DeFrock offers the following:
Raymond Hartmonds paper suggests disinformation is likely being used to ‘improperly shape public policy’:
DeFrock agrees that ‘people are still worried about wind turbines‘.
Magpies and eagles aside, the Volcanic Plains, hills and vistas surrounding Ballarat is spectacular. DeFrock supports honouring the history of beloved rural landscapes; the locally known nooks and crannies; and the deep valuing of it’s flora and fauna. The act of Celebrating Landscape may be somewhat reminiscent of the spirit of the perished Titanic Orchestra, steadfastly playing whilst the Titanic sank.
A proportion of the population cannot sleep, maintain good health nor well-being living near industrial sources of noise with quiet backgrounds and lifestyles. Noise regulations and authorities are failing to protect a number of people and Australian rural regions are indisputably being impacted socially, economically and forever changed by wind energy developments.
It is DeFrocks understanding that divided communities and adversely noise or health impacted rural people do not simply ‘move on’; they are either forced to move, are paid off, gagged off, or being willfully ignored and forgotten.
Defrock suggested complaint form;
22 June, 2019
Alex Ford, The Courier
Heavy: A 69-metre long turbine blade parked in Beaufort, on its way to the Stockyard Hill wind farm. Picture: Lachlan Bence
Australia’s independent wind farm commissioner released his 2018 report on Thursday, which indicates there are still worries from people about wind turbines.
As well as recommendations and extensive notes on how companies can best work with communities, Commissioner Andrew Dyer included an analysis of complaints.
The numbers reveal the majority of complaints in 2018 came from Victoria, and most referred to proposed wind farms.
From the 123 total complaints that year, 97 of them were for proposed wind farms, compared to eight for operational wind farms.
There were 57 complaints about amenity, and 18 about health, from across Australia.
Yesterday, the Victorian government hailed the beginning of the Berrybank Wind Farm, near Lismore – a 43-turbine, 180-megawatt project, which has links to a factory in Geelong and a proposed educational facility in Ballarat.
It’s also near the location for the Golden Plains Wind Farm, with its proposed 230 metre tall turbines.
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While residents in rural areas may dislike the aesthetics of wind turbines being built in bucolic hills, the number of complaints shows an interesting trend.
It begs the question, are communities truly ready for these sorts of large scale industrial developments?
New research from Flinders University notes that some noise – amplitude modulation, or rumbling from wind turbine operation – is present 16 per cent of the time in residences up to 3.5 kilometres away.
It also noted it could increase to 22 per cent of the time at night.
The scientists involved said it was more noticeable in rural areas, with less traffic.
Local wind farm projects have held demonstrations, using simulated noise to help residents understand the potential effects – Lal Lal Wind Farms held one at Bungaree in November, at the community’s urging.
The Environment Protection Authority’s noise auditing requirements were also changed in December, to ensure more transparency before and after construction.
However, while the noise is noticeable, and reportedly annoying, major health organisations including the Australian Medical Association and the National Health and Medical Research Council have issued position statements that say wind farms have no adverse effect on human health.
“After careful consideration and deliberation of the body of evidence, NHMRC concludes that there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans,” the NHMRC position paper says.
It does concede more research is needed on the effect of turbines within 1.5 kilometres of residences.
“Individuals residing in the vicinity of wind farms who do experience adverse health or well-being, may do so as a consequence of their heightened anxiety or negative perceptions regarding wind farm developments in their area. Individuals who experience heightened anxiety or diminished health and well-being in the context of local wind farms should seek medical advice,” the position statement reads.
“The reporting of ‘health scares’ and misinformation regarding wind farm developments may contribute to heightened anxiety and community division, and over-rigorous regulation of these developments by state governments.”
Despite these conclusions from independent bodies, claims about “wind turbine syndrome” persist.
It’s a ‘disease’ that only appears to speak English
Professor Simon Chapman
Mr Dyer said often, complainants would not provide details or medical records.
“We’re not dismissing it out of hand, we are taking it very seriously, but it does need to be done in a sensible and pragmatic approach,” he said.
“We encourage people living near wind farms to get proper advice and take the proper course of action.
“If near a proposed wind farm, there’s very little data, if at all, that would warrant them to be concerned.”
An expert on the phenomenon, Professor Simon Chapman from the University of Sydney, is scathing.
“It’s something people can “catch” by hearing about it – for a while I was collecting the wild and woolly symptoms, I got to about 250 of them, even things like haemorrhoids,” he said.
“I used to see if I could find something, a symptom or disease, put a wind turbine in front of it, Google it, and lo and behold, it was being caused by wind turbines in the area.”
People might be worried, but the evidence wasn’t there, he added – this is reflected in the commissioner’s report.
“There’s kind of a big gap between what these activist groups are saying, health problems, and what is happening in the communities where these turbines have been put up,” Professor Chapman said.
“If you go over to Europe, where you see wind farms the length and breadth of countries, they’re everywhere, you can’t miss them, and these concerns are almost unheard of in those countries – I made the point in my book, it’s a “disease” that only appears to speak English.”
Subjective opinions about hundred-metre tall propellers sticking out of the ground in otherwise rural areas vary widely.
Many people moved to the area where wind turbines have either been installed or proposed because of its visual beauty, and become concerned their property values may drop, among other concerns.
For some communities, this has provided an opportunity to celebrate the landscape before construction begins, creating a new appreciation for the area.
Turbines are also visible to neighbours for kilometres around.
Wind farm companies, as part of their permit requirements, offer visual screening programs to provide landscaping to block the turbines out.
Some landholders have said the plans are not what they were expecting, or they had changed during construction.
These changes are part of an issue that Mr Dyer notes in his report, as many projects are initiated by a developer, which gets the permit approved, before selling it to a separate developer.
His report, on page 25, says disagreements can “fracture” communities, and he encouraged more community engagement from companies.
Interestingly, one aspect of wind farm construction which has attracted more complaints last year is trespass, as more giant components make their way from ports to rural sites.
Modern wind turbines usually have three tower components, three blades, and a nascelle, hub, and generator, and some of these are so large street signs and traffic lights along the route need to be temporarily removed.
It gets trickier on country roads and access tracks, and Mr Dyer recommended companies have agreements in place with landholders along the route who could be affected.
More recently, concerns about water supply contamination from dust kicked up from construction have been raised, while other people find themselves surprised at the size of the finished product.
Ongoing worries about wildlife have caused some projects to be rearranged, with Golden Plains Wind Farm taken to the Supreme Court regarding brolga nesting.
In total, since Mr Dyer took up the position in 2016, the number of complaints has increased as more wind farms begin construction or are proposed, but the types have changed.
Noise and health were the biggest concerns in 2016, with 55 and 46 complaints each, but in 2018, they have reduced to 38 and 18 respectively.
Both Mr Dyer and Professor Chapman said it was important for people to do their own research, with reputable sources, and come to their own conclusions.
“It is a change for many folks on the landscape, but people move on,” Mr Dyer said.