Noise Watch Australia Presentation to the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines, 10th June 2015
Sarah Laurie before the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines
Noise Watch Australia Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines, March 2015
Wind turbine study finds possible correlation between noise and residents' complaints, researcher says 21st January 2015, ABC News
Turbines may well blow an ill wind over locals, ‘first’ study shows January 2015, The Australian
Letter to Editor re: Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health article, below, 2014
Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health article on wind turbine effects 2014
How Does Wind Turbine Noise Affect People? An article from Accoustics Today 31/3/14
Deafening Silence Noise Watch Australia writes to Canberra Times 13/3/2014
Noise Watch Australia Inc submission to Wind Turbine Committee 10/2/2011
Senate Enquiry into Windfarms 13/5/2011
For more information on windfarms go to the http://waubrafoundation.org.au/ website.
§ Green groups hit out at hot air on windmills Adelaide Now 5/10/2012
§ NSW gets world's toughest wind farm rules Sydney Morning Herald, 23/12/2011
Any person living within a two-kilometre radius of a wind farm will have the right of veto. PEOPLE living within two kilometres of proposed wind farms will have the right to veto them, under a NSW government proposal.
Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard says NSW remains committed to being part of the Federal Government's 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, despite proposing what he has described as the world's toughest wind-farm guidelines. Under the proposal, a company wanting to set up a wind farm in an area where landowner consent has not been given will have to go to an independent regional planning panel if there is community opposition. ''That means 100 per cent of neighbours have to be happy within that two-kilometre zone,'' Mr Hazzard told reporters in Sydney. Mr Hazzard said he hoped the idea would find a balance between residents living near wind turbines and supporters of renewable energy. ''Today I am announcing that the NSW coalition government is putting out for public discussion some of the toughest wind-farm guidelines in the country, possibly the world,'' he said.
The Victorian coalition government this year gave residents within a two-kilometre radius a right of veto over wind turbines. But Mr Hazzard said the NSW proposal was different to Victoria's and that wind-farm proponents would get a bigger say.
People wishing to write submissions to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure have until March 14. Across NSW, there are 17 applications to build wind farms, including 13 that are yet to be shown to the public.
The NSW Greens said the proposal would kill off the wind-generation sector in favour of coal seam gas as a solution to the state's future energy needs. ''If this draft plan becomes law, the government has effectively chosen a destructive coal seam gas future for NSW, over the clean, green and jobs-rich wind-energy sector,'' Greens planning spokesman David Shoebridge said.
''NSW is abandoning the most cost-effective option for reducing its carbon footprint, which in effect means it is giving the green light for coal seam gas projects across the state.'' Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/energy-smart/nsw-gets-worlds-toughest-wind-farm-rules-20111223-1p826.html#ixzz1hLHtdjdo
§ NSW ministers "incompetent" on wind farms FROM AAP 19/12/2011
FEDERAL Liberal MP Alby Schultz says incompetent NSW government ministers who ignored his concerns about noisy wind farms have led him to campaign against his own party. NSW cabinet is meeting this week to consider guidelines that will determine the future of wind power in the state. About 20 applications for new farms have been put on hold while the government decides how to balance competing interests.
Mr Schultz, member for Hume in southern NSW, says he's gone against his own party because "somebody has got to stand up for their constituents"."My constituents came to me earlier in the piece because of the concerns that they had," Mr Schultz told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
"The more that I looked at this industry the more I was convinced that there was a serious issue.
"For eight months now I've tried to convince the premier and his ministers, some of whom are totally incompetent, that they should be looking at this issue."
A group opposed to plans for a wind farm in Flyers Creek, near Orange in the state's central west, says the farms will be breaching the NSW government's environmental legislation.
In a submission presented to NSW Planning on Monday, the group said the farms will cause excessive noise causing sleep loss, stress and other health problems.
The Shooters and Fishers Party agree. Shooters Party MP Robert Borsak says the government should halt the entire process. "We'd like the state government to at least have a detailed and proper inquiry into these planning laws," he told reporters in Sydney. "The Shooters and Fishers Party is against wind farms. We just don't think they're appropriate in our agricultural setting."
Asked if the party would use its balance of power in the upper house to campaign against wind farms, Mr Borsak said: "If we get a chance, we will."
But opposition environment spokesman Luke Foley wants the O'Farrell government to roll out the welcome mat for the wind industry. "There's $3 billion of investment opportunity for this state, if we're open for business," he told reporters in Sydney. "We know that large scale wind is the cheapest possible form of renewable energy. There's no credible health research that says there is any risk to people's health from wind turbines near them."
§ Farmers: 'Wind turbines made us sick' From: AAP July 25, 2011 9:00PM
FOR the prime minister, wind farms are the stars of Australia's clean energy future, but health problems from the turbine noise are forcing some neighbouring residents off the land.
At the opening of the Gunning Wind Farm in southern NSW last week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard championed the environmental benefits, job creation and economic benefits that would flow from getting on the wind power bandwagon. Currently, wind farms power two per cent of Australia's energy needs, and the government wants to increase it to 20 per cent by 2020 - or 3200 new wind turbines. At Gunning, Ms Gillard brushed off concerns about health risks and said she had not received any advice about their dangers. "I've stood underneath these wind turbines and they're remarkably quiet," she told reporters. But some residents in a small Victorian farming community are claiming the noise from nearby turbines has made them sick and subsequently forced them off the land.
Noel Dean and his family left their farm in Waubra, about 30km north of Ballarat, after experiencing constant headaches when turbines went up two kilometres away from their home.
"We're refugees in our own country, we're leaving here because of danger," he told ABC TV's Four Corners program today. He said his home sits in an amphitheatre - a bowl-shaped valley between two hills - which funnels the noise from the turbines towards his house.
His doctor diagnosed him with electromagnetic spasms in his skull.
Another Waubra resident, Carl Stepnell, had turbines 900m away from his home and experienced similar problems. "I started getting a sort of tingling in the head and headaches and then it just, you could feel it eventually getting worse and worse," he said. "(It's) like being in a cabin of a plane ... it's just the ear pressure and headaches and the nausea just in, the pressure in my ear - it didn't go away." He moved his family to Ballarat to escape.
Electrical engineer Graeme Hood from the University of Ballarat used audio equipment to check sound levels near the turbines. He said although the turbines don't sound very loud, they're actually producing sound at a frequency too low to hear. "The brain thinks it's quiet, but the ears may be telling you something else or the body may be telling you something else, it's much louder," he said.
Anti-wind farm campaigner Dr Sarah Laurie said people within a 10km radius of turbines could be at risk of health problems such as elevated blood pressure and headaches. But University of Adelaide professor Gary Wittert, who has conducted one of the first independent studies into wind farm health issues, denies there's any link. He used data from the the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to compare medical prescriptions of people living in areas with and without turbines.
His study involved 12,000 people living within a 10km radius around wind farms in South Australia and Victoria. "There is no hint of any effect on a population basis for an increased use of sleeping pills or blood pressure or cardiovascular medications whatsoever," he said.
Last month, a Senate inquiry into the health affects of wind farms called for more scientific investigations.
§ Blow for wind farms as senators push probe into noise and health fears. Graham Lloyd, Environment editor, The Australian June 24, 2011 12:00AM
South Australian farmer Dean West, with Floss, lives in the shadow of the Starfish Hill wind farm at Cape Jervis. URGENT research should be undertaken into the potentially damaging health effects of wind farms on nearby residents, says a landmark Senate report released yesterday.
In a dramatic win for residents' groups who have raised widespread concerns about the impact of wind farms on rural communities, the committee recommended that noise measurements be expanded to include low-frequency noise, or infrasound. Campaigners welcomed the report and said there should be an immediate halt to wind farm developments until the potential health impacts were better understood.
According to the Clean Energy Council, there are 53 wind farms operating in Australia, with 1089 operating turbines that can reach the height of a 45-storey building and have blades up to 50m long. Wind turbine capacity has increased by 30 per cent a year over the past decade and wind now supplies about 2 per cent of Australia's electricity needs. There are more than 9000 megawatts of large-scale wind farm energy projects proposed around the country, propelled partly by the federal government's Renewable Energy Target scheme, which subsidises power from renewable sources.
The majority Senate report yesterday called for tougher rules on noise, new rules to govern how close wind farms can be built to houses, and an independent arbitrator to hear complaints.
It said arbitrary setbacks - the distance that a wind farm must be built from a residence - may not be adequate and each situation may need to be considered on its merits. But the most dramatic findings were in the area of potential harm from low-frequency noise. The committee said the commonwealth government should initiate as a matter of priority "thorough, adequately resourced epidemiological and laboratory studies of the possible effects of wind farms on human health".
"This research must engage across industry and community, and include an advisory process representing the range of interests and concerns," the committee said. It said a National Health and Medical Research Council review of research should continue, with regular publication.
The committee recommended that the National Acoustics Laboratories conduct a study and assessment of noise impacts of wind farms, including the impacts of infrasound.
It said the draft National Wind Farm Development Guidelines should be redrafted to include discussion of any adverse health effects.
The Senate inquiry was initiated by Family First senator Steve Fielding and attracted more then 1000 submissions both for and against wind farm developments. The inquiry was chaired by Greens senator Rachel Siewert and included Labor senators Claire Moore and Carol Brown and Liberal senators Judith Adams, Sue Boyce and Helen Coonan.
Sarah Laurie, medical director of the Waubra Foundation, a national organisation set up to raise awareness of the health effects of wind farms, said an immediate moratorium should be called for wind farm developments. "Given the Senate recommendations and strength of evidence to the inquiry, the precautionary principle should be adopted," Dr Laurie said. She said the report's recommendations were exactly what concerned health professionals had called for. "Investigation of low-frequency noise, or infrasound, had not been properly conducted anywhere else in the world," Dr Laurie said.
The Senate committee was told that Denmark had flagged regulation of infrasound at wind farms and that Japan last year started a four-year study into the effects of infrasound from wind farms.
Sheep farmer Dean West and his partner Geri McHugh live in the shadow of the Starfish Hill Wind Farm at Delamere, 100km south of Adelaide, and often hear the turbines on a windy day.
Mr West, whose sheep wander the paddocks under the 100m-high turbines, is in the paddocks daily, but has no concerns for his health. "I can't see that more studies would do any harm, though," Mr West said. The couple moved to the farm 10 years ago, at the same time as the 23 turbines were being built on the grazing land. The closest tower is 500m away. Although they do not think they suffer because of the turbines, Ms McHugh has tinnitus and is sensitive to the turbine noise. "It's just a woof, woof, woof sound, you just can't tune out," Ms McHugh said.
Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh said the renewable energy industry believed the Senate inquiry report was a balanced review of issues. "It acknowledges the important contribution that wind energy makes to employment and economic development," Mr Marsh said. "There is no reason to slow the development of new wind farms based on this report."
§ Wind turbines bad for health: US doctor. Graham Lloyd, Environment editor, The Australian March 10, 2011 12:00AM
THE American doctor who pioneered controversial research into the health effects of living near wind turbines will be the first witness at a Senate inquiry into the issue. Nina Pierpont, who uses the term Wind Turbine Syndrome, will appear by teleconference from the US to be questioned over her submission to the inquiry when public hearings open in Canberra on March 25. Dr Pierpont argues the clinical evidence is unambiguous that low frequency noise and "infrasound" from wind turbines disturbs the body's organs of balance, motion and position sense. "Case studies performed by me and other medical scientists have demonstrated unequivocally that many people living within two kilometres are made seriously ill, often to the point of abandoning their homes," Dr Pierpont says. Her work has been both widely lauded and criticised. It has been described by the Australian-born chief scientific adviser to the British government, Robert May, as "impressive, interesting and important".
In its submission to the inquiry, the CSIRO said it had conducted a review of press reports and that the documented high levels of societal resistance to wind farm development were based on negative perceptions of health, financial and legislative aspects. "There is currently no evidence positively linking noise impacts with adverse health effects, the majority of property sales do not show any reductions in value after wind farm installation, and planning processes that are transparent and participatory from an early stage of planning result in greater acceptance of wind farms," it said.
§ Adelaide Court rules in favour of AGL The Advertiser 7/12/2010
The landmark judgment that could set the precedent for community litigation against wind farm developments in South Australia has been hailed by developers and disappointed anti-wind farm campaigners. Handing down its judgment on the state's first case of this kind, the Environment, Resources and Development Court cleared the way for the proposed $180 million wind farm.
"The decision of the Council to grant development plan consent will be confirmed, subject to some minor variations to the conditions imposed," the judgment by Judge Susanne Cole, Commissioner Terry Mosel and Commissioner John Agnew said.
Some Mt Bryan residents had appealed against the 33-wind turbine project, citing visual amenity and noise concerns. The court accepted evidence that the wind farm will "comply sufficiently" with relevant noise standards and said it was up to regulatory bodies generating the policies and standards to look at raising them. "Views of the landscape will not be obstructed by the turbines, but they will form a new element in the landscape," the court said. A second appeal is ongoing in the ERD court against Acciona's $175 million Allendale East wind farm.
A source close to the Mt Bryan case, who did not want to be named, said the judgment changes the dynamics and sets a precedent for other cases that are sure to follow. "As a consequence of this decision, opponents to such projects around South Australia can now see that the demand for renewable energy outweighs any community concerns," he said.
An AGL spokesperson said: "The judgement sets an important precedent for the industry by reinforcing the applicability of established development processes". "The appeal has caused some delay to the progress of the development of the wind farm, but we are pleased that we can now continue to move forward." AGL has Hallett 1 and Hallett 2 wind farms already operational in the region, and is currently also constructing Hallett 4 and Hallett 5.
The appellants are considering the merits of taking their appeal to the Supreme Court. Dr Sarah Laurie, medical director of the Waubra Foundation, which is studying the health effects of wind turbines on rural communities, was disappointed with the decision. "There is growing evidence of rural Australians living near wind farms becoming very ill due to chronic sleep deprivation related to noise from the wind turbines. I am concerned that the current process is greatly biased towards the developers, who have significant financial resources."
§ Letter to editor BRW 27/11/2010 (Regarding BRW article - see next entry.)
I refer to the article entitled “$1 billion in the wind” in the BRW November 18th.
It is a one-sided assessment of the costs of (Victorian) Liberals proposal to require wind farms to be located more than at least 2km from residences. No mention is made of the reasons for the proposal. Perhaps the Liberals understand the environmental impact of loud, low frequency noise emitted by wind farms and the extra costs due to the significant health impact of low frequency noise are a significant offsetting penalty? Maybe they also want to minimise the stress and cost of litigation to all involved? What about the possibility of people being driven to take matters into their own hands in desperation, for example, by sabotage, resulting in further social and financial costs? Without the sort of action proposed it’s possible for much of the supposed $1 billion benefit to blow away in the wind.
Low frequency noise issues are starting to attract the political interest that they deserve, with Victorian police just this year introducing dedicated man-power to “Operation Pipedown”, to crack down on deliberately modified exhaust pipes emitting significant, unnecessary, low frequency noise, which again has a significant health cost. I look forward to political parties in other states following these examples.
(Mr) Sacha Skawronski
§ $1 billion in the wind Business Review Weekly 18/11/2010
Victoria is set to lose up to $1 billion in renewable energy investment and 650 jobs annually if it adopts the policies outlined by the leader of the Liberal opposition party, Ted Baillieu. The measures, announced in May, require that wind turbines be sited at least two kilometres away from existing residences or farms. They also require compensation for adjacent landholders.
Research carried out by Carbon Market Economics says that the Victorian Opposition policy would be severely detrimental to the state’s capacity to attract wind farm investment. “The Victorian Opposition policy is likely to result in less investment, fewer jobs in wind farm development,” the report states. “A survey of relevant CEC members found that between 50 and 70 per cent of currently proposed wind farms in Victoria would not be developed if this policy were pursued.”
Matthew Warren, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, which commissioned the report, says Victoria has a number of attractive locations for wind farm developments because of its location in the middle of the electricity grid. But he says the neighbouring states of NSW and Tasmania have ample sites that could take up the slack. “The state governments have been very supportive of the clean energy industry and have all taken measures to attract investment,” he says.
Victorians will go to the polls on November 27.
§ Turbine health effects are blowing in the wind, Graham Lloyd, Environment editor From: The Australian June 15, 2011 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/turbine-health-effects-are-blowing-in-the-wind/story-fn59niix-1226075277052
Ruth Corrigan near her property in Tarago surrounded by Capital Wind Farm. She says noise from the wind farm developments frequently disturbs her sleep. SOME people consider them unsightly. Others consider them uneconomical. And some are just frightened about what wind farms might be doing to their health. As the debate about the health effects of wind energy intensifies, dividing many rural communities where the turbines stand, those hoping for clarity from a Senate committee looking at the issue will be sorely disappointed.
The inquiry is split, and missed its already extended deadline to table its report to parliament yesterday. It received more than 1000 submissions both for and against wind-farm developments, and held five days of public hearings. The report is expected to be tabled next week but it appears unlikely a unanimous position will be reached. Experts are divided about the impact of the giant turbines on health. Concerns include sleep deprivation from the noise of the turbines and the potential effect of low-frequency noise, known as infrasound.
The National Health and Medical Research Council has found "there was no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with health effects".
But medical expert Max Whisson, who had a career in fundamental medical research related to the nature of cancer and the control of the development of tissues, believes the world is "likely to face a very serious plethora of fatal diseases as a result of current wind farm operation". "We have all been disastrously misled by focusing on noise," Dr Whisson said. "This has led laboratories around the world to completely miss the catastrophic effects of lower frequency vibration."
Ruth Corrigan is worried about the health effects. She lives near Capital Wind Farm near Bungendore, a 67-turbine facility just outside of Canberra, and says noise from the wind farm developments that surround her property frequently disturbs her sleep. When Infigen Energy showcases its Capital Wind Farm near Bungendore to the public today, as part of international wind energy day, Ms Corrigan will open her house to show the impact wind turbines have on rural communities living in their shadow. Ms Corrigan said she could see 17 turbines to the northwest and another 17 to the southwest from her property, the closest of which was about 2km away. A further 22 turbines had been erected in the past few days and Ms Corrigan said dealing with the companies involved had been difficult. "They have put noise monitoring equipment into the paddock but we have not been able to get any data from them," Ms Corrigan said. She wants the Senate inquiry to order further research into the health effects. "A number of people have a multitude of problems," she says. "The planning process also needs a big shake-up."
The National Health and Medical Research Council, meanwhile, has confirmed it is updating its controversial "rapid review" of the health impacts of wind farm developments, which found "there was no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects". The council last week conducted a scientific forum which heard a range of views from local and international experts. A spokesman for the council said that the update would review any new evidence and take account of concerns expressed during the forum by members of the public.
The revised public statement will be discussed by the council in October. NHMRC adviser Simon Chapman has likened concern about wind turbines to the hysteria that accompanied the introduction of other new technologies such as the telephone.
The Productivity Commission has recently taken aim at the subsidies that renewables, including wind energy, attract, saying they were a less cost-effective means of cutting carbon emissions than a market-based scheme.
§ Sick residents claim wind farm 'torture' ABCnet 27/5/2010
A SMALL group of wind farm opponents has mounted a protest on the steps of the Victorian Parliament, complaining of health problems caused by turbines. The Waubra residents say the 128-turbine wind farm in their community causes sleep deprivation, headaches, high blood pressure and heart palpitations. They formed a small rally on the steps of Parliament a week after the opposition announced its election policy for greater controls of wind farms.
Donald Thomas, 51, lives on a farm at Evansford about 3.5km from the nearest turbine in Waubra. "We welcomed the wind farm when it came, thought it was a great thing for the area," he said. "Having lived there for 12 months I see them now as nothing more than instruments of torture." Mr Thomas said he suffers headaches, heart palpitations and high blood pressure. His parents, who live within 1km of the turbines, have the same symptoms and also suffer from sleep deprivation.
Mr Thomas has neighbours who have moved out or go elsewhere to sleep. He wants the turbines turned off at night or shut down. "When the turbines don't go the symptoms go away. Simple as that," he said.
Noel Dean left his Waubra farm on advice from three medical practitioners. He said the turbulence they emit creates havoc on the human body and his symptoms still persist.
Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu last week pledged to ban wind farms from being built within 2km of homes and in growth corridors, national parks and tourist zones. The government and industry have rejected the policy, which they say will kill the wind energy industry in Victoria. Mr Baillieu said the opposition supports wind farms and the policy is about restoring balance between wind farm proponents and local communities. Poor siting of turbines had divided communities and destroyed lives, he said. "Our general proposition has been for a number of years that wind farms shouldn't go in sensitive landscapes and they shouldn't go where communities don't want them."
§ Wind farm approval blows town apart. Sydney Morning Herald April 5, 2010
Disruption ... Philip Evans and his daughter Molly, 10, are among the families affected by the redevelopment. Glen Innes residents find they are being forced to take sides, writes Debra Jopson in the final part of a Herald series. The 26-turbine wind farm that was the first to be approved in NSW's six newly created ''wind precincts'' has sparked legal action against the government, led one family to flee to Queensland and driven a wedge between once-friendly neighbours. ''We are small fry. But wind farm towers are huge,'' said Suzanne McAlary, who was so upset when the Premier, Kristina Keneally, approved the Glen Innes wind farm as planning minister last year that she and her husband packed up their home of 20 years and moved their reluctant 14-year-old son to Cairns.
The approval of turbines on the hilltops above their property 12 kilometres west of Glen Innes means New England has lost a doctor, Ms McAlary said. Her husband, Ashley Peake, is a GP who provided locum relief. ''I'm really angry about it … It's not easy relocating, moving children to different schools and jobs,'' she said. ''All we want is a two-kilometre setback. We know we all have to do our bit for climate change and the environment, and it is something we have to live with and make our contribution, but it has to be done in the correct manner.'' Hers is one of three families together challenging Ms Keneally's decision in the NSW Land and Environment Court. Their neighbours, who do not live on the properties where turbines will be erected, will be paid. They will not.
Mary Anne and Philip Evans fear the four turbines to be built 1.05-1.2 kilometres from their dream home will be noisy. ''Hitler used to use low-level noise as a torture,'' Mr Evans said. ''That's what wind farms are.'' They are up against the state government and Infigen Energy, a $1.2 billion multinational with interests in 41 wind farms in Australia, the United States, Germany and France. Mr Evans is a wool and sheep agent; his wife a teacher. ''Every day we see the [people] who are about to ruin our lives. We see them on the trip to town, we see them at our daughter's school and we see them at sporting and social events,'' the couple wrote to a parliamentary inquiry. ''This is not Sydney, where you can avoid people who are destroying everything you have worked for. This is Glen Innes. A small town made up of community-minded people who are now forced to take sides.'' Mrs Evans has been scathing about the wind farm company's behaviour. ''The split of the community has been enormous. The secretive nature of these companies is an attempt to divide and conquer the community,'' she said.
The local state MP, Richard Torbay, said the development was an example of ''ad hocery'' with no proper process and a lack of transparency. ''It's become like a sharemarket, but the rules and regulations have not been developed. This trading is going on behind the scenes like speculative shares. The government would have been better to put protocols in place,'' he said.
An Infigen spokeswoman, Rosalie Duff, declined to comment because the matter was before the court.
The chairman of the Glen Innes Wind Farm Group representing the owners of the properties to be developed, Rob Dulhunty, would also not comment.