A Senate committee investigating the effects of wind farms on health has found some people living near turbines have suffered ill effects.
But the committee, which received more than 1,000 submissions, also says there is no conclusive link.
It handed down seven recommendations to the Federal Government, including commissioning more research and installing an independent arbitrator to deal with complaints.
Steve Coleman, a winemaker from Waubra in western Victoria, lives in the shadow of a wind farm and says the turbines produce several different noises.
“This doof-doof noise, usually we get that when the wind’s coming from the south-east because that’s the closest turbines to us,” he said.
“But the ones that are two kilometres away, we get this constant jet rumble, which is almost like a jet rumble-cum-washing machine situation. That doosha-doosha (sound).”
Many of the Senate submissions were about the impact of these noises on people’s quality of life.
Some doctors reported wind farms can produce an almost inaudible low frequency noise known as infrasound, which in turn contributes to what is known as wind turbine syndrome.
Symptoms include high blood pressure, headaches and depression.
West Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert chaired the inquiry and says some people giving evidence showed such signs.
“We have found there have been adverse health effects found in some people near wind farms,” she said.
“[But] I don’t want people running around saying that we have found that this is associated with some of the claims that are being made.
“We are saying there’s not enough information, but that people that are feeling possible adverse health effects, it could be related to other factors and we had a lot of evidence around stress associated with location of wind farms.”
Most of Australia’s wind farms are in Victoria.
Outgoing Senator Steve Fielding, who was also on the committee, says planning needs to address how close the residents are living to wind turbines.
But Mr Coleman says there is no legal requirement in Australia or New Zealand on what is called the “standard setback” – and that it is unfair.
“I’ve got no problem about it being built near a stakeholder because if they want the money then that’s fine,” he said.
“They’re getting paid to have the turbines, so a stakeholder, they’ve got the right to say yes, [they will] have one three feet from the back yard.
“But people in our situation who don’t get turbines or haven’t got a turbine are forced to put up with it because it’s still on the stakeholder’s land but our house sits on the boundaries.”
The Clean Energy Council, which represents wind farms, has welcomed the committee’s recommendations and says there is no reason to stop developing wind farms.
The Council’s Russell Marsh says the links to ill effects have not been proven and he believes there is only a small number of Australians who do not support wind farms.
“Whenever you ask the question there’s 80 or 90 per cent of the Australian population like or want to see both more renewable energy and more wind energy,” he said.
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