Concerned doctors and people living close to wind farms have slammed a report commissioned by the Clean Energy Council suggesting, in effect, that health impacts from wind farm noise are all in the mind.
The report by noise consultants, Sonus, concludes there is extensive evidence that noise from wind farms “developed and operated in accordance with the current guidelines and standards” will not have any direct adverse health effects.
It suggests any perceived health and stress impacts “may be exacerbated by rhetoric, fears and negative publicity”.
It also cites what it calls the “nocebo” effect (the opposite of the placebo effect) – “a worsening of mental or physical health based on fear or belief in adverse effects”.
But South Australian doctor and medical director of the Waubra Foundation, Dr Sarah Laurie, said the report lacked integrity for not admitting that some rural Australians were becoming very ill when they lived or worked adjacent to wind turbines.
(The foundation is a not-for-profit organisation committed to studying the health effects of wind turbines on rural communities).
“The reality for some neighbours of wind farms in Australia is that they become extremely unwell,” she said.
“Some have been forced to leave their family homes, farms and livelihoods as they can no longer work on their land.
“Others are unable to leave as their main asset is their house and land, which becomes unsaleable.”
Dr Laurie, who in October attended an international wind turbine health conference in Canada, said wind turbine syndrome was caused by sleep deprivation, which led to problems such as high blood pressure, headaches and depression.
She said many papers presented at the conference reinforced her position.
Spokesman for Friends of Crookwell, Humphrey Price Jones, said people affected by the wind farm near Crookwell were “not making it up or delusional”.
“They knew nothing of the health effects of being next to a turbine.
“They are not thinking I must be sick because I am supposed to be sick.”
The said the Clean Energy Council received about a quarter of its funding from the wind energy industry and the report was “disingenuous and dishonest”.
Crookwell farmer, Col Dooley, of “Rosedale”, said his sister, who lived on “Elm Grove” adjacent to the wind farm, with the nearest turbine only about 300 metres from the homestead, was badly affected by the rattle of the mechanism and the “whoosh” sounds of the turning blades.
“It nearly drives her mad,” he said.
He said the property would be close also to the Crookwell 2 project, which Union Fenosa was developing.
Ruth Corrigan, who lives with her husband, Rod, on a 26-hectare property near the Capital wind farm north of Bungendore, said the nearest turbines were within two kilometres of their house and resulted in “significant” noise, despite the developer, Infigen Energy, telling them they would not hear any noise.
“We hear them all the time when the wind is blowing the sound towards us, especially at night,” she said.
“It sounds a bit like an aircraft overhead, then you get the ‘whoomp’ ‘whoomp’.”
Mrs Corrigan said one family had already moved from the area because of the noise and others who remained were “quite seriously” affected.
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