Wind power company Pacific Hydro has ended its research into possible impacts on nearby residents at the Cape Bridgewater wind farm in Victoria, with some residents planning to abandon their homes and consider legal action.
Acoustics expert Steven Cooper received a standing ovation from residents at a meeting on Monday night that ended in disappointment for many of those present.
Pacific Hydro said it understood some people would be disappointed but considered the National Health and Medical Research Council the appropriate body to co-ordinate further work.
The NHMRC said last week that it would commission targeted, high-quality research into the effects of wind farms, including into low-frequency noise and infrasound.
The Cooper study found a trend line existed between narrow band infrasound and severe sensations recorded by residents in their diaries.
International acoustics experts have said the study results showed a cause and effect, something that was not accepted by Pacific Hydro.
One of the study participants, Melissa Ware, said she would not return to live in her Cape Bridgewater house because of what she said was the impact of living near the wind turbines. “We will attempt to sell the house and look at some legal proceedings against Pacific Hydro because we have no other option,” she said.
Pacific Hydro said the Cooper study was not commissioned as a health study and the company could not enter into a debate about health issues or health impacts.
“We note that a recent NHMRC statement indicates that they will be conducting further work in this area which may be an appropriate place for rigorous health research to take place,” Pacific Hydro said in a statement.
It said the Cooper study contained a number of hypotheses that were yet to be fully tested and contained information that may prove useful as a basis for further study.
“The study clearly states that no correlation has been found with standard acoustic parameters versus the wind farm but the report suggests a correlation of some parameters versus wind speed,” the company said. A peer review of the study by Paul Schomer, who is one of the world’s most qualified and senior acoustics experts, said the Cooper study had shown clearly that there was “at least one non-visual, non-audible pathway for wind turbine emissions to reach, enter and affect some people”.
“The important point here is that something is coming from the wind turbines to affect these people and that something increases or decreases as the power output of the turbine increases or decreases,” Dr Schomer said.
Pacific Hydro and Mr Cooper said the outcome of the study “can lead to further discussion amongst the community, regulatory authorities, planning authorities, other researchers and the wind industry”.
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