Activists who claim that noise from the turbines on wind farms makes people sick are being challenged by new research done in Australia.
Head of medicine at Adelaide University, Professor Gary Wittert, carried out a detailed study of medical prescriptions dispensed to people living close to wind farms and those living further away from them.
Professor Wittert said he decided to carry out the study after claims by Dr Sarah Laurie, the medical director of the Waubra Foundation, that anecdotal evidence suggested people living close to wind farms were suffering headaches, high blood pressure and sleeplessness.
And he says his analysis of Public Benefit Scheme medical data did not show that people living near wind farms were taking more medication.
“There is no hint of any effect on a population basis for an increased use of sleeping pills or blood pressure or cardiovascular medications whatsoever,” he said.
The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, compared results of key health-related data for people who lived within a 10-kilometre radius of a wind farm and those living in an area more than 10km away.
In tonight’s Four Corners program, Professor Wittert tells reporter Andrew Fowler the study involved 10,000 people across four wind farm areas in Victoria and South Australia: Waubra; Yambuk; Snowtown; and Hallett Hill.
In tonight’s program several people explain how their lives have been changed forever because of the noise generated by wind turbines near their homes.
In one case a farmer with a long history in the Waubra district tells how the turbines have given him headaches that make him feel like the skin on his head is being stretched tight.
As a result of this he has decided to leave his farmhouse and move to a home in the town, where he says his health will not be affected.
But other medical experts have warned there is a danger people can attribute symptoms like headaches and sleeplessness to the turbines without any real proof.
Professor Wittert said the work was a “preliminary look” and the university would send the research for peer review “as soon as it’s fully analysed”.
Professor Wittert has given evidence in a court case on behalf of Acciona, a wind farm company, but he said his new research was independently funded.
Earlier this year a parliamentary committee handed down a recommendation that the National Health and Medical Research Council carry out further work on any possible link between turbine noise and sickness.
The chair of the committee, Senator Rachel Siewert, said the committee had found that there had been adverse health effects on people living close to wind farms, but the committee also found the outcomes were not necessarily associated with noise or vibrations that the wind turbines create when they are generating electricity.
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