A new study has found links between wind farm infrasound and health concerns in Australia.
Operator Pacific Hydro commissioned a noise-monitoring study at its Cape Bridgewater wind farm, near Portland, following ongoing complaints from residents about their health and noise levels.
Six nearby residents kept diaries and recorded their awareness levels of noise, vibration and “sensations” including headaches, heart racing, ringing in the ears or pressure in the chest, head or ears.
The study showed a pattern of low-frequency sound, known as infrasound, when the wind farm was operational.
The report also cited a trend between the existence of infrasound frequencies and higher severity levels of “sensation” as recorded by the residents in their diaries.
Last year, the National Health and Medical Research Council published a paper that said “there was no consistent association between adverse health effects and estimated noise from wind turbines”.
Pacific Hydro executive manager of external affairs Andrew Richards said the report had rightfully called for further “scientifically robust study” on the findings given it was based on a small sample group.
“Pacific Hydro conducted this study to see whether we could establish any link between certain wind conditions or sound levels at Cape Bridgewater and the concerns of the individuals involved in the study.” Mr Richards said.
“While we acknowledge the preliminary findings of this report, what they mean at this point in time is largely unclear.
“In our view, the results presented in the report do not demonstrate a correlation that leads to the conclusion that there is a causal link between the existence of infrasound frequencies and the sensations experienced by the residents.”
Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh was also sceptical about the report’s findings and scientific rigour.
“Noise measurements were taken at just three houses, and a small number of self-nominated people participated who had previously made complaints about the wind farm’s operation,” he said.
A spokesman for Wind Industry Reform Victoria said the study provided “a significant step forward” in understanding the effects of wind turbines on people.
More research was needed, otherwise building more turbines near houses was “like playing Russian roulette with their health”, he said.
Premier Daniel Andrews has promised to relax planning laws that restrict wind turbine construction within 2km of homes down to 1km.
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