Noisy Turbines Debate – Whine from ‘English speakers’

Only English speakers seem to experience so-called wind tur- bine syndrome, a public health expert has asserted to  dispute growing  complaints  against wind farms.

Facing a Senate inquiry yes- terday, Sydney University Pro- fessor Simon Chapman said if it was the case wind farms caused sickness, why had people who had been living near turbines in other countries for 20 years not become ill?  But anti-turbine advocates said ailments such as nausea, headaches and sleep- lessness were real and caused by low  frequency sound and vibra- tions from wind farms.

The latest round of  hearings come three  weeks after  Tony Abbott attacked wind turbines as “visually awful” and noisy, and created the new role of wind farm commissioner to pass com- munity complaints about the in- dustry  on   to   the  States.  The National   Health   and   Medical Research Council earlier  this year found there was “no consis- tent    evidence”   wind   farms adversely     affected    human health but urged further studies.

Professor  Chapman  —  who was paid several years ago by  a wind energy company for expert advice in a legal case — told sen- ators   that   “negative   expecta- tions” about wind farms could translate into symptoms of  tension and anxiety.

“It  mirrors many past historical health panics about new technologies that have included the ordinary telephone, trains, television sets, electric blankets, powerlines, computers, mobile phones and towers and today’s wi-fi  and smart electricity meters,” he said.

“How is it that non-anglo- phone nations with large-scale wind farms like Germany, Den- mark, Spain, Portugal, Nether- lands and Sweden there is little to no history of complaints.

“It  is, as some people have observed,  a  phenomenon which perhaps speaks English.”

German wind farm company Senvion said  it  had  installed more than 6000  turbines  “and we’ve not had a single reported case of  sickness resulting from the operation of a wind turbine”.

But Waubra Foundation chief Sarah Laurie, a former doctor, said there had been “systemic regulatory  failure”  by   health and environmental authorities to investigate and act decisively to avoid serious health damage.

By: Andrew Tillett, Canberra

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