Wind farms are breaching the NSW government’s environmental legislation, with excessive noise causing sleep loss, stress and other health problems.
The claims are made in a submission presented to NSW Planning on Monday by a group opposed to plans for a wind farm in Flyers Creek, near Orange in the state’s central west.
‘There is a pattern of systematic non-compliance by wind farms with audible and inaudible noise going beyond agreed allowable limits,’ said the report’s author, rural GP and farmer Dr Alan Watts.
‘That has real impacts on the health of people living near turbines, such as sleep deprivation and stress.’
Cabinet is meeting this week to consider guidelines that will determine the future of wind power in NSW.
About 20 applications for new farms have been put on hold while the government decides how to balance competing interests.
Lindsay Soutar, a campaigner for community group 100% Renewable, said the issue was a test of the government’s credibility.
‘It would be completely out of step with community opinion if Barry O’Farrell and his cabinet turn their back on wind power in NSW,’ she said in a statement on Monday.
‘Decisions are being made right now that will affect the potential for thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars worth of investment in NSW.’
But Dr Watts, a campaigner for the Flyers Creek Wind Turbine Awareness Group, said the government had a duty of care to people.
The group tested noise levels at the Capital Wind Farm near Lake George in NSW and found significant noise impacts above that predicted for the wind farm.
A report surmised the Flyers Creek wind farm would generate offensive noise, have a significant impact on residents and breach the NSW Protection of the Environment Operation Act.
‘It is scandalous that it took the community to put in place and pay for the noise monitoring that has uncovered this systematic non-compliance by the wind industry,’ Dr Watts said.
‘Wind farms should be strictly monitored.
‘If they are unable to comply by producing excessive noise then they should be shut down and removed.’