Waubra Wednesday #1: Locals tell their story about wind energy

Last week, independent filmmaker Neil Barrett released a short documentary presenting the views of people living near one of Australia’s largest wind farms, located in Waubra, Victoria.

The personal accounts Mr Barrett documents in The Way the Wind Blows demonstrates there is strong support for the wind farm within the Waubra community. The personal accounts tell a positive story and challenge the myths that have emerged about wind energy.

Farmer Rod Brennan neighbours the Waubra wind farm–living just 700 metres away from turbines. “We’re a stones throw away from the Waubra wind farm…”, Brennan says in the clip below, ” we have absolutely no trouble with them at all.” What else does Mr Brennan have to say about living near a wind farm?… Watch the video below to find out.  Continue reading “Waubra Wednesday #1: Locals tell their story about wind energy”

Pollie Watch: Where do Coalition MPs stand on wind farms?

windpowerssCrikey has conducted a survey of sitting Coalition MPs on the issue of wind energy. The news service has found just one pro-wind energy MP in the government’s ranks, Leichhardt’s Warren Entsch. Reporter Andrew Crook notes: “It seems like Entsch is to wind as Julie Bishop is to women among senior Coalition ranks.”

So what else did Crikey find? There are a few Coalition MPs ‘on the fence’, some who ‘show promise’, and several retired pro-wind energy Liberals:  Continue reading “Pollie Watch: Where do Coalition MPs stand on wind farms?”

The Conversation: Wind turbine syndrome – farm hosts tell very different story

Published by The Conversation. View the original article.

By Professor Simon Chapman, University of Sydney

9ry52qss-1379380105

People who host wind turbines on their properties and derive rental income from wind energy companies have important stories to tell about living alongside turbines, but they’ve largely been absent from the debate on wind farms and health. Australian filmmaker and researcher Neil Barrett is finally giving this critical group a voice in his new short film, The way the wind blows, released today.

In Barrett’s short film, 15 hosts and some of their neighbours from the central Victorian district near the town of Waubra tell what it’s like to live surrounded by large turbines.

Turbine hosts at Waubra earn A$8,000 a year for each turbine on their land. In the bush, the expression that wind farms can “drought-proof a farm” is common: a land owner with ten turbines can wake up each morning comfortable in the thought that a tough year with poor rain or bad frosts can be ridden out, thanks to income from wind generation.

All of Barrett’s interviewees say they can hear the turbines but none say they are bothered by them or suffer from any health problems they attribute to the turbines. If there is such a phenomenon as “wind turbine syndrome” it would seem it is a condition that, remarkably, can be prevented by the wonder drug called money.

Significantly, too, none of those interviewed say their contracts prevent them from speaking publicly about their experiences with hosting turbines, repudiating the mantra of wind farm opponents that suffering hosts are gagged from speaking out by evil wind companies. Continue reading “The Conversation: Wind turbine syndrome – farm hosts tell very different story”

Waubra locals set record straight on wind farm

WIND1_STORY_-_DEEP_HORIZONTAL_WIDE_F11671310_989459Those who have followed the rollout of wind energy in Australia would have heard of the quaint Victorian town of Waubra–the location of one of Australia’s largest wind farms. Producing enough clean electricity for 143,000 households, more than enough to power Ballarat, Waubra’s 128 wind turbines offset a massive 635,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year which would have been generated by burning coal in the LaTrobe Valley.

While the town should be known for its leadership role addressing climate change and repowering Australia with renewable energy, its name has been tarnished by anti-wind farm lobbyists.

In 2010, the Waubra Foundation was formed  by Peter Mitchell–a fossil fuel investor and wind farm opponent–and has unleashed a scare campaign about the alleged health risk of wind energy ever since. The organisation coopted the town’s name without consent of it residents. Unfortunately for locals, the town is linked to a so-called wind farm noise disease rather than its strong community and quality produce.

This all could be about the change.

Over a year in the making, independent filmmaker Neil Barrett has interviewed Waubra wind farmers, neighbours and locals to test the prevalence of negative views. Barratt has produced a short film entitled The Way The Wind Blows which counters the myths and gives locals a voice for the first time. The short film is a must view.  Continue reading “Waubra locals set record straight on wind farm”

Why new technology often attracts bad science

Published by Renew Economy. View original article.

peer_review_monster_flickr_Gideon_BurtonRecently, the New South Wales Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) approved Infigen Energy’s Bodangora Wind Farm development, southeast of Dubbo in NSW. The finding is a positive outcome – something the development team at Infigen Energy has worked on for four years.

In the past few years, community concerns have grown around the purported health impacts of wind energy. These fears have focused largely on wind farm infrasound – sound below a frequency of 20 hertz, and low-frequency sound, below 200 Hz. Organisations dedicated purely to propagating the theory that wind farms are responsible for an incredible range of symptoms (including “batteries on phones, cars, tractors, and cameras discharging very quickly”) focus on communities considering wind farm developments.

An article in the Daily Liberal, Wellington’s local newspaper, re-stated the claims of Waubra Foundation CEO Sarah Laurie, made at the PAC public meeting in Wellington, in July: Continue reading “Why new technology often attracts bad science”

The nocebo effect, and why it’s much more dangerous than wind turbines

Published by Renew Economy. View original article.

Group-Photo-72dpiAnti-wind energy activists have shifted the goal posts over the years, with aesthetic, birdlife, carbon abatement and even economic issues getting a run. But by far the most cutting attack has been around noise, and the supposed health impacts that result.

There is no question that wind turbines create sound, and that in some circumstances this sound can be heard at nearby residences. Rigorous noise standards are designed to give a reasonable level of protection against sleep disturbance, taking into account the location of turbines, the model, and existing background noise. This approach is not unusual, and similar standards are applied to a range of man-made noise sources, from pubs to freeways.

While this is good enough for most people, some still find the residual noise levels annoying. At this point, noise level alone isn’t a good predictor of annoyance — personality and existing attitudes tend to dominate. Those residents with a clear view of the turbines tend to find them more annoying, while those receiving an economic benefit are more tolerant . Compounding this, residents with negative-oriented personality traits tend to perceive turbine noise as being louder. At the extreme, I’m aware of at least two wind farms where complaints have been received about excruciating, intolerable levels of noise, only for the resident to be told that the wind farm was shut down at the time.

Continue reading “The nocebo effect, and why it’s much more dangerous than wind turbines”

Systematic review: A new guide to wind/health evidence

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 10.42.00 AMMike Barnard, the blogger with an unmatched ability to dismantle anti-wind energy spin, has reviewed 50 pieces of evidence often cited in the wind energy/health debate. Barnard has summarised, categorised, and ranked 50 papers to “assist interested laymen, journalists and others trying to understand the knotty problem of wind energy and its health impacts.”

The review is a useful aid when considering the evidence presented by both sides of the wind energy and health debate. As someone who has attended town hall meetings organised by anti-wind farm activists, community forums on wind farm proposals, and VCAT hearings, I know I’ll be taking a printed copy of Barnard’s review to events in the future.

Here’s a table summarising Barnard’s results: Continue reading “Systematic review: A new guide to wind/health evidence”

You being a man of science: Joshi on perception and wind farm sound

Published by Etwas Luft. View the original article.  

By Ketan Joshi,  Research and Communications Officer at Infigen Energy. These views are his own. 

On the night of May 28th, Greens MLC Mark Parnell pitched a tent directly underneath a wind turbine at Waterloo Wind Farm, and had a relatively peaceful night’s rest. Prior to his camping experience, Parnell was interviewed on ABC’s Breakfast Reloaded by Matthew Abraham and David Bevan:

Host: Mark Parnell, you being a man of science, why would you say that camping within 100 metres of the pole is going to give you an experience that people who live a kilometre away will experience?

The assertion that sound energy from a wind turbine will somehow be greater at a distance of one kilometre away and inside a house, compared to 100 metres away and inside a tent, is a good example of the homeopathic logic that characterises discourse around wind energy. Continue reading “You being a man of science: Joshi on perception and wind farm sound”

Attitude and Auralisation – The Virtualisation of Wind Farm Sound

Published by Etwas Luft. View the original article.

By Ketan Joshi,  Research and Communications Officer at Infigen Energy. These views are his own. 

If you’re looking for immediate confusion, the science of sound is a fantastic place to start. Some part of my brain seems to immediately shut down when confronted with the tricky task of trying to quantify the subjective experience of sound. It’s in this foggy field that most wind developers find themselves standing, when attempting to inform communities about the acoustic impact of wind turbines.

I was at Clean Energy Week last week, and I had a chance to experience a neat new tool developed by Arup, in conjunction with Hydro Tasmania, that seems to circumvent the need to communicate the complex (logarithms, what even are they) science of acoustic engineering.

On Thursday morning, I sat amongst six Genelec 8030A speakers, and one (beautiful) Genelec 7060B subwoofer, in front of a screen that displayed recorded video of a wind turbine (Genelec manufacture professional studio-grade speaker systems). The engineers had arrived much earlier the day before, and calibrated the device to account for the room. The speakers also cover most of the low-frequency range of wind farm sound as well – down to 40 hertz. Continue reading “Attitude and Auralisation – The Virtualisation of Wind Farm Sound”

Infrasound report: Wind turbine syndrome is everywhere and nowhere

Published by RenewEconomy. View the original article.

sawaki_youkai_4_large

When I was eight years old, I was on the verge of being eaten. Terrified, I buried myself underneath the blankets, and nervously listened to an unearthly howling directly outside my bedroom window. I realised soon that the noise I had heard was the wind passing through the eaves of my family’s aged London terrace house, a noise that had sounded eerily sentient. My fear was simply related to a lack of data – those few extra seconds of dogged listening eased my concerns. We are evolutionarily wired towards the sensation of threat – a sensation that is overridden by taking time to pause, and listen closely.

Objections to the installation of wind farms have, in the past four years, played on this aspect of our nature. Claims have arisen that inaudible, infrasonic noise emissions have a direct effect of human physiology, bypassing our conscious percept and wreaking biological devastation. For this hypothesis to hold true, two basic principles need to be demonstrated conclusively:

  • Infrasound emitted from wind farms has to be markedly higher in amplitude than infrasound produced by other sources;
  • This amplitude has to be causally linked to a direct and demonstrable pathological effect on human physiology.

The South Australian Environmental Protection Agency (SA EPA) recently took some time to investigate the first premise: that wind farm infrasound measures higher than that from other sources in the environment. If the premise were found to be true, then wind turbine syndrome might well be a reality. If it were found to be false, then it serves as firm evidence that ‘wind turbine syndrome’ is deeply improbable. Continue reading “Infrasound report: Wind turbine syndrome is everywhere and nowhere”