Wind farm debate is full of noise: review of evidence

(AAP)

There is no consistent evidence about effects on human health due to wind turbines, a review of 4000 documents has revealed.

There is no consistent evidence to suggest wind farms have adverse effects on human health, a comprehensive review of wind farm studies and other literature reveals.

The report identifies more than 4000 studies and documents that address the health effects of wind turbines.

Only 13 of those were up to sufficient scientific standard to be taken seriously, despite the “scientific” label often used to promote those studies.

Those 13 documents relating to noise, radiation and shadow flicker were found to be of poor quality, due to problems including small sample sizes and potential problems of bias.

Australia’s leading authority on supporting health and medical research, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), oversaw the process and the final report's release on Wednesday.

More rigorous and scientific research was needed to investigate effects of wind turbines on human health, the NHMRC's Professor Warwick Anderson said.

“It is important to note ‘no consistent evidence’ does not necessarily mean ‘no effect on human health’,” Professor Anderson said.

“It’s very hard to prove a negative.”

“There’s no consistent evidence at this stage… but more research is needed.” – Warwick Anderson, NHMRC

Professor Bruce Armstrong, who led the NHMRC's Reference Group, was also at the final report's launch.

Professor Armstrong suggested the direct effects of wind turbines on human health, often reported by people who do not like turbines, cannot be separated from factors like ‘annoyance’.

There has been reported loss of sleep for people who live close to wind turbines, but being annoyed about the wind turbines could cause the loss of sleep, he said.

He added that people who self-report or agree to take part in studies about the adverse effects of wind turbines would often be annoyed.

The NHMRC report said while the effects of noise on human health were well-documented, that noise occurs at a higher volume.

The report advised more thorough and scientific investigations were needed.

The scope of this review was representative of the literature available, the professors said.

The review called for submissions at one point and hundreds of papers were added to the review’s scope.

People are concerned

Although there is a lack of consistent evidence into the effects of wind turbines, many people quote studies and literature that affirm their beliefs.

The federal government’s Select Committee on Wind Turbines has started to publish submissions collected before the committee's report is released, due in June.

Gordon McGlashan wrote to the review,  with concerns that “Wind farms are ugly and emit significant sound and vibrations which result in health problems for anyone working or living close to the turbines”.

He suggested wind farms should not be placed closer than 10km to any dwelling.

Anton Lang's submission insisted the health effects of wind farms were documented.

“There are undoubtedly health problems associated with wind power, and these are real and now proven in jurisdictions all around the World,” Mr Lang said.

A submission from Dr Judy Ryan rejected science.

“The slow corruption of science education so that people could be fooled by the oxymoron ‘scientific consensus’ is part of politically driven global agenda orchestrated by the United Nations. We should crawl out from under its thumb and treasure our nationhood and democracy,” Dr Ryan said.

Alan Scott's submission talked about a "New World Order".

“The time has come for Australian politicians from all warring camps to speak the truth to their electors, rather than mouthing the party lines handed down to them by their United Nations masters," he said.

Graham Thomas' submission said wind turbines should be banned, as should fridges.

"House hold fridges should be low frequency or banned from sale. Because they disturb sleep in children."

Source SBS

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch