Wind farm group goes almost nowhere
Tony Abbott’s expert group on the health impacts of wind turbines has done very little.
After two years and around $500,000, the group still has not decided whether it is necessary to measure low frequency sound or “infrasound” from turbines that some claim cause negative health effects.
The Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines was established in December 2015 and given three years to advise government, but with six months to go it appears the committee is yet to decide on even the fundamentals.
The committee was tasked with outlining methodologies in sound measurement and standards for wind farms.
“The committee is yet to provide this advice,” its annual report says.
“It must first determine exactly what needs to be measured.”
The report says “objective methods” are needed to determine whether “special audible characteristics”, like “excessive amplitude modulation” and tonality.
The committee used its seven video conference meetings last year mostly to discuss research. Four of those sessions focused on the committee’s 2016 annual report, which is eight pages long.
The new annual report reveals the committee's “learned journals” on wind turbine sound had been rejected by scientific publications.
The group produced a paper discussing sound limits for Australian wind farms “based on annoyance”, which was twice rejected by the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
The paper was resubmitted to a different journal, which also knocked it back.
“The receiving editor of the Journal of Sound and Vibration rejected the paper on the basis that it was outside the scope of the journal,” the committee’s minutes read.
Additionally, the committee has found no evidence of adverse health effects.
In 2017, it agreed with a finding from the National Health and Medical Research Council that there was “inconsistent, poor quality direct evidence of an association between sleep disturbance and wind farm noise”.