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Health concerns fuel wind debate  

Credit:  By Tash Impey (Cross Media Reporter), ABC South East SA, www.abc.net.au 24 June 2011 ~~

Health concerns continue to be raised following the landmark ruling opposing the development of a wind farm near Mount Gambier. Despite courts ruling against the project on grounds of visual amenity the decision has been used as a platform to highlight the effects wind turbines can have on health.

Health concerns continue to be raised following the landmark ruling opposing the development of a wind farm near Mount Gambier. Despite courts ruling against the project on grounds of visual amenity the decision has been used as a platform to highlight the effects wind turbines can have on health.

Doctor Sarah Laurie has been at the forefront of a battle to have these concerns heard since heading the role as Medical Director of the Waubra Foundation.

Waubra is an organisation dedicated to looking at the health effects of wind farms and Dr Laurie is confident progress has been made since it was founded last year.

“The warning bells are ringing. We really need to get on and collect this data and do primary research and find out what’s going on,” she said.

Following recommendations from a Senate inquiry that research involving infrasound and low frequency sound was to be initiated, Dr Laurie was pleased with the development.

“It’s a wonderful thing what the Senate has done to recognise the urgent need for research.

“This has not happened anywhere else in the world.

“Some people are certainly experiencing symptoms in conjunction with operating turbines,” she said.

Working with international researchers, Dr Laurie has collected primary data outlining the adverse effect wind farms can have on health.

“Referenced studies in Europe have found that the sound of wind turbines are ‘uniquely disturbing’,” she said.

Symptoms Dr Laurie outlined were high blood pressure, nausea, insomnia, psychiatric distress and severe headaches as told to her by residents living in close proximity to wind farms.

Although she has heard cases of residents abandoning their homes as a consequence of symptoms the findings have not yet been substantiated before the courts.

“At the moment evidence that will be accepted in the court is thin on the ground.

“Scientific truth is not established in the court room, scientific truth is established by research,” she said.

As research continues, residents of the South East have remained divided on the issue.

Colin from nearby Lake Bonnie who has wind turbines on his property said he never hears any loud sounds while Lorraine said the sounds disrupt her sleep.

While South Australia has marked itself as a major player in wind renewable energy, Premier Mike Rann feared this case could affect that reputation.

He told Parliament of his concern about the appeal being upheld based on the farm’s adverse visual impact.

“This decision potentially contributes to uncertainty within communities and among wind investors,” he said.

“A large part of our success in building an international reputation for hosting wind investment has been our commitment to making the regulatory environment as certain as possible.”

Acciona Energy is yet to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court for the development of 46-wind turbines in Allendale East near Mount Gambier.

Source:  By Tash Impey (Cross Media Reporter), ABC South East SA, www.abc.net.au 24 June 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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