December 7, 2017

Turbine health fears ‘warrant study’

Graham Lloyd, Environment Editor | The Australian |

There is a plausible basis for thinking noise from wind turbines may lead to adverse health outcomes, such as to warrant further investigation, Victoria’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal has found.

An appeals judgment on the charitable trust status of the industrial noise lobby group Waubra Foundation said it was not necessary for the AAT to draw conclusions as to the precise nature of the annoyance or how it arose.

It accepted that “conducting, supporting and advocating for further research or engaging in awareness-raising activities could be properly characterised as activities promoting the prevention or control of diseases”.

However, the AAT said it did not follow that the Waubra Foundation’s other activities, in particular its responses to requests for information, its support and assistance to those complaining of the perceived effects of wind farm sound, and its participation in litigation were also to be regarded as the promotion for the prevention or control of diseases.

As a result, the AAT upheld an earlier judgment which effectively stripped the Waubra Foundation of its tax deductible status.

Waubra Foundation chief executive Sarah Laurie said the group was considering its options.

The AAT heard evidence about the state of scientific knowledge on the possible health impacts of turbines. It did not attempt to solve the issue or rule on whether annoyance may be caused by sound which is not audible (infrasound).

“That is something which we expect will be the subject of further study,” the AAT said. “For our purposes, it is sufficient that annoyance is produced, and it appears that it may be associated with adverse health outcomes.

“An identification of the causes of that annoyance may allow it to be reduced or mitigated and adverse health outcomes to be reduced or avoided.”

The AAT said it regarded as significant that the National Health and Medical Research Council had provided $3.3 million to investigate the issue.

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