An independent scientific committee should be created to set national standards on the level of sound emitted by windfarms, the final report of a Senate inquiry into turbines has recommended.
States that refuse to adopt the national limits should be barred from receiving renewable energy certificates, it said.
The independent expert scientific committee on industrial sound should report back to state and federal health ministers on the health effects of proposed windfarms, the report by the select committee on wind turbines said. If the project poses a risk, it should not be accredited.
The report was tabled in the Senate on Monday, and urges the federal government to put a cap on renewable energy certificates of five years.
It wants the productivity commission to look at the how wind-generated electricity affects retail electricity prices, and is urging that the Clean Energy Regulator release any information it has proving that wind power is reducing the amount of carbon emissions.
Labor released a dissenting report, labelling the recommendations “reckless, ridiculous and irresponsible”.
Committee member and Labor senator Anne Urquhart said its main aim is the crippling of the renewables industry.
“This isn’t just an attack on wind – Australia’s entire renewable energy industry would pay the price,” Urquhart said. “The majority report is belligerently deaf to the expert advice that wind energy is not only safe, but it is affordable and should play a critical role in Australia’s transition to a low-carbon economy.”
If adopted by the federal government, the recommendations will deal another blow to the wind industry, already smarting from last month’s announcement that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation will no longer invest in windfarms.
“I fear this report will only serve to feed the prime minister’s blind obsession with destroying an industry that promises billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs in regional communities,” Urquhart said.
“If the government follows through on the recommendations in the majority report it will just cement Australia’s place as a global climate pariah with regional communities and the environment paying the price.”
The final report also recommends that the national health and medical research council should research the ill health effects of wind turbines, a syndrome that has been widely disproved.
“The committee believes there is an urgent need to put in place a central point of expert scientific advice on the risks of wind turbines to human health,” the report said.
The Australian Medical Association refused to front the inquiry and has said that “there is no accepted physiological mechanism where sub-audible infrasound could cause health effects”.
The report criticised the AMA’s decision not to give evidence, and hammered the research council for taking the advice of “Big Wind”.
“There are glaring planning and compliance deficiencies plus growing evidence, domestic and international, that infrasound and low frequency sound from wind turbines is having an adverse health impact on some people who live in the vicinity of windfarms. This is not something a responsible government can ignore,” he said.
A recommendation from the committee’s interim report – that the government set up the new role of wind commissioner – has already been adopted by the federal environment minister Greg Hunt, in exchange for crossbench support on the renewable energy target.
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