Recent evidence confirms and strengthens my 2010 conclusions that wind turbine noise at the levels permitted by Australian regulations has unacceptable adverse effects on sleep and health.
The NHMRC statement on wind turbine noise and human health fails in its duty to “build a healthy Australia” and to protect the public health by; reversing the burden of proof, applying an inappropriately high burden of proof and failing to properly apply the precautionary principle. They have, instead, applied the “reactionary principle” (Kriebel 2007), which is clearly not in the public interest. Had they correctly applied the precautionary principle, then, even using their present analysis, they would have called for an immediate moratorium on the construction of new wind turbines within at least 1.5km of residences and immediate reductions in noise emissions from existing wind turbines sited within 1.5km of residences. Had they applied a reasonable burden of proof, they would have called for a construction moratorium and noise emission reductions for turbines sited within 10km of residences. In addition, they would have mandated research by independent experts with relevant expertise in acoustics, sleep medicine and other relevant clinical disciplines, funded by the wind industry, as an urgent matter for the protection of public health.
The “nocebo” hypothesis is falsified at many levels. There is overwhelming evidence that the adverse health effects complained of by wind turbine neighbours and reported in the many publications cited in this and my 2010 submission are caused by the noise emissions of wind turbines.
The Australian regulations on wind turbine noise are not fit for purpose. They take no account of relevant earlier research, excessive amplitude modulation and low frequency sound emissions and were formulated to favour the industry rather than the public health.
In November 2012, I was privileged to make a lengthy, detailed written submission to the Australian Senate Inquiry into Excessive Noise from Wind Farms and subsequently gave oral evidence on 13th November.
I concluded that: “… there is compelling evidence that wind turbine noise can and does disturb sleep and impair the health of those living too close and that current guidance is inadequate protection.”
I see no useful purpose in restating my previous evidence as it is in the public domain and available to the Committee. I shall, therefore, restrict my evidence to three principal areas:
1. New evidence since 2012
2. Commentary on the recent NHMRC statement on wind turbine noise and human health
3. Commentary on the “nocebo” hypothesis
Fourthly, I shall comment on the wind industry and its supporters as “Producers of Doubt”.
Christopher Hanning, BSc, MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, FRCA, MD
This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.
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