Australian news, and some related international items

New South Wales Health and Planning Commission find wind farm no risk to health

Controversial wind farm gets clean bill of health SMH, September 3, 2013 Peter Hannam Carbon economy editor A controversial $200 million wind farm that divided a local community and drew opposition from a nearby maximum security jail has secured planning approval to proceed.

Infigen Energy’s 33 turbine wind farm planned for Bodangora, near Dubbo in central NSW, was approved by the state’s Planning Assessment Commission late last week with the ruling only made public on Monday.

In a potential setback to opposition at other proposed wind farm sites, the commission dismissed community concerns that noise from the turbines would affect their health. The commission said NSW Health “was very clear in its advice” that “there is no published scientific evidence to link wind turbines with adverse health effects”.

While NSW Health found that noise from the turbines “may cause some disturbance” to those living within 700 metres of the towers, it found the planned two-kilometre buffer zone to be “highly conservative” and “a very precautionary approach”.

The commission’s findings are “an important precedent” for the state, said Simon Chapman, a professor of public health at the University of Sydney. They add to almost 20 other official reports, such as from the Victorian government in May, that examined wind farms and health, he said.

“All of them are consistent in saying that there is no good evidence that wind turbines directly cause health effects,” Professor Chapman said. The NSW government has been considering draft guidelines for wind farms for about two years, including rules for a two-kilometre setback. Such a range is applied in Victoria and claimed by the wind energy industry to be among the toughest anywhere.

Frank Boland, Infigen’s senior development manager for the 100-megawatt project, welcomed the commission’s ruling for the Bodangora site.

“It not only gives us comfort but also should give comfort to anyone who did have health concerns about the project,” Mr Boland said. “We don’t see any causal link between wind turbines and health, full stop.”

The NSW Health statement “is relevant to other states as well”, Mr Boland said, adding that its ruling could help secure planning approval for a similar-sized wind farm planned by Infigen at Flyers Creek, south of Orange, and for projects elsewhere……..

September 4, 2013 - Posted by | New South Wales, wind

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