A general practitioner has backed an Allendale East farmer in his bid to stop Acciona Energy from developing a $175m wind farm near his property by calling on wind farm developers to temporarily halt projects until proper research has been conducted.
Dairy farmer Richard Paltridge’s appeal against Acciona’s 46-turbine development will be heard in the Environment Resources and Development (ERD) Court in Adelaide on Monday after an ERD Court Conciliation Conference in Mount Gambier in June failed to achieve a compromise agreement.
Mr Paltridge objects to the humming noise associated with wind turbines, the flashing lights on turbine towers and the obstruction of views.
Dr Sarah Laurie, who lives in Beetaloo Valley in the state’s mid north, has urged wind farm developers to halt projects within 10km of residential properties after complaints have surfaced from people who live near turbines.
Dr Laurie, who is the medical director of the Waubra Foundation a not for profit national organisation advocating for independent acoustic medical research into the health effects of turbines has called on the federal and state governments to fund research.
“We are extremely concerned about climate change and very much in favour of wind energy developments, but we are also concerned that people’s health may be adversely affected when they live too close to these turbines,” she said.
After visiting the Allendale East area and inspecting the plans for the proposed wind farm, Dr Laurie said the close proximity of the turbines to Mr Paltridge’s house and the Allendale East Primary School was a major health concern.
It is understood Acciona proposed to construct a turbine 605 metres from Mr Paltridge’s house and another tower 800 metres from his dairy, while the nearest turbine to the school will be within 2km.
Dr Laurie said many people who live near turbines had documented adverse health effects.
At least three residents who live within 3km of turbines in Mount Bryan have stated in affidavits that the constant, repetitive sound of the turbines have affected both their health and quality of life.
“At times, the level of irritation is comparable to hearing finger nails scratching on a black board, or a shovel dragged over a cement floor,” a resident stated in an affidavit.
Residents also complained about restless sleep, that their children wetted their beds up to five nights a week and about a “ringing sensation” in their ears.
Dr Laurie said she had interviewed many people who lived near wind farms and found their concerns alarming.
“The most common complaints are about chronic sleep disturbances due to the whoosh and high pitch sound, which is especially irritating at night in quiet country areas,” she said.
“Other problems are sleep depravation, which lead to a multitude of other health effects, including heart disease, hypertension, depression and psychiatric disorders.”
Dr Laurie said the Waubra Foundation would soon approach wind farm developers to contribute to funding to research.
“We need to do studies urgently and find out what a safe distance is, what the health issues are and how many people are affected,” she said.
“But until then we want energy companies to halt the construction of wind farms within 10km of homes.
“We have acousticians ready to research the effects of audible and infra sound on humans, but their equipment is expensive and we need money to start the research by December 1.
“Drug companies contribute financially to research before their products are released to the public why can’t wind farm developers also do it, it could be to their own benefit?”
However, a spokesman for Acciona Energy insisted that “wind farms are a safe source of renewable energy for Australia, within existing planning guidelines”.
“Australia’s leading government-based independent medical research body, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), released a thorough review of relevant scientific literature in June 2010, Wind Turbines and Health,” the spokesman told The Border Watch.
“The review found that there are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines.”
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