Members of the clean energy sector have slammed a new report concerning the negative effects of wind farms on the health of nearby residents as unscientific and biased.
A new report on the impacts of a wind farm in Victoria has lent considerable ammunition to lobbyists opposed to wind farms on the grounds of human health concerns.
The study undertaken by The Acoustic Group towards the end of 2014 examined the potential health impacts of the noise produced by the Cape Bridgwater wind farm situated in the south-west of Victoria.
The conclusions of the study prompted The Australian to report in a front page article that its “groundbreaking” findings concluded that “people living near wind farms face a greater risk of suffering health complaints caused by the low-frequency noise generated by turbines.”
Surprisingly, however, the study was commissioned by Pacific Hydro, the owner and developer of the Cape Bridgwater wind farm.
Despite its good intentions, criticism has been levelled at Pacific Hydro for making the error of enlisting of acoustician Steven Cooper to conduct the study. Cooper has long been involved with lobby groups opposed to wind farms on the grounds that the infrasound they emit can cause illness.
Cooper has himself in the past cast doubt on the legitimacy of other studies that invalidate such health concerns, and suggested that regulatory changes are needed to address any existing noise problems.
Members of both industry and the academic community have slammed the report as falling well short of scientific rigour, pointing out that the sample set is used was both statistically insignificant and pre-biased.
“Noise measurements were taken at just three houses, and a small number of self-nominated people participated who had previously made complaints about the wind farm’s operation,” said Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh.
Marsh pointed to a barrage of both domestic and overseas research that had failed to find any evidence of wind farms having a direct, negative impact on human health, as well as extensive legal precedent within Australia concluded the same.
“In Australia, multiple reviews into the operation of wind farms have been carried out in the last three years, which have all given the wind industry a clean bill of health,” said Marsh. “Many of the issues relating to wind farms and health have already been tested in court cases across the country, all of which have concluded in favour of wind energy.”