Local resident’s appeal upheld in South Australian Supreme Court: AGL’s “Hallett 2” wind turbines noncompliant with EPA noise guidelines
16 out of 34 turbines currently turned off overnight by AGL.
The appeal by Mt Bryan resident Bill Quinn has been upheld in the South Australian Supreme Court, against the ERD (Environment, Resources & Development) Court decision last year to approve AGL’s Hallett Stage 3 Wind Development. However, there was no determination of the merits of any of the grounds of appeal.
Amongst these grounds of appeal was a challenge to the EPA SA Wind Farm Noise Guidelines, and specifically whether their limits take proper account of the impact on residents from the wind turbine noise. In other words, the appeal is questioning the ability of the guidelines, as they are currently, to adequately protect human health.
Barrister Peter Quinn, has stated:
“These questions are of general significance for all Australian states currently applying SA EPA wind policies and guidelines which are in similar terms to the SA EPA’s 2009 guidelines for wind developments. This is extremely relevant for any matter in ANY planning jurisdiction which is seeking to apply the SA EPA wind farm noise guidelines (eg NSW, WA and SA). The court or planning authority should be advised that the adequacy of these guidelines is currently before the court in South Australia for determination, and that those matters should therefore be held over in abeyance until this particular matter is determined.”
The appeal in this case was allowed because evidence came to light that wind turbines owned by AGL, and operating at Hallett 2 Wind Development, are currently incapable of satisfying the current SA EPA Guidelines. This evidence of “tonality” in the S88 turbines had been known to the manufacturers Suzlon, who found “tonality” in the same type of turbines in March 2007 at Hallett 1. Despite prior knowledge of tonality, this information did not come to light in the initial court case in the ERD court in 2010. The determination of that question has been remitted back to the ERD Court.
Relevant to this is the fact that in the last week, AGL have shut down 16 of its 34 turbines at Hallett Stage 2, between 7pm and 7am.
Predictably, the residents of the surrounding area including the township of Mt Bryan have reported some excellent sleeps in the past week since these turbines have been shut off. They have previously been publicly vilified and labelled as serial complainers and worse.
The inevitable consequence of placing large industrial scale wind turbines too close to rural residents in areas with quiet background noise is going to be disturbed sleep from the audible noise emissions alone. The presence of “tonality” to the noise, as in this case, is going to increase the annoyance factor of that noise, and therefore result in more frequent episodes of disturbed sleep amongst the neighbours.
It is well established by an extensive body of peer-reviewed published medical research that chronically severely disturbed sleep, regardless of the cause, results in multiple serious adverse health consequences. This is regardless of any other possible causative mechanisms responsible for the range of additional symptoms, some extremely serious, described as “wind turbine syndrome”, which have been reported by medical practitioners globally over the past 8 years. These symptoms have been reported in some residents, workers and visitors in conjunction with operating wind turbines, out to a distance of at least 10km under certain weather and wind conditions.
Over 20 families in Australia have already left their homes & farms because of ill health. Some, like Trish Godfrey, were bought out and gagged by the wind developers, so they cannot talk about their health problems publicly, unless they are subpoenaed to give evidence in court.
Others have just walked away from their homes.
Landowners hosting turbines also get symptoms, their families become unwell too.
When are state planning authorities in Australia going adopt a precautionary approach, as the National Health and Medical Research Council’s CEO Professor Warwick Anderson has suggested, both in the NHMRC’s public statement and in his oral evidence to the Senate Inquiry into Rural Wind Farms? The Waubra Foundation currently recommends a 10km precautionary setback distance, until the proper research is completed, as this is the limit where highly specific symptoms correlating unmistakably with turbine operation are being reported.
When are the relevant authorities (EPA, Planning, Health, Local Council) going to properly investigate the frequent complaints of serious illness and intolerable noise and vibration made by residents across Australia in the vicinity of large operating wind turbines?
When are the 7 recommendations of the Federal Senate Inquiry into Rural Wind Farms going to be implemented?
Fraudulent ongoing denial of the adverse health problems occurring by ALL those responsible for SITING decisions is indefensible, given the mounting evidence internationally, and the recent finding in a court in Ontario, as follows:
This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.” (p. 207) (Emphasis added)
[Environmental Review Tribunal, Case Nos.: 10-121/10-122 Erickson v. Director, Ministry of the Environment, Dated this 18th day of July, 2011 by Jerry V. DeMarco, Panel Chair and Paul Muldoon, Vice-Chair, http://www.ert.gov.on.ca/english/decisions/index.htm]
Researching the Health Effects of Wind Turbines Close to Human Habitation
Dr Sarah Laurie, BMBS Flinders
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