I guess this may seem like pushing at an open door for most of our visitors…. but it’s official- there is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause human health problems. Don’t take our word for it- this is the conclusion of a major draft review by Australia’s leading medical research body.
This is carefully researched study by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Anti-wind farm campaigners claim turbines can cause a wide range of ailments including, headaches, insomnia, and dizziness, sometimes dubbing the symptoms as “wind farm syndrome.” These have been widely rejected by the industry and many public health researchers but like many myths they keep bobbing up to the surface now and then.
In late-2012 the Council began reviewing the published scientific research into the health claims. Chief executive of the research council, Professor Warwick Anderson, said it had been a high-quality and systematic review. He said more recent published studies would also be considered in the council’s final findings due in coming months.
The review considered research into the three main areas; aural- noise, visual -shadow flicker and electromagnetic radiation from turbines. Its conclusion was that they found no conclusive evidence of any direct health effects from these sources. It also found wind farm noise was unlikely to be heard from distances beyond 500 to 1500 metres.
All that the review did find was some consistent evidence, albeit of poor quality and vague, that living close to a wind farms was associated with general “annoyance”. It also found much less consistent evidence proximity to a wind farm was associated with sleep loss and poorer quality of life. But the review stresses that this finding does not mean wind farm proximity causes annoyance, and could be rather the result of other factors or personal bias.
What is “annoyance”? Chair of the council’s expert reference group on wind farms and health, Professor Bruce Armstrong, said what constituted “annoyance” was defined by the respondents of the studies. He said annoyance might not be the result of direct factors – such as noise – and indirect issues – such as the visual impact of a wind farm – could be the cause. He said it was hard through the studies to disentangle the contributing factors.
“It is not necessarily noise, it could be the visual impact of the wind farms that causes the annoyance. And then the annoyance may in fact cause people to not be able to sleep.”
Through its literature review the council researchers identified no less than 2850 published works and received 506 public submissions, but deemed only seven studies to be of high enough quality to be included in the council’s review!
Friends of the Earth campaigner Leigh Ewbank (picture below) said the study had shown once again wind farms were “clean and safe”.