Government regulators have stripped a prominent anti-wind farm lobby of its health promotion charity status.
The Waubra Foundation named after a disease the group claimed was caused living near the windfarm was able to receive tax deductible donations.
But the Greens who described the charity status of the group as “enormous public subsidies” complained to the Taxation Office and Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC), claiming there was no credible evidence to suggest a direct link between wind turbines and health problems.
This month without detailing the reasons the Commission revoked the Foundation status and the group has since removed its request for donations on its website. [see Waubra Foundation press release: ACNC reaffirms Waubra Foundation’s charity status, but ignores diseases caused by sleep deprivation]
Assistant Commissioner David Locke said earlier that he had doubts about the status of the group with links to high profile Liberal party members.
“It is not possible for me to find that the Foundation’s principal activity promotes the prevention or control of disease in human beings,” he said this year.
The Waubra Foundation had been classified a ”health promotion charity” by the tax office, meaning its ”principal activity is promoting the prevention and control of disease in humans”.
In the ATO’s words, obtaining the status is a ”relatively difficult process, for obvious reasons.”
Donations to Waubra have helped fund legal challenges against wind farm developments.
At the same time residents of Waubra who the group named complained the anti wind farm lobby had hijacked their name and its organisers did not live or were not connected with the town.
Former health minister Assistant Commissioner David Locke said in February. Assistant Commissioner David Locke said in February.
Assistant Commissioner David Locke said in February.Michael Wooldridge is a director of Waubra, and former MP Alby Schultz is its patron.
The foundation says its main aim is to ”educate others about the known science relating to the adverse health impacts of infrasound and low-frequency noise.”
The health effects of wind farms has become an increasingly vexed question in the countryside, where there are dozens of farms operated by companies including AGL and Origin Energy.
Sydney academic Simon Chapman says the number of health problems linked to wind farms has reached 216. He has argued that bad publicity about the farms makes it more likely people will report feeling sick around them.
”Wind turbine syndrome” – health problems ranging from headaches, dizziness and insomnia, purportedly the result of the turbines’ low-frequency sounds – is not recognised as a medical condition.
Greens Senator Richard Di Natale asked how the tax office determined that an illness a group purported to prevent was actually an illness.
But, said Sarah Laurie, Waubra chief executive: ”Whatever label is given to that range of symptoms, whether it is ‘wind turbine syndrome’ or ‘annoyance’ or ‘infrasound and low-frequency noise syndrome’ or something else, the facts remain that there are serious health problems occurring in some people which have been known to the wind industry for nearly 30 years.”
With Madeleine Heffernan
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