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Minister must regulate wind farm health impacts

21, May 2012

The Australian Environment Foundation today called on the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Brad Hazzard to guarantee no resident would suffer adverse health impacts from adjoining wind farms once his new approval guidelines were implemented.

The Foundation wrote to all NSW government MP’s last week calling on them to urge Minister Hazzard not to proceed further with the proposed guidelines until they are supported by medical and acoustical research designed to determine this issue once and for all.

“We believe it would be unwise in the extreme for the Minister to adopt the current draft proposals when the nature of emitted noise and the degree of impact on health is unknown because of the current poor understanding of the variable characteristics of noise emitted by turbines” said AEF executive director Max Rheese.

“The new noise levels permitted by the draft guidelines may be satisfactory, but this is unknown without medical studies to determine the degree of impact on people’s health.

“This is the whole point of medical and acoustical studies as recommended by the bipartisan senate committee and subsequently supported by all stakeholders.  We know from recent peer-reviewed papers there is an impact on health, we now need to determine the degree.

“Wind farm guidelines in various jurisdictions stipulate various noise levels that are not to be exceeded, without any evidential medical knowledge of what degree of impact these noise levels and special noise characteristics derived from wind turbine operation have on people.  This is what the minister must determine for the guidelines to have any integrity” said Mr Rheese.

Analysis by the Foundation demonstrated that 41 rural NSW communities will be at risk of adverse health effects when all currently approved, but not yet constructed wind farms are operational.  The magnitude of that risk and potential public health consequences are a significant issue that requires a more rigorous precautionary approach.

Further detailed information can be viewed here

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