet they exist quite happily in the proximity of turbines. I have even seen them standing in the shade cast by a turbine tower. Are you saying you are too precious and fragile to live with a turbine in your proximity? Most people are made to sterner stuff.

      3. Blair, your arguments are becoming more and more pathetic. Even with a couple of days think time. You’ve been horse whispering have you? You know for a fact that they are happy. I am not saying I am precious or fragile they are you words and I wish you wouldn’t verbal me. I am just saying I am more evolved and intelligent than a horse, cow or sheep. But if you want to equate yourself with four legged animals with tiny brains – go for it enjoy and munching on some hay.

      4. More evolved? By what criteria do you measure that insane comment?

        If you were as intelligent as you claim, you would see the obvious fallacies in your arguments, your myopic criticisms of wind energy, the lack of science supporting any meaningful proximity setback and the fact that every credible study to date has shown no link between wind turbines and ill-health.

        You are only pandering to the selfish and the shortsighted and those with vested interests in competing industries. Move on Gerard.

      5. Blair I can see it really is a waste of time trying to have a rational discussion with someone as irrational as you. Like any fundamentalist you are so convinced of your faith that everybody else must be wrong. I have always argued for a buffer distance on the basis of the imposition that a 145m tall rotating structure can have on the landscape and surrounding residents. I also think that it is possible that some people can have their health affected by noise, shadow flicker and blade glint. As I have pointed out before, that not all people get seasick but it is debilitating for those that do. You have a cheek calling me selfish – I guess you can recognise it because it’s a behaviour you yourself exhibit.

      6. Irrational, fundamentalist, faith, selfish… You are certainly big on labelling people Gerard. It must be to compensate for your lack of any objective evidence to support your claims.

        So you still haven’t got any science to back up the 2 km setback? You still haven’t got any explanation as to how people can live quite happily with turbines closer than 2 km?

        As for what you think, well you’re welcome to your opinions but it would be helpful if you actually lived near a wind farm or visited a number of them so you could actually see how benign they really are.

        Comparing seasickness to wind turbine syndrome highlights your lack of understanding. The reason why some people get seasick is well understood and, unlike the mythical WTS, it’s easy to make a direct physical link between motion and seasickness. There are no physical links between turbines and WTS. There is the nocebo effect however – inadvertently or deliberately promoted by people like yourself.

      7. So Gerard, still no scientific evidence to support your nonsensical 2 km buffer? Is that why you’re resorting to name calling and feeble attempts at demonising people?

  5. Don’t worry Gerard next he will tell us we can sleep in the paddock and eat grass like the sheep and cows.sorry we humans are a little more advanced than that now Blair we live in houses and eat sheep and cows and some eat horse but I prefer not to.That is why Blair holds his views he wants to take us back to the stone age or the days of sailing ships the wind didn’t work to well for them either Blair when the wind didn’t blow the ship stopped!!!!!and you say I need an education.You were on that ship of fools Blair.

  6. Ummm I am not a moderator so you can happily ignore me. But can I draw attention to the nature of this discussion and ask if you two have not lost the plot a tad?
    It is not a question of WHO is right it is about WHAT is right.

    And another thing: it takes tow to bullshit – one to say it, the other to listen. Lurking between the name-calling I sense passion and sense. Please don’t waste it on petty exchanges.

    1. Geoff, I supply the following link for your perusal, (You can look too Blair, although you probably lack the empathy to understand) the conclusions are interesting. I would like to say that my main personal support for a 2km (I prefer a 20x the height to blade tip as proposed by Perth and Kinross Council) is mainly based on the fact that turbines are currently 145m tall and growing and a structure that size has no place in a rural landscape in proximity to homes.

      http://docs.wind-watch.org/davis-noisepollutionfromturbines.pdf

      1. Gerard I looked at the article and tried to get through some of the references. As any kind of review it lacked balancing argument and it was pretty short on scientific methodology too. I could go on but even if there was some merit it is not well supported scientifically. The references were not very powerful either.

        One of the things a paper like this needs to do is go at least some way towards saying why the many peer-reviewed publications were/are wrong. And some of the opposing points of view are comprehensively studied and supported by very astute researchers. That means an anecdotal account, even if supported by strong people, does not carry a lot of cred unless it has science and research behind that proves something.

      2. As a scientist I know you can sway a paper with selective use of data as Michael E Mann did with his infamous Hockey Stick temperature graph which has been discredited because of its small sampling size and convenient erasing of the medieval warming. So science can’t always be relied on. The human story is also important and you cannot deny that a 145m tall rotating structure literally in your backyard is a massive imposition.

      3. Gerard You cannot have it both ways here. You offer me “ink” that seems to hold out as scientific, then you say that because Mann was wrong (he was not) that all science is untrustworthy. Does that include the science-based finding that the earth is round, not flat?

        About Mann and that famous hockey stick: I am very cautious offering Wikipedia as a reference but often it contains good references. Go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_stick_controversy and you will find a pretty extensive discussion about the Hockey stick and Mann. Here’s a small extract:

        “More than two dozen reconstructions, using various statistical methods and combinations of proxy records, have supported the broad consensus shown in the original 1998 hockey-stick graph,…”

        I do agree that a 145 metre towering structure can be daunting, but not as much as a tall building, of a bridge or even a large ship. I also agree that the human story is important and that should be considered. But the costs of fossil fuels will be heavily visited upon countless individuals not yet born. They deserve consideration too, they are part of the human story.

      4. Geoff, I just say that scientific findings can sometimes be predetermined or give you the results that you, want as McIntyre and McKitrick proved regarding the Hockey Stick graph. I don’t think hiding the decline or the use of 4 trees as proxies is fairdinkum science. I think this what is meant by Mikes Nature Trick. If you want wind turbines put them next to people that want them or on broad acre farms. The current laws in Victoria allow turbines within 2ks of homes by agreement. I can also say that I disagree with no-go zones.

  7. I just love the way Blair states EVERY CREDIBLE STUDY has shown.Willie wonker could do a study and say all is fine but when a study comes out saying there are ill effects all of a sudden it is not credible.That is why this debate is a waste of time.The same as vestas giving $1m to the greens at election time and anyone asking questions why must be funded by big oil.Whos in denial.Not Me

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