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May 26, 2024

Senate call for expert wind farm panel

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Wind farms, a clean renewable energy source. Photo imotov/Flickr
Wind farms, a clean renewable energy source. Photo imotov/Flickr

A Senate committee wants the government to establish a panel of independent experts to set standards and monitor the health effects of noise from wind farms, problems that health authorities say do not exist.

The Senate select committee on wind turbines, chaired by independent senator John Madigan, has also recommended that the Renewable Energy Target be amended so new renewable energy investments between 2015 and 2020 are eligible to create renewable energy certificates for no more than five years.

The report said there has been considerable controversy over the health effects of wind farm “infrasound” and complainants deserve to be taken seriously.

Committee members heard from several people who live near wind turbines who complained of a variety of health effects including tinnitus, raised blood pressure, heart palpitations, tachycardia, stress, anxiety, vertigo, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision and fatigue.

‘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,’ it said.

The proposed Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Industrial Sound would conduct research and set national acoustic standards for wind turbines, and provide expert scientific and health advice.

Wind farm operators that do not comply with noise requirements will not be eligible for renewable energy certificates.

The committee said the Renewable Energy Target (RET) is promoting an unbalanced market for renewables based on an over-reliance on wind with cross-subsidies increasing retail power prices.

Labor committee member Anne Urquhart said most of the recommendations are reckless, ridiculous and irresponsible, and will lead to the death of all renewable energy investment in Australia.

‘It’s just absurd to replace an efficient market mechanism with an expensive, taxpayer-funded burden by scrapping the RET and funnelling renewables through the notoriously expensive and inefficient Emissions Reduction Fund,’ she said in a statement.

The Australian Medical Association says local and international evidence does not support claims infrasound produced by wind turbines can make people ill.

‘There is no accepted physiological mechanism where sub-audible infrasound could cause health effects,’ the AMA’s wind farm position statement says.

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