The future of two major wind farms on the Tableland could hinge on a report into the effects of the energy source on nearby residents.
The National Health and Medical Research Council is assessing dangers associated with wind farms following claims that noise generated by turbines is a threat to health.
Any decision the council reaches could have a significant impact on the development of wind farms around the country, not least on the Tableland.
Last week, Tablelands Regional councillors approved the construction of 17 turbines at Evelyn near Ravenshoe while another wind farm with 74 turbines is proposed for Mt Emerald near Walkamin.
Protesters claim wind farm noise damages people’s health, but the wind farm industry has pointed to a report last year from the NHMRC that there was no published scientific evidence that wind farms damaged people’s health after it conducted a “rapid review” of the current scientific literature.
Yesterday, the NHMRC held a scientific forum in Canberra attended by those who agree and disagree on whether there is a link between wind farms and health problems.
Information gleaned from the forum would help the NHMRC update its public statement.
The council said residents living close to wind farms had raised health concerns, termed “wind turbine syndrome.”
A Senate inquiry into the impacts of wind farms, including health issues, is under way.
Among those attending the forum was Portuguese biomedical engineer Prof Mariana Alves Pereira.
“Her findings are disturbing, and reinforce the concerns which a growing number of medical practitioners globally are expressing about the effect of this technology when sited inappropriately close to humans,” said anti-wind farm activist, Dr Sarah Laurie, director of the Waubra Foundation.
Another speaker was Prof Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health at Sydney University, who is highly critical of Dr Laurie who he says has not had her claims peer reviewed in research journals.
In a recent article, Prof Chapman pointed out that people who had wind turbines on their land – which they leased out for a handsome rental – never complained about noise, yet were the most exposed.
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