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A class-action lawsuit is being planned against a local council, the Victorian government and a wind farm operator after an independent review accepted resident complaints that noise from a Gippsland wind farm was causing them harm.
Noise from a wind farm in Victoria's Gippsland is having an adverse impact on the comfort and wellbeing of residents living at surrounding properties, a new report commissioned by a local council has found.
The shire council must finally acknowledge that the neighbours of the Bald Hills Wind Farm, their own ratepayers, have a legitimate gripe under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act and support them in their attempts to get redress from the operator and the State Government. And the State Government must finally admit that it allowed the turbines to be sited too close to the existing farm houses for them not to cause a noise nuisance.
The report by Mr Smith, an expert in public health follows a botched attempt by the shire to investigate the complaints itself between May and November 2016, after which the shire produced a finding of “no nuisance” in January 2017 before telling the affected property owners that the case was closed in April 2017. But it wasn’t closed and the complainants took Supreme Court action to get a proper investigation. The matter is due to go back to the Supreme Court on November 26, two days after the next state election.
In its summary, and with unanimous support from relevant experts, AAT found that there were numerous recorded instances of wind turbine noise exceeding 40 dB(A) — a recognized threshold for annoyance/sleep disturbance. “Even if it is not audible, low-frequency noise and infrasound may have other effects on the human body, which are not mediated by hearing but also not fully understood,” the summary reads.
The residents called on AGL to “fix” existing problems at Macarthur, such as deteriorating roads, before launching into a new project. Resident Jacinta Coffey said the area was “becoming a dumping ground for wind energy” and it was "unfair” to the community with more than 240 wind turbines to be built in Hawkesdale and surrounding areas.
“That is something which we expect will be the subject of further study,” the AAT said. “For our purposes, it is sufficient that annoyance is produced, and it appears that it may be associated with adverse health outcomes. “An identification of the causes of that annoyance may allow it to be reduced or mitigated and adverse health outcomes to be reduced or avoided.”
Hawkesdale farmer Paul Lewis says noise from Macarthur wind farm, five kilometres from his home, wakes him up at night. ...“No one can do anything to really address the problems with existing wind farms. Moyne (shire council) have wiped their hands of it and don’t take responsibility, and the State Government isn’t doing anything,” Mr Lewis said.
Now with a slew of new wind farms planned around his town of Hawkesdale, 300km west of Melbourne, and impending changes to Victorian state planning policy, Mr Lewis is seriously pondering his future. “Everyone thinks these things are great, but they’re not the ones living beside them and getting woken up at night,” he said.
Tablelands residents have accused the developer of a wind farm of destroying part of a mountain for the $380 million project and turning it into an “eyesore”.
The question of whether wind turbines are physically capable of producing the adverse reactions claimed is unresolved. However, it is now scientifically demonstrated by Swedish researchers that amplitude-modulated low-frequency wind turbine noise can directly cause sleep disturbance, even in young fit people taking part in its research study.
A factor which may have impacted on the expansion of wind driven technology in Australia was the ongoing claim by people living near turbines that their health had been impacted. The institute is working with acoustics experts to test surrounding inaudible, or infrasound noises, generated by wind turbines.
This important study has identified flaws in the current compliance testing for wind turbine noise and further outlined the methods necessary for identifying and measuring the low-frequency, pulsation that isoften times reported by those impacted by the turbines. Specifically, the "presence of amplitude modulation in the low frequency region, that modulates at an infrasound rate, at or near the threshold of hearing" has been identified and may support the symptoms reported by Dr. Nina Pierpont in her work, Wind Turbine Syndrome. The introduction and conclusion of the paper is provided below. The full paper can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.
Victorian firm Maddens Lawyers filed the class action against Infigen Energy Ltd in the NSW Supreme Court after a crow electrocuted by a transmission line carrying power from the company’s Woodlawn wind farm sparked the fire, which burned 3400ha and caused up to $20 million damage.
It’s time to stop denying that wind farm noise causes adverse health effects in some people. It’s insulting to sufferers to be accused of only suffering from a “nocebo” effect. Everyone who is adversely affected by wind farm operations deserves to be heard and deserves adequate compensation, which should include an offer to purchase their property at a fair price.
Putting money into investigating possible health effects of infrasound was consistent with previous National Health and Medical Research Council recommendations, said the environment minister, Greg Hunt. ...“A reasonable exercise for the government is to ... investigate the matter,” the prime minister told reporters.
National Health and Medical Research Council defends decision after grants attacked as waste of time An Australian research council has given two grants worth $3.3m to research the impact of wind turbines on human health despite concluding last year there was no evidence turbine noise was harmful.
"This is a hotly debated area, with many residents convinced that their health is suffering and other people sure that it's all a figment of their imagination. There is a genuine scientific question here that needs to be solved definitely so we can inform both the public and public policy."
A public hearing has been told a proposed wind farm in the New South Wales central tablelands has been so divisive it has destroyed the fabric of the local community.