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Senator: Wind firm sent GPs ‘propaganda’

Victorian senator John Madigan has accused the operator of the Macarthur wind farm of corruption and has compared wind energy to the tobacco industry.

But the country’s leading medical group, the Australian Medical Association (AMA), says there is no evidence for the senator’s claims that turbines affect health.

Wind farm operator AGL has denied the senator’s claims, pointing to a trove of government and international research. Speaking in the senate this week, the outspoken Ballarat-based Democratic Labour Party senator said AGL Australia had pressured doctors in the south-west into ignoring all claims of wind turbine syndrome in the lead-up to the Macarthur wind farm going online.

In November 2012 AGL wrote to doctors in 12 clinics across western Victoria about one of its power generation facilities at the Macarthur wind farm,” Senator Madigan said. “These medical practices span in an area of several hundred kilometres from Hamilton in the north to Portland and Warrnambool in the south.

“The letter’s aims were to discredit and discount any patient visiting any doctor with any claims of ill health brought out by living near the Macarthur wind farm.

“It is an outrageous and pre-emptive example of corporate propaganda and was directed straight into the consulting rooms of rural and regional doctors.” A copy of the letter, provided by AGL to The Standard, tells doctors that “no less than 17 independent international studies” rejected health impacts.

It suggests GPs could direct patients to AGL “if you feel it would be beneficial”.

“AGL goes above and beyond regulatory noise monitoring requirements. We have collected more than 40,000 hours of data and continue our monitoring program to ensure we remain compliant,” an AGL spokeswoman told The Standard yesterday.

Senator Madigan also quoted an “anonymous” health survey carried out in the area last year that found 60 people living within eight kilometres of the wind farm were experiencing “detrimental impacts” from its turbines. However, The Standard reported in September that the survey was commissioned by an anti-wind group, the Australian Industrial Wind Turbine Awareness Network, and undertaken by a person opposed to another wind farm near her own home.

A statement released by the AMA said: “There is no accepted physiological mechanism where sub-audible infrasound could cause health effects.”

“The reporting of ‘health scares’ and misinformation regarding wind farm developments may contribute to heightened anxiety and community division, and over-rigorous regulation of these developments by state governments.”