A doctor campaigning on the claimed health impacts of wind farms has called for a halt to construction of wind turbines within 10 kilometres of housing until independent research is conducted.
She said research was needed, particularly on the impact of infrasound – sound below the level of normal human hearing.
Dr Sarah Laurie, medical director at the Waubra Foundation, made the call in her submission to the inquiry by the Senate Community Affairs Committee into the social and economic impact of rural wind farms.
(The Waubra Foundation was formed to generate independent research on the health effects of wind farms, in response to reported problems associated with the Waubra wind farm near Ballarat, Victoria.)
The inquiry has received almost 900 submissions and become a battleground of competing views on the value of and need for wind farms and on health impacts.
Many submissions from landholders speak of negative health effects.
But other landholders, wind farm developers and “green” organisations have talked up the need for wind farms as alternatives to burning of fossil fuels in electricity generation, and some landholders hosting wind turbines have emphasised their benign nature and the importance of the guaranteed income they provide.
Dr Laurie told the committee numerous doctors around the world who had conducted studies on their patient populations had reported health problems since wind farms started operating near their homes.
“There is absolutely no doubt these turbines, particularly at some developments, are making nearby residents very sick, and that their symptoms worsen over time.”
“This is resulting in people abandoning their homes and farms, if they can afford to.”
Dr Laurie said the “strong hypothesis” among concerned doctors, acousticians, physiologists, physicists, psychologists and others around the world was that one of the mechanisms causing ill health was low frequency sound and infrasound.
She said episodes of sleep disturbance and waking in a panicked state were being experienced by people living up to 10 kilometres from existing wind developments in South Australia and NSW.
She said research was needed to measure infrasound concurrent with indices such as sleep and blood pressure in affected residents when turbines were operating, and to compare results when the turbines were not operating.
However, wind farm companies and others, including the Australian Psychological Society, have dismissed suggestions of negative health effects from wind farms.
The latter in its submission said the Senate committee should take into consideration the “robust evidence base” which suggested wind farms did not present any major health risk,
The APS said local opposition to wind farms could be understood in terms of “place protective action”, and recommended use of “psychological principles” to explain and promote the benefits of wind farms.
The NSW Government in its submission said the World Health organisation had concluded there was no reliable evidence that sounds beneath the hearing threshold produced physiological or psychological effects.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding