A scientific researcher whose groundbreaking study into the impact of wind turbines on nearby residents has criticised the ABC’s Media Watch program, saying its journalist hounded his company about alleged media misrepresentations without reading or understanding his report.
The study by acoustics expert Steven Cooper measured the sensations felt by a group of residents who had complained of health concerns, and matched their diary records with the wind farm operations. The study found a correlation between severe sensations experienced by the small group of residents studied and the power output of the turbines at Cape Bridgewater in Victoria.
The Cooper report has been hailed internationally as representing a breakthrough in the study of wind turbines and possible impacts.
The Australian’s environment editor Graham Lloyd has extensively reported on the findings of the study after they were released last month and has been the subject of inquiries by Media Watch journalist Flint Duxfield.
Media Watch has asked The Australian to justify the prominent coverage it gave to the study.
Mr Cooper was critical of Duxfield when contacted by The Australian yesterday, and said the journalist had failed to properly read his report before making inquiries into its fair and accurate representation in the media.
Mr Cooper said he was appalled by the ABC’s attempts to contact his office, which he said was “hounded” by hourly calls over a four-day period.
“In the end I spoke to them to answer questions and I wasn’t overly impressed,” he said.
“They were after Channel Seven and Graham Lloyd, and in the end his inquiries were about people not reading and reporting incorrect information.
“It got to a point where he was asking questions and I said, ‘You haven’t read the report’, to which he replied, ‘Oh, I’ve skimmed the report’, and I said, ‘Well that’s a problem, you’re here about talking about people misrepresenting but you haven’t read the report’.
“He just tried to talk about people misrepresenting. I did tell him that what Graham Lloyd had presented was correct. “
Media Watch host Paul Barry, responding on behalf of Duxfield, said he was not party to the conversation, “but I can tell you that he is always unfailingly courteous and never hounds anyone – and yes, Flint has read the report”.
Barry claimed that “some eminent Australian scientists” had concerns about The Australian’s coverage of the Cooper report.
Lloyd said the issue was about making sure minority rights were properly respected. “This is not about ideology,” he said. “The absence of high-quality research, as evidenced by the National Health and Medical Research Council’s latest statement, is astonishing.”
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