News of an Australian wind farm commissioner has renewed the old debate about the claimed health effects of wind turbines.
The Federal Government's promise of a wind farm commissioner has given some more air to the ageing debate of health impacts from wind turbines.
A leaked letter published on the Guardian Australia website on Thursday explained the government seeks to appoint a National Wind Farm Commissioner, to hear complaints from concerned community members about noise from wind turbines.
The government would also establish a scientific committee to look into environmental and health effects from wind turbines, just months after the last scientific government review was released.
Pleased with the government’s announcement is anti-wind farm campaigner and farmer Robert Griffin.
“I’ve seen people who’ve had to move from their houses, because they can’t stand the noise – people have been living in their houses for five generations,” Mr Griffin told SBS News.
“They’re not going to do that lightly. People are saying they’re making it up – that’s rubbish. There has to be a proper investigation to find out why those people are getting sick.”
The most comprehensive Australian investigation into the health effects of wind turbines was released in February, with the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) meta review of 4000 reports, studies and anecdotes from Australia and around the world.
The report found 13 of those were up to scientific standard for consideration but the NHMRC found no reliable evidence of health effects from wind turbines. The final report recommended more research, since the effects could not be ruled out.
Andrew Bray of the Australian Wind Alliance said the effects of wind farms were unproven, while the effects of coal-fired power stations have been documented.
Mr Griffin said wind turbines were ugly, but Mr Bray said that was a personal judgment.
“There are very few people who would look at a wind turbine and see that as being uglier than an open coal mine,” Mr Bray said.
Mr Bray said jobs in renewable energy in regional Australia should not be put at risk.
Yesterday, a Senate Inquiry looking into the effects of wind turbines released an interim report calling for a National Wind Farm Ombudsman.
Five out of six Senators on the committee are on record making comments that were not in favor of wind turbines.
However, Labor Senator Anne Urquhart told Fairfax Media the committee had heard no expert evidence to support claims of health impacts.
Greens Senator Larissa Waters questioned the rationale for a wind farm commissioner, suggesting it was contradictory.
"If you are really worried about the health impacts of energy generation, where is the coal mining commissioner?" she said in parliament.
"Why do we have a wind farm commissioner rather than a coal mine commissioner to look at the health impacts of what is genuinely a damaging fossil fuel?
"Unfortunately this is more of what can be expected from the Government's tin foil hat brigade."
Former disability commissioner Graeme Innes is reportedly dismayed about the news for a National Wind Farm Commissioner.
"There was no fulltime disability commissioner, which suggested the government had not prioritised people who live with disabilities over unproven health effects of wind farms," Mr Innes said.
"It sends a very clear message about where people with disabilities fall in the pecking order," he told Fairfax Media on Friday.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently revealed on radio he disliked wind farms, which he thought were "visually awful".
Mr Abbott admitted he wanted to reduce the numbers of wind turbines Australia would have in the future.