25th November, 2020
By Dr Tim Read; An Extract sourced from
Public Health And Wellbeing Amendment Bill 2020
“Wind turbine syndrome is an example of something that spread rapidly, and it was fanned and encouraged by those who opposed swift and decisive action on climate change”
Dr READ (Brunswick): It is a pleasure to speak on the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment Bill 2020, which is about the process for the community to raise concerns about noise from wind farms in Victoria. Currently those who have concerns about farm noise can raise them under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 as a nuisance complaint, which means that the local council has to investigate them. The bill changes the process so that concerns are raised with the Environment Protection Authority, the EPA, and the EPA investigates them instead. The Greens support this change.
The Public Health and Wellbeing Act nuisance complaint laws are very old, from a time before wind farms were a common and widespread technology in Victoria. The Greens support the community being able to raise genuine concerns about pollution, including noise pollution; however, the way wind farm noise complaints are managed under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act simply does not work in 2020. Councils lack the relevant expertise to investigate complaints and are being overburdened by malicious and unfounded complaints being made by anti-wind farm crusaders. At this point we are just nearing the end of a period where a communicable disease has swept our state, provoking fear and a significant government response. I am not referring here to COVID-19 but to wind farm syndrome.
Wind farm syndrome is a syndrome, like a disease, which became apparent a bit more than 10 years ago and spread from person to person. These kinds of panics about new technologies have existed for centuries. There were concerns about telephone tinnitus in the late 19th century, there were fears that electricity was bad for your health, which delayed the uptake of electricity to houses by many decades, and we have lived through panics about microwaves and televisions and screens. And mobile phones causing brain cancer is interesting. Mobile phones have been in widespread use for about 20 years, but the incidence of brain cancer has flatlined over that time. These panics come and go, but they spread much more quickly now in the digital era. Wind turbine syndrome is an example of something that spread rapidly, and it was fanned and encouraged by those who opposed swift and decisive action on climate change, who, to some extent knowingly, I believe, exploited an unsophisticated population who started to manifest symptoms of anxiety and present them as wind turbine syndrome.
Climate change is still often referred to in media debates as a controversial topic. One contribution to it being regarded as controversial is the sort of side debates like the safety or otherwise of wind farms. And now here we are in the midst of a climate emergency with widespread, severe fires in places that have never burned before—right around the globe, not just talking about Australia. We are dealing with the legacy of at least a decade of inactivity fanned in part by factoids disseminated around wind turbine syndrome. The Greens agree with the government in this bill that it is far more appropriate for concerns about wind farm noise to be managed by the EPA, which has the expertise to determine whether noise is genuinely a nuisance and already regulates noise pollution in Victoria.
As a Greens MP, I recognise the vital role that wind energy will play in transitioning our state to 100 per cent renewable energy. I have heard directly from wind energy businesses who face relentless, unfounded and malicious opposition to wind farms using this old provision in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act. The Australian Wind Alliance, for example, welcomes the changes put forward by this bill, which we will support.
Click on the link provided above to read in full.
See MP’s supporting adversely impacted wind farm neighbours
The Waubra Foundation response to wind turbine syndrome being called a communicable disease here;