Research into health impacts of wind farms “disgraceful”

AGL's Hallett Wind Farms
AGL's Hallett Wind Farms

Australia’s top medical research body has given researches $3.3 million to explore the relationships between wind farms and human health, despite its own year-long study finding no consistent evidence such problems exists.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) gave University of New South Wales Professor Guy Marks $1.94 million to study the health impacts of infrasound – sound waves typically inaudible to humans – generated by wind turbines. The project will evaluate the sleep and physiological disturbance characteristics of wind farm noise, compared to traffic noise.

Associate Professor at Flinders University also secured $1.36 million to investigate whether wind farms disturb sleep and worsen mood and cardiovascular health.

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said existing research in this area is of poor quality and more independent research is needed.

The outcomes of this research will assist in developing policy and public health recommendations regarding wind turbine development and operations in Australia.

Professor of public health at the University of Sydney, Simon Chapman, told The Sydney Morning Herald the latest round of grants are “disgraceful”.

“It’s money literally poured down the drain,” he said.

At least 25 reviews have been conducted internationally, including by the NHMRC, that show very little evidence of direct effects from wind farms.

Effects that did exist could be put down to psycho-social factors, such as pre-existing antipathy to wind farms, resentment by locals who had received no benefit from turbines in their region, and anxiety of perceived health impacts,” Professor Chapman said.