Anti-wind groups and others hostile to renewable technology wish to deem anecdotal evidence inscrutable – consequently, they must accept all claims of health effects, no matter how improbable. If those professing this fallacy were bound by a scientific framework, this attitude would be indefensible.
Wind farm sickness: anecdotes versus evidence KETAN JOSHI ABC 7 MAY 2013 Anedotes are concerning, but should not be immune to scrutiny. A family’s experience of illness they attribute to a local wind farm is concerning, but is no substitute for medical research and hard evidence. “……
“I know this lady and her husband, as I’ve said, I’ve known them the majority of my life, and, this woman looks twenty years older than her husband now……This woman is absolutely tormented by the things, and she’s got two of them, near her. There’s only two turbines.”
- Australia DLP Senator John Madigan, Booroowa District Landscape Guardians Meeting, May 2012
Fear spreads better with a dash of human tears. As you visualise a weeping mother, her voice wavering as she speaks, the impact is instantaneous and potent. Millions of years of natural selection breathe life into the visceral salience of human suffering. Our ancestors, dwelling on the savannah, knew that the cost of ignoring a potential threat could be very, very high………..
Anti-wind lobby groups (such as the Waubra Foundation, headed by ex-GP Sarah Laurie) travel to communities facing wind farm developments, and present direct testimony from individuals attributing a range of symptoms to the presence of wind turbines. Anecdotal evidence is their key instrument in spreading fear of wind energy.
This is stated explicitly by Peter Quinn, a South Australian barrister who regularly represents anti-wind lobby groups:
“That experience is in itself, evidence. If you dragged in thirty people from Waubra, twenty from Waterloo and put them in a court room, to talk about the loss and the suffering, it will support a claim to obtain an injunction against any wind farm being proposed”
The implication is quite clear – anecdotal reports and emotional recitations are powerful tools in the fight against wind farm developments. Consequently, a large number of claimed health impacts, attributed to wind turbines, exist in the public domain.
Chapman began compiling these symptoms in early 2012. His list grew rapidly – it currently numbers 216, and features a bewildering array of symptoms, involving adults, children, cattle, sheep, chicken, dogs, peacocks, cats, pigs, earthworms, crabs, goats, crickets and horses (pdf).
These symptoms are collectively referred to as “Wind Turbine Syndrome” (WTS), originally coined by Nina Pierpont (a paediatrician married to an anti-wind activist). It has become the fundamental claim of groups working to stifle the development of renewables in Australia.
The ‘disease’ is not recognised by any medical authority in the world. It is purportedly caused by infrasonic (less than 20 Hz) noise from wind turbines. The South Australian Environmental Protection Agency recently measured levels of infrasound near wind farms(pdf), and compared them to rural and urban environments. Wind farms had some of the lowest recorded levels in their study. Some of the highest levels of infrasound were recorded inside the EPA’s office in Adelaide.
Importantly, research conducted by Professor Simon Chapman of Sydney University seems to show that complaints of ill-health seem to cluster around wind farms that have been subject to the presence of anti-wind lobbyists. Read more »
Global fund backs cheap Australian wind as local firms head abroad http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/global-fund-backs-cheap-australian-wind-as-local-firms-head-abroad-99984 By Sophie Vorrath on 8 May 2013 At a time when Australian wind energy companies are turning their focus to overseas marketsin the search for growth opportunities, a billion-dollar global private equity fund has announced an investment of $75 million in wind power in Australia.
Denham Capital Management, a $7.3 billion US-based fund focused on mining and energy, announced on Tuesday that it had invested $75 million in a 1GW portfolio of Australian wind power projects currently under development. Part of the deal, which remains subject to procedural closing conditions, will see Denham join existing project sponsors Enersis Australia, National Power and Kato Capital to create a separate entity called OneWind Australia.
Denham’s arrival on the scene is hoped to accelerate the development of these projects, with an initial focus on the late-stage development and financing of several of them, including Glen Innes, a 100MW wind farm in NSW; Lincoln Gap, a 250MW project in South Australia; and Cattle Hill, a 240MW development in Tasmania. Read more »
Australia’s biggest wind farm – the vital statisticshttp://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/australias-biggest-wind-farm-the-vital-statistics-35976 By Giles Parkinson 12 April 2013 Macarthur wind farm – the largest in Australia and the southern hemisphere – was officially opened in south western Victoria on Friday by the local member and state premier Denis Napthine. The 420MW wind farm, built at a cost of $1 billion by AGL Energy and New Zealand company Meridian, is the biggest single investment in renewable energy in the country since the Snowy Mountain hydro project was completed in the 1970s, the companies say. Read more »
5. Nuclear Advocates
These people may or may not believe that global warming is real, but they are invested heavily in nuclear energy as the answer to almost all of our energy needs and often have a poor understanding of grid management. They tend to be smart but ignore human dynamics of problems, and have a blind spot about the effort and time required to develop nuclear engineers and maintenance workers. Their greatest challenge to renewables campaigns is that their arguments are leveraged by others who are just against wind energy…….
If countered, the average nuclear advocate will drag out more and more factoids about nuclear energy’s value and wind power’s lack of value. They will likely reference amateur and professional studies which look good until you dig in and realize the biases. Generally a time suck, so avoid digging into their arguments in too much depth…… . Talk past them to those listening.
NOT JUST NIMBYS: UNDERSTANDING ANTI-WIND ENERGYCAMPAIGNERS Barnard on Wind, by Mike Barnard 8 April 13, NIMBY is a nice crisp acronym, but it is completely inadequate as a categorization of the various people fighting against broader penetration of renewables in energy grids world wide and their motivations…..
1. NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard Read more »
Sarah Laurie’s windfarm fearmongering enough to make you sick, Independent Australia, 9 Apr 13 In spite of 17 reviews and a new landmark study, Sarah Laurie defiantly continues her propaganda campaign against wind farms. Mike Barnard reports. A LANDMARK STUDY by Fiona Crichton at the University of Auckland recently showed that propaganda linking the low levels of noise from wind to sickness is a strong cause of anxiety related symptoms. The control group, which hadn’t watched the video of health fears from anti-wind campaigners, had no symptoms.
The findings backed up previous reports in Australia showing “unwarranted fear-mongering might cause greater health impacts than the presence of any actual ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’”.
Sarah Laurie, head of the Waubra Foundation, an offshoot of the anti-wind, astroturfer, the Landscape Guardians, is the source of a great deal of the anti-wind propaganda which is harming people’s health.
To date, Sarah Laurie’s work has been largely constrained to south-eastern Australia, however she has begun to spread her wings. We can expect a related spread of so called ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’, an illness that Professor Simon Chapman has famously dubbed a ‘communicated disease’. (Due to her active spreading of disinformation, she’s up for the Australian Skeptics’ annual Bent Spoon award for 2013.)….. Read more »
SA backs wind energy as investors hover REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath 20 March 2013 South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill has reaffirmed his government’s support for wind energy, saying that recent calls from within parliament for a moratorium on future wind farm development in Australia were putting investment in the industry at risk. “The government remains committed to providing ample opportunity for investment in wind energy in South Australia,” the premier told state parliament on Tuesday, adding that he would seek a vote in parliament on Wednesday backing the renewable energy sector. “Every megawatt hour of wind energy cuts about one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions. Apart from the environmental benefits, wind farms also bring in vital investment to our state,” Weatherill said, pointing to the around $3 billion in wind energy investment South Australia had already attracted, as well as 842 direct jobs…… http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/mixed-greens-sa-backs-wind-energy-as-investors-hover-59380
The anti-wind campaign was viewed very much as “Ted’s show”, to the point where other government ministers would pass off their responsibility: It’s not my call, it’s Ted’s”
New Premier Dennis Napthine knows the wind industry and many Victorian wind jobs and has a track record of standing up for local manufacturing in the wind industry, and seeking to protect it from foreign imports.
“I think we can expect a more rational approach to wind industry, and more broadly renewable energy policy, whereas Ted Baillieu appeared to have a personal vendetta against renewable energy,” Wakeham said. Environment Victoria has a scorecard on Baillieu’s record on the environment and clean energy.
Why Baillieu’s exit could be good news for wind energy, REneweconomy By Giles Parkinson 7 March 2013 It is deeply ironic that on the very day that Ted Baillieu made his shock decision to resign as Premier of Victoria, the latest economic data showed the state had officially entered a recession: the man who had turned his back on the burgeoning clean energy industry had left the state with a shrinking economy.
It’s a moot point whether embracing the wind industry would have kept Victoria out of recession – although Friends of the Earth estimates Baillieu’s anti-wind decisions cost around $887 million in lost or stalled investment, and the 650 direct jobs and a further 1,400 indirect jobs lost in the process would have been useful for a state suffering the highest unemployment rate in the country.
But Baillieu’s opposition to wind is a parable for our times. Economies are changing, whether politicians like it or not, or believe in climate change or not. The clean energy transition is a global phenomenon that has been embraced by nearly every company not dependent on fossil fuels, and is recognised as such by the leaders of the major economies – US, China, Japan and Germany.
Ideological opposition and the bestowing of favours to some rich landowners may stop a few turbines, but it is nothing more than just pissing into the wind. Baillieu was so entrenched in the past he even favoured digging up half the state and exporting the brown coal reserves. As Deutsche Bank pointed out this week, economies like China will likely soon not want our black coal, let alone the more polluting brown mud found in Victoria. Read more »
Wind farms beneficial: Clean Energy Council http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/201303/s3702991.htm According to recent research conducted by the Clean Energy Council, wind farming has reportedly generated more than $4 billion in investment in Australia since its introduction.
Much of this investment has been in rural and regional towns. Read more »
Liberal candidate Angus Taylor, and noisy anti wind minority, are out of step with majority support for wind farms
Angus Taylor, the Liberal candidate for the safe Liberal-held seat of Hume, which covers much of the district targeted by wind energy companies, including Mr Prell’s Crookwell property, has issued a policy paper challenging the renewable energy target, or RET
Wind farm opponents in minority: proponent, Canberra Times, March 4, 2013John Thistleton
Grazier Charlie Prell says a noisy minority opposed to wind farms in the Canberra region does not represent more than 70 per cent of people in his shire who support them.
He chaired a meeting of 100 farmers, lawyers and earth-moving contractors at Yass last week with the aim of forming a landholders’ network to foster wind and solar farms. Read more »
Wind Farm Infrasound Myth Debunked http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=3577 5 Feb 13, South Australia’s Environment Protection Authority has released a report showing infrasound levels at homes near wind turbines is no greater than what is experienced elsewhere. Infrasound is sound that is lower in frequency than 20 Hz (Hertz), which is lower than the “normal” limit of human hearing.
Infrasound is a point seized upon by some anti-wind farm campaigners as a contributor to “Wind-Turbine Syndrome“, a mysterious affliction said to cause psychological issues and physiological problems such as insomnia, headaches, tinnitus, vertigo and nausea.
In the EPA study, undertaken in conjunction with Resonate Acoustics, infrasound levels were recorded at seven locations in urban areas and four locations in rural areas; including two residences approximately 1.5 kilometres away from wind turbines at Bluff Wind Farm and Clements Gap Wind Farm.
The EPA says infrasound levels measured at the two residential locations near wind farms were “within the range of infrasound levels measured at comparable locations away from wind farms”. The report notes the results at one of the houses near a wind farm were the lowest infrasound levels measured at any of the 11 locations included in the study.
“This study concludes that the level of infrasound at houses near the wind turbines assessed is no greater than that experienced in other urban and rural environments, and that the contribution of wind turbines to the measured infrasound levels is insignificant in comparison with the background level of infrasound in the environment.”
Commenting on the report, Clean Energy Council Policy Director Russell Marsh said, “The results of the EPA’s report show that the real contributors to infrasound are things like air-conditioners, traffic and urban office environments – not wind farms. This is great news for clean and safe renewable wind energy and further reassurance for communities near wind farms.”
In January last year, Australia’s Climate And Health Alliance (CAHA) stated“There is no credible peer reviewed scientific evidence that demonstrates a link between wind turbines and direct adverse health impacts in people living in proximity to them.”
The report on infrasound levels near wind farms and in other environments can be viewed in full here (PDF).
Flinders Island’s windy future http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-12-16/flinders-island27s-windy-future/4430334 Dec 16, 2012 Flinders Island in Bass Strait plans to produce all its power from renewable energy sources.
The plan to put up three or four wind turbines and a mini hydro storage system would cost up to $25 million.
A privately-run turbine is already producing 25 per cent of the island’s energy.
Flinders Island Council general manager Raoul Harper said residents wanted to make that 100 per cent. ”Being in the top five wind resource areas on the planet the concept of continuing to burn diesel to power the island does seem absurdreally,” he said.
In the long run Mr Harper said the project would be cost effective because the government would no longer need to pay Hydro Tasmania $3 million a year to supply diesel. The council is seeking Federal Government funding through its new
renewable energy agency.
“There’s $10 billion worth of investment sitting in the pipeline waiting to find out what Brad Hazzard is going to do with their
“Four thousand jobs, 17 million tonnes a year cut from the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, waiting to see what the O’Farrell Government will do.”
Guidelines wait blows against NSW wind farms http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-12-14/guidelines-wait-blows-against-nsw-windfarms/4427964 Dec 14, 2012 The Clean Energy Council says a delay in finalising new guidelines for
wind farms in New South Wales is forcing investors to look to other states for opportunities.
It is a year since the New South Wales Government put draft guidelines out for community consultation.
A spokesman for Planning Minister Brad Hazzard says the policy is still being finalised. In the meantime, no new wind farms have been approved.
The Clean Energy Council’s policy director, Russell Marsh, says that is sending investment elsewhere. Read more »
Blow out the candles: Australia’s oldest wind turbine turns 25 REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath 4 December 2012 November might have been a milestone month for solar, with cumulative PV installations reaching 2GW, but it also marked a reasonably big milestone for wind: 25 years since the Breamlea Wind Turbine, near Geelong in Victoria, was commissioned. Read more »
higher sound levels were recorded with turbines turned off versus when the turbines were running. A strong indication that the origin of most infrasound and low-frequency noise was the wind itself which was slowed by running turbines…….
Wind turbine infrasound: What’s all the noise about?, REneweconomy, By Richard Mackie 4 December 2012 On Wednesday the Senate inquiry into excessive noise from wind farms released their report. The inquiry was supposed to focus on audible noise but debate strayed into concerns that wind turbines can cause health problems by producing infrasound (sound of a frequency so low that it is normally inaudible) and low frequency noise.
Wind farm opposition groups such as the Waubra Foundation are prone to making extreme statements about wind turbines such as this from their senate inquiry submission “…characteristic symptom patterns have been reported at distances up 10km away from the nearest wind turbine.” Infrasound is blamed and understandably people get concerned.
So where does this idea come from? The Senate inquiry gives us the answers. Submissions represent a global who’s who in the debate on wind farms and health. Often information provided to support the wind farms-cause-health-problems idea actually demonstrates the opposite. Read more »
Insight: How communities can take lead in green energy REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson 30 November 2012 This is the second in a series looking more deeply into issues which affect the development of the clean energy industry in Australia. The first was on the 2kms set-back rule imposed by the Victorian government and at least partially adopted in NSW.
For the past 12 months, a digital display located behind the counter of the newsagent in High Street in the Victorian town of Woodend has logged what Barry Mann describes as a major lost opportunity. Real time data from a wind mast located in an old timber mill a few kilometres out of town documents the amount of electricity that would have been produced if a proposal to install three wind turbines in a harvested pine forest 6kms from town had been allowed to go ahead.
Before the mast was taken down earlier this month: the data stood at this: 12.6 gigawatt hours of electricity generated over 12 months and four days (12.630 million kilowatt hours) – about enough electricity to satisfy the needs of 2,037 homes and generate $1.5 million in revenue from selling the electrons to the grid. (You can find the data on their website)
Mann is a director of WISE (Woodend Integrated Sustainable Energy) – a local not-for-profit group that says its goal is to ”assist communities to take responsibility for their energy and carbon future.” It is one of dozens of similar groups in Australia that are hoping to implement their own local plans, but don’t have so many electrons to show for it yet.
For the moment, Woodend’s own plans have been frustrated by the election of the Baillieu Conservative government, and the introduction of a 2km setback ruling and the declaration of a “no-go” zone through large slabs of the Mt Macedon ranges – two initiatives that local member Donna Petrovich is proud to take responsibility for. (See addendum below) Read more »