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Spotlight on wind farm health woes

The Federal Government should fund a large research project to determine the impact of wind farms on health.

That’s according to Nicoleta Raluca Dorobantu, a researcher at Adelaide’s University College London.

While the negative health effects of wind farms are being cited as reasons to stop their development, there is no scientific basis for the claims and some evidence countering it, Ms Dorobantu says.

Ms Dorobantu is presenting her research in Adelaide today at the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus).

She has examined the 1014 submissions into this year’s Senate Inquiry into the Social and Economic Impacts of Wind Farms.

Ms Dorobantu found claims of adverse health consequences from wind farms were the most common reason for objections.

She said this argument had been confined largely to Australia, the UK and the US.

Objections to wind farms operating for four decades in Europe had been focused mainly on impacts on property valuations, wildlife and landscape.

“Wind farms have been operating in Europe for a very long time … I noticed that the main reasons for concern were their impact on property valuations, wildlife and the landscape,” Mr Dorobantu said.

“The main issues of concern that I identified (in the Australian submissions) were actually related to the health concerns.

“This health issue was followed by procedural justice, so people were concerned about the way in which developers engaged with them over the lifetime of a project.”

Ms Dorobantu said the health concerns had gained prominence just over the last couple of years, and were specific to anglo-saxon countries.

“In the rest of Europe, in Denmark, Sweden et cetera, the health concerns haven’t been raised yet, even though the industry is maybe 40 years old,” she said.

Ms Dorobantu said most of the concerns about health came from anecdotal evidence.

“There are some scientific peer-reviewed studies that actually contradict any direct link between wind turbines … and the health effects on people living close by.”

She said the government and industry should achieve a consensus on steps to scientifically research the alleged health impacts.

“I believe there should be a large, high impact research project to explore the issue and clarify all aspects related to this,” she said.

Ms Dorobantu said there should be an investigation into groups opposing wind farm developments to ensure those objecting were impacted.

Her study also found people had concerns about the way wind farming companies communicated with communities on projects.

“There should be an investigation into that to see if all of these small opposing groups are actually genuine.”

Ms Dorobantu is one of nine students from the inaugural University College London Masters of Science course who are presenting their research at the RiAus.