Low level noise produced by wind turbines has an insignificant impact on neighbouring properties and is no greater than from other sources, a report from the state’s Environment Protection Authority says.
In a study that will add to the debate between wind farm proponents and detractors, the EPA’s Infrasound levels near windfarms and in other environments report measured the level of infrasound at 11 urban and rural locations around South Australia, including adjacent to the Bluff and Clements Gap wind farms.
It found that infrasound levels at locations near the wind farms assessed in the study were no greater than that in other urban and rural environments.
Infrasound is very low level noise below 20 Hertz that is generally too low for humans to hear but can often be felt as a physical sensation
The contribution of wind turbines to the measured infrasound levels “is insignificant in comparison with the background level of infrasound in the environment”, the report said.
Peter Dolan, EPA director of science and assessment, cautioned the findings were only “one piece of the puzzle” and that further studies of the state’s wind farms would be required before a full picture becomes clear.
However, Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh said the report’s findings finally put to rest a common “myth” about the effect of wind farm noise on surrounding residents.
“This new report provides hard evidence that wind turbines do not cause increased levels of infrasound in surrounding areas, neither inside people’s homes nor outdoors,” Mr Marsh said.
The report comes less than a month after the developers of the proposed $1.3 billion Ceres wind farm on the Yorke Peninsula – which would be Australia’s largest – lodged a development application with the State Government.
The report found infrasound levels near the Bluff Wind Farm were among the lowest of any measured in the study
However, wind farm opponents maintain that noise from turbines has caused conditions such as insomnia, along with other illnesses.
Australian Environment Foundation executive director Max Rheese maintained there was a link between wind farms and noise-related health complaints.
“There’s a direct link between a rise in complaints and community angst and the rise of wind farms in Australia,” he said.
Mr Rheese said he looked forward to the EPA conducting further studies at other wind farms.
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