Wind turbines have always faced a level of controversy but have managed to remain in favour worldwide. The UK has some of the world’s largest wind farm investment and Australia has long shown its support of the clean energy-generating technology.
However, an article published in the Australian regarding wind turbines and their alleged health side effects has re-stirred the metaphorical pot and brought wind power back into industry focus.
The article cites a ‘growing body of evidence of adverse health impacts associated with noise generated by wind farms’ according to Queensland Health. The Sydney Morning Herald has also reported similar health risks, with a profile of Cullerin Ranges local Michelle Edwards, who speaks of the health issues she has suffered since the implementation of an Origin Energy Wind Farm near her sheep and cattle farm.
“Since Origin Energy’s wind farm began operating in 2009 near the Cullerin sheep and cattle farm she runs with husband Brett, Mrs Edwards says she has lost her balance while riding,” reads the article by John Thistleton. “She says her vision is blurred, she is losing sleep and feels as if her stomach has battery acid in it.”
However, a number of major entities have struck out against the initial publication the Queensland Health ‘diagnosis’ of wind turbines. One such entity is the National Health and Medical Research Council, which has released a public statement suggesting there is no evidence supporting claims that the noise from wind turbines causes health problems.
The report states that:
“Reported health concerns primarily relate to infrasound (sound that is generally inaudible to the human ear) generated by wind turbines. The World Health Organisation states that: ‘There is no reliable evidence that sounds below the hearing threshold produce physiological or psychological effects’. A recent expert panel review in North America found no evidence that audible or subaudible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effect. The principal human response to perceived infrasound is annoyance.
A study of three UK wind farms also supports this conclusion, finding that sound associated with modern wind turbines is not a source which will result in noise levels which may be injurious to the health of a wind farm neighbour.”
Andrew Thompson, Managing Director of Acciona Energy Australia has said claims of health concerns with regard to wind turbine use an ‘argument’ as opposed to a debate, suggesting that evidence of wind farm-related illness is simply not there.
While there is still no solid evidence to support or resolutely counter wind farm sickness, a spotlight has now been placed on the issue that is sure to heat up controversy from both opponents of the claims and those who support them.