Australia’s peak public health research agency plans to offer funds for further study of the health impacts of wind farms after a year-long review identified knowledge “gaps”.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) said it intends to release a targeted call for research on wind farms and human health “to stimulate applications for further high quality research on this issue”, a council spokeswoman said.
The one-off request for grant applications “will address gaps identified in NHMRC’s evidence review and aligns with the government’s commitment for further research in this area”, the spokeswoman said, declining to detail those research holes.
The council’s last such call was made in 2013 for additional research into suicide prevention for youth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The plan to fund additional research comes even before the council has finalised its review, which the agency expects will be released early this year.
The Abbott government ordered the council’s study a year ago even before it had released the results of a study of international research into so-called “wind-turbine syndrome”.
Groups opposed to wind farms say the turbines emit low-frequency sounds that can cause headaches, insomnia and other adverse effects on nearby residents. So far, though, there is little peer-reviewed research to confirm the link.
Simon Chapman of Sydney University’s School of Public Health said the council appeared to be tilting its research priorities to address its critics.
“If you had vaccine cranks putting this pressure on, I’d hate to imagine they would indulge them in the same way,” Professor Chapman said.
Greens health spokesman Richard Di Natale said the government was “throwing good money after bad” trying to perpetuate a “myth”.
“Forget wind turbine syndrome, we need more studies into ‘bad government syndrome’,” Senator Di Natale said.
“When you hear this government claim that ‘coal is good for humanity’ while helping to peddle misinformation and fear about wind turbines, you begin to understand just how warped its priorities are.”
A spokesman for Health Minister Sussan Ley said the NHMRC’s report had not yet been published and so the government would not pre-empt its findings.
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