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The web of vested interests behind the anti-wind farm lobby

Following a July investigation by environmental correspondent Sandi Keane , a network analysis of links between the principal voices involved in demonising wind farms in Australia has been circulating in recent weeks.

The network diagram shows connections between some of the principal individuals who have been vocal in opposing wind farm development in Australia, several organisations that are at the forefront of the opposition, the Institute of Public Affairs and its love-child the Australian Environment Foundation and the Victorian Liberal Party.

In August, the Baillieu government announced it would be amending legislation to require all wind turbines to be sited further than two kilometres from any residence.  The push is now on to get the NSW O’Farrell government do the same thing. The decision effectively guts the wind industry’s immediate prospects of further development in Victoria with wind industry insiders predicting that money will rush into South Australia, where already 21% of the state’s energy is sourced from wind.

(Click on the image for the full, readable version)

At the base of the diagram are various wind farms that have been targeted by those opposed and the connections with protest meetings that have been held in recent years. The often cosy relationships are never better illustrated than by looking at the links between the Waubra Foundation, the Australian Landscape Guardians  and Victorian mining investor Peter Mitchell. Mitchell has uranium and coal seam gas interests and has spent a lifetime in the fossil fuel extraction industry.

Mitchell is the Waubra Foundation’s founding chairman and at least until February 2011, was also chairman of the Australian Landscape Guardians’ Science and Economics Committee.

The Waubra Foundation, the Landscape Guardians and Mitchell’s investment company Lowell Capital all have the same post office box, yet the “medical director” of the foundation, Sarah Laurie, wrote recently on a blog: ”The Waubra Foundation is not a front for the Landscape Guardians … Peter Mitchell  … has kindly made his mailbox available for the use of the foundation, as we have extremely limited financial resources.”

Things must be tough: a post office box costs about 50 cents a day.

Amazingly, the Waubra Foundation website states that Laurie has an MD (research) degree from Flinders University. She does not: she has bachelor’s degrees in medicine from Flinders, but is unregistered to practice as a doctor. An MD is a postgraduate degree awarded to accomplished researchers for a body of published work.

One of Waubra Foundation’s  governing principles states: “At all times to establish and maintain complete independence from government, industry and advocacy groups for or against wind turbines.” Its chairman Peter Mitchell is a strident opponent to the Stockyard Hill wind farm (which borders his weekender). Sarah Laurie ties herself in knots claiming that she doesn’t oppose the proposed Crystal Brook wind farm in her backyard, yet she’s devoted the past 15 months to fighting wind farms.

Fellow director Tony Hodgson is a founder of Friends of Collector, a protest organisation in the mould of the Landscape Guardians, he’s working hard to scuttle a wind farm adjacent to his weekender. Director Kathy Russell opposes the Mount Pollock wind farm in her backyard and is vice-president of the Australian Landscape Guardians, vice-president of the Victorian Landscape Guardians, spokeswoman for the Western Plains, Mount Pollock Landscape Guardians and the Barrabool Hills Landscape Guardians. The Landscape Guardians appears to have more office positions than members.

A front group bereft of credibility, we might wonder how the Waubra Foundation garnered the support of Michael Wooldridge (federal health minister under Howard) to also sit on their board. Wooldridge opposes the proposed Bald Hills wind farm, which borders his family’s farming interests in Gippsland.  The Bald Hills project was almost scuttled by the Guardian’s heartfelt concern for the orange-bellied parrot.

A ban was overturned when it was shown that the whole wind farm might endanger one theoretical parrot every 667 years.

Having found limited success using protected species to prevent wind farms, the anti-windies settled on a new weapon, a manufactured health crisis. But last month, international journal Environmental Health Review published a review of all evidence about the proposition that wind farms cause health problems in those exposed. Like at least four other previous reviews, this latest review concluded:

While it is acknowledged that noise from wind turbines can be annoying to some and associated with some reported health effects (e.g. sleep disturbance) … given that annoyance appears to be more strongly related to visual cues and attitude than to noise itself, self reported health effects of people living near wind turbines are more likely attributed to physical manifestation from an annoyed state than from wind turbines themselves. In other words, it appears that it is the change in the environment that is associated with reported health effects and not a turbine-specific variable like audible noise or infrasound.

Regardless of its cause, a certain level of annoyance in a population can be expected (as with any number of projects that change the local environment) and the acceptable level is a policy decision to be made by elected officials and their government representatives where the benefits of wind power are weighted against their cons.”

So people who are annoyed or affected by wind farms are those who basically don’t like them and find the sight and sound of them upsetting, in much the same way that some people object to traffic, aircraft or street noise while others are indifferent to it. The idea that in themselves, they are intrinsically toxic to those exposed, has poor support in the scientific research literature.

The anti-wind farm movement regards such conclusions as profanity but has had a hard time getting the scientific community to take them seriously. For example,  look up “wind turbine syndrome” (a new “disease” invented by a US general practitioner) in PubMed , and you’ll find zero entries. And if you look up “vibroacoustic disease”, the name for a new disease caused by inaudible, invisible sound waves put out by evil wind turbines, you’ll find papers by staff at a minor Lisbon university where the authors all repeatedly cite each other’s papers, but few others ever do.

Australia’s commitment to renewable energy faces formidable opposition from interests who think climate change is  “crap” and who will be affected by the carbon tax.  China, India, the US, Canada and many European nations are storming ahead with wind energy development. If flakey arguments about wind farms being harmful are not exposed, Australia will be tying one hand behind its back on the path to a greener economy.

*Tomorrow: the eight papers that the anti-wind farm lobby describe as “groundbreaking” —  pity about the “peer review” …

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  • 1
    Ian McKendry
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Good to see detailed and well-researched commentary on the frothing dishonesty of the anti wind farm lobby. Such ‘tell it like it is’ refuting of the mystical rubbish solemnly put forward by the anti brigade is surprisingly rare. Yes, of course it is mainly the usual Australian whining and NIMBY-ism at play yet again, however disguised as pseudo- science.

    The most hilarious example was on display on 7.30 last night. Suffocatingly self-righteous farmers in opposition to a wind farm because the sheep are sensitive creatures and it will affect the quality of the wool! Spare me. Of course, it does also leave open the judgement of the producers of 7.30 in seeing the story as interesting or newsworthy. Maybe they saw it as beautiful satire - you certainly couldn’t make this stuff up.

    Ian McKendry

  • 2
    Russell
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    No matter how worthy” such investigations are, they are besides the point. You will never be able to “debunk” the opposition, because it defies rationality. Similarly the Four Corners program a free months ago, which spent a lot of time trying to rubbish the claims that the turbines caused “headaches.”

    Interesting, but irrelevant..

    The real problem here is the Nimby-ism which is rampant through the inner city urban area of Australia, and now the rural regions as well You will never defeat their issues with argument, the selfish, emotionalism behind it is totally impenetrable to reason.

    The rise of Nimby-ism in the cities has been fostered and is encouraged by the Greens. In fact they campaign constantly on Nimby issues. At the recent Sydney Film Festival screening of a movie called “Windfall” about the impact of a wind farm on an upstate New York community, I was struck by how the opponents of the turbines were all what we would call “greenie” tree-changers.

    Affluent, educated, articulate environmental activists. Just like the ones protesting CSG in the inner city now.

    Those who signed up for turbines on their properties all needed the income. The film wryly noted that in the more affluent neighbouring communities, wind farms didn’t even get past first base.

  • 3
    Mark Duffett
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    …tying one hand behind its back on the path to a greener economy…”

    You’d better hope metaphors aren’t covered by the Geneva Convention, because that’s torture.

    Wind farms aren’t evil, they’re just not all that useful: bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/. There are fundamental reasons why a point of diminishing returns is hit very rapidly once a given power grid tries to go above a ceiling of about 20% contribution from the things.

  • 4
    Modus Ponens
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    What is most interesting is that those who received rental payments for the turbines never suffer from any symptoms that those who receive no payments do.

    It would be interesting if neighbouring property owners were entitled to small royalty payments, whether the anxiety induced headaches and blood pressure would be alleviated…?

  • 5
    Steven Warren
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    From what I have seen in reports your claims that SA “sources” 21% of their power from wind may be a little bit of a furphy.

    21% of their capacity may be wind (which would be fairly close to it’s coal capacity) yet while practically all of their coal would be purchased, a large percentage of that wind wouldn’t.

    In 2005-2006 back when 10% of SA’s capacity was wind, they actually purchased no wind power generation at all (or at least a statistically insignificant amount).

    With the price parity effect of the ETS it is more likely they will use wind power now, but having the capacity to use something is not the same as actually using it.

    This just reinforces your point more not less though.

  • 6
    Richard Mackie
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    response to Mark Duffet:
    The Brave New Climate article you reference is widely acknowledged as based on an attack on wind by the Idependant Petroleum Association based in Colarado. They make some rather outlandish claims and baseless assertions about fossil fuel generator ramp-rates. The web site also rather fairly published a response to the article you referenced. Look here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/09/01/wind-power-emissions-counter/
    The reality is a similar result to what we found in South Australia. Look here: http://www.windlab.com/sites/default/files/20110915_SouthAustralianWindPower_DO_LHO.pdf
    Wind farms directly displace fossil fuel use (wind wind is blowing coal or gas is not being burned) but also, pushes the dirty plant (old coal) out of the system first. Wind has shown to actually reduce emissions more than first thought.

    response to Steven Warren:
    Your comments don’t make sense. All power produced in the National Electricity Market is bought by someone.
    As well as being 21% of nameplate capacity, we found that wind in South Australia also produced about 21% of the energy last year. This means the capacity factor of the wind farms is about the same as the capacity factor of the rest of the system. Wind energy works.

  • 7
    Captain Planet
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    20 % is a pretty useful contribution, Mark.

  • 8
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Great piece, Simon. There are fascinating connections there and I’m keen to see if any more information comes to light….

    I’m very disappointed by the NHMRC’s response to this furphy. When the NHMRC ran a consultation on this issue recently, it was structured as an equal argument - half science that Simon describes and half the pseudo-science of the Waubra Foundation.

    The only MP invited was Alby Shultz (Lib, NSW). It is absurd to have Alby at a forum on the science of health because he is anti science. He has described climate science as Nazi science.

  • 9
    David Clarke
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    I happen to know Sarah Laurie. We both live at Crystal Brook, a small SA country town; when she was practicing she was, for a time, my GP. I believe she is sincere and well meaning, but badly mistaken and being used by the Landscape Guardians.

    There are people who believe wind turbines make them ill. Lots of them have told their tales to Dr Laurie. Fair enough. But there is no evidence that it is the turbines that cause the illness; all the evidence that I’ve seen points to anxiety and fear. And unfortunately Dr Laurie is increasing that.

    If anyone doubts the 20% plus that wind power contributes to SA’s power I suggest that they read ElectraNet’s SA Annual Planning Report, 2011. Which also says that “Studies show that the existing transmission network has the capacity to enable up to approximately 2300 MW of wind generation in South Australia before generation exceeds regional demand and interconnector export capacity.” That is, about double what it is now.

  • 10
    Stevo the Working Twistie
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Aren’t the executives of big mining and oil and traditional power companies allowed to care for the little birdies and struggling farmers? “We’re behind you all the way in stopping these ghastly, unnatural wind turbines. By the way, do you have room for a fracking plant on the south paddock?”

  • 11
    Microseris
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    The usual suspects and axis of evil: Liberal, IPA and the obligatory fossil fuel representative. No right wing nutters worried about the landscape issues or health effects for a potential new coal fired plant in the Latrobe Valley. The proposed location has hundreds if not thousands of residents within 2km, whilst the effects and carcinogens will spread well beyond. The only thing stopping the project at the moment is the fact they can’t generate the necessary funds from the market and have to rely on provision of funds from governments. No right of veto for the residents.

    The market knows a turkey when they see one.

  • 12
    Mark Duffett
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    @Captain Planet, I don’t dispute that, but there are a hell of a lot of people out there who blithely assume we can sail through to 100% renewables off the back of wind turbines (to employ a tortured metaphor of my own).

    @David Clarke, sorry I didn’t make clear the 20% refers to a sustained, long term contribution levels, not instantaneous ones. SA can only go nominally above that because of its existing connections to the wider SE Australian grid.

  • 13
    michael r james
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Mark, you appear to be a closet Luddite (who has come out), a bit odd for a technical and scientifically literate person (apologies, for some reason I never quite remember your profession, geological engineer?).

    Are you not aware (it is probably on BNC?) that the Gemasolar solar-thermal plant in Spain was officially inaugurated last week (it has in fact been operating for a while). It provides power 24/7 with up to 15 hours storage (via salt going between crystal/ liquid states). Yes, it is a small start. But it is only the beginning, and in all likelihood other technologies will turn out to be more efficient and more practical for large-scale energy storage.

    I am a firm believer that it is only a matter of time before the energy storage issue is solved technologically. (Which of course requires it to be solved economically.) Most of the renewable energy technologies benefit from or require it (though ironically geothermal could feasibly make it redundant) and they all will be able to draw upon central storage facilities when the proper grid and support facilities are in place.

  • 14
    michael r james
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Simon Chapman wrote “If flakey arguments about wind farms being harmful are not exposed, Australia will be tying one hand behind its back on the path to a greener economy.”

    Alas, on ABC 7.30 last night we saw why that program is in decline. Its wind farm story was purely “descriptive” in that it merely presented the whingers and a few locals who were in favour, but hardly touched any real investigation into the fundamental issue. This approach is exactly what Leigh Sales claimed they would not do, ie. not follow the empty populist path of the commercial “current affairs” shows. A lot of time was given over to a pair of rich (possibly very rich, given their contracts with Zegna — Paul Keating’s fave suit designer) sheep farmers who worry that their sensitive sheep will stop growing wool if the planned wind farm is allowed to go ahead. It was beyond parody really.(One almost expected Michael Palin to appear claiming to John Cleese, that this sheep was a dead sheep!)

  • 15
    Gratton Wilson
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    The very sensitive merino sheep that produced such ultra fine wool should be examined in their entirety. The sheep in question are apparently “shedded sheep” that is they are permanently enclosed in pens inside a shed, they do not graze but are fed special nutritional pellets that may include a considerable amount of sawdust so that no matter how much they ate they would not put on condition - they have nothing else to do but eat. They have no contact with the outdoors; never see the sky, they may become neurotic and bite the fleece off each other out of sheer boredom. They wear sheep coats all the time, to keep the fleece clean and to protect the main fleece from being torn off by other sheep. Their diet is very strictly controlled to keep the protein level low, thus the fleece “fine” but not so fine that the staple becomes “tender” and thus to break.
    No wonder they wouldn’t let anyone inside their shed to take photographs of their shedded sheep. Fine wool is the desirable outcome of merino breeders. Some sheep are bred fine, other sheep are fed fine - that is they are kept on starvation rations and housed in sheds.

  • 16
    AR
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Knock me down with feather! hooda thunk it? Astro turfing and vested interests! I’z shocked! Shocked I tells ya!

  • 17
    Muzza
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I just checked the Waubra Foundation website, but could find no reference to the MD description linked to Sarah Laurie that Simon Chapman speaks about. However, my main point is that the wind turbine debate has become so polarized that truth has gone out of the window. It’s clear that there are health issues related to wind turbines if one searches the web, reads the recent Senate inquiry report, follows up on medical professionals with experience in the area etc. But Chapman attempts to cast anyone who raises issues about wind turbines and health as a climate change denialist. Unfortunately, this is an all too common response from the Greens as well. Could someone for example, be supportive of various forms of solar energy, but have concerns about wind energy because of the associated adverse health effects? Of course! Could someone be concerned about climate change and the need for carbon reduction measures, and at the same time have concerns about wind power and its adverse health effects? Of course! Could someone be against coal seam gas, but have concerns about wind power? Of course! Big business interests are behind the industrial wind turbine push too, but there are many reasons why it may not be a good form of renewable energy to pursue. Chapman’s vendetta reminds me of the Shakespeare quote: “The [man] lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Further, as I understand it public health is about prevention and the precautionary principle. For a person with the title of professor of public health, the latter characteristics seem to be in dangerously short supply. As for the mass hysteria argument, this has been used by psychiatrists such as Simon Wessely to blame the victim, by attempting to suggest that some in chronic pain suffer as they do from psychological causes, rather than from a direct biological cause. If one does a wiki search on Simon Wessely, one finds that the Times of 6 August 2011 describes him as “the most hated doctor in Britain”, along with other unsavoury connections.

  • 18
    Bill Parker
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Is everyone going quite mad here? Sensitive merino sheep?

    Hasn’t anyone got the wit to do proper acoustic measurements over accurately measured distances from a set of wind turbines and generate some data that say its THIS or THAT? By acoustic data I mean in the air and in the ground. Just how far from a wind farm is the background threshold changed?

    This is starting to be fading curtain country.

    If do not like the LOOK, that’s different, but let’s have a modicum of scientific data. Or has that already been derived and buried?

    Mark D, the sensible end of the renewable energy end has never talked about 100% wind. It will always be a mix of technologies. The biggest challenge is to manage the grid responses to a variety of intermittent and variable inputs.

  • 19
    Peter Clunes
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Ms Laurie was quick to update her website and remove the MD postnominals. For those who want to see evidence, it’ll be here for a few days: http://tinyurl.com/sarahmd

    If you were there a few months ago you would have seen her claim that she holds various fellowships. After strong words she inserted “Past” in front.

    It’s tempting to feel sorry for her for being so utterly used by the anti-wind mafia. But she’s known about these links for a long time, and nothing stops her from taking the stage around Australia and scaring communities that wind farms will give you heart disease and diabetes. Privately she tells her extensive mailing list to amp up fears about fire risk now that summer is coming.

    She’s even told folk in hushed tones that wind farms give off “stray voltages”. Nutty stuff.

    She’s an activist, not a medical professional.

    For a further look at her ethics breaches, check out the lively discussion here: http://yes2renewables.org/2011/09/12/disclosure-needed-on-anti-wind-farm-groups-motives/

  • 20
    Peter Clunes
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    @BILL PARKER yes, the research has been done. The whole infrasound “debate” is a red herring.

    Here’s the engineering study showing nothing sinister in the audio spectrum even at 305m (1000ft): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/958819/Papers/Low%20frequency%20noise%20and%20infrasound%20from%20wind%20turbines%20%28INCE%202011%29.pdf

    Here’s the study that explains the sociogenic “Wind Turbine Syndrome”:
    http://www.ehjournal.net/content/10/1/78/abstract

    And if you want to laugh and cry at the same time, check out this document by the husband of Dr Nina Pierpont, the first person to describe “Wind Turbine Syndrome”:
    http://nosydenhamwindfarm.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/how-to-fight-big-wind.pdf

    Regarding merino sheep, the greatest quote has got to have been:
    “But the sheep are nervous, seriously nervous”

  • 21
    Roger Clifton
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    @Michael R James - Are you saying that there are no Luddites around here? If that is the case, let’s go straight to nuclear, and stop mucking around with unreliables.

  • 22
    Dave Burraston
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    A piece by Dr. Carl V Phillips on Simon Chapman :

    Simon Chapman, a professor of public health at the University of Sydney, wrote a really bad commentary about wind turbines, employing the utter confidence while having no idea what he is talking about.”

    http://ep-ology.blogspot.com/2011/05/unhealthful-news-138-another-side-of.html

  • 23
    Steven Warren
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    @ Roger The biggest problem with nuclear is it is actually currently more expensive per gigawatt than wind or solar.

    Given the tears over $10 a week we have now the nuclear lobby is basically living in dreamland if they think we are going to switch to nuclear power any time soon.

  • 24
    Dave Burraston
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Here is an excellent & recent paper by Dr Daniel Shepherd et al, (Auckland University of Technology, NZ.

    http://www.windaction.org/documents/33166

    Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health-related quality of life
    September 27, 2011 by Daniel Shepherd, David McBride, David Welch, Kim N Dirks and Erin M Hill
    Noise & Health, September-October 2011, 13:54,333-9
    Abstract:

    We report a cross-sectional study comparing the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of individuals residing in the
    proximity of a wind farm to those residing in a demographically matched area sufficiently displaced from wind turbines.
    The study employed a nonequivalent comparison group posttest-only design. Self-administered questionnaires, which
    included the brief version of the World Health Organization quality of life scale, were delivered to residents in two
    adjacent areas in semirural New Zealand. Participants were also asked to identify annoying noises, indicate their degree
    of noise sensitivity, and rate amenity. Statistically significant differences were noted in some HRQOL domain scores,
    with residents living within 2 km of a turbine installation reporting lower overall quality of life, physical quality of life,
    and environmental quality of life. Those exposed to turbine noise also reported significantly lower sleep quality, and
    rated their environment as less restful. Our data suggest that wind farm noise can negatively impact facets of HRQOL.”

    Dr Shepherd also made a very good submission to the recent Senate Inquiry (Sub 540 attachment):

    http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/clac_ctte/impact_rural_wind_farms/submissions.htm

    He also had a paper in the International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise (WTN2011):

    Wind turbine noise and health-related quality of life of nearby residents: a cross-sectional study in New Zealand.

    One of the findings published by the conference website is:
    http://www.windturbinenoise2011.org/
    “The main effect of daytime wind turbine noise is annoyance. The night time effect is sleep disturbance. These may lead to stress related illness in some people. Work is required in understanding why low levels of wind turbine noise may produce affects which are greater than might be expected from their levels.”

    All this research has been pointed out to Simon Chapman on numerous occasions, and yet even with an international conference attended by industry & academics alike, Chapman seems not to be interested. Annoyance is a primary health effect.

    Another 2 papers from WTN2011 worth looking at are:

    The audibility of low frequency wind turbine noise.” Swinbanks MA

    Selection of outcome measures in assessing sleep disturbance from wind turbine noise.” Hanning C and Nissenbaum M

    This is a 2 yearly conference, next one is 2013. If noise was not a problem, why is there a 2 yearly conference trying to understand it?

    And regarding NIMBY, for those who still think this a justifiable tactic of name calling & bullying, I suggest you read :

    http://geography.exeter.ac.uk/beyond_nimbyism/

    &
    Dr Richard Hindmarsh, Snr Associate Professor, Griffith University: “Wind Farms and Community Engagement in Australia: A Cricital Analysis for Policy Learning”. (available on the Senate Inquiry website, Additional Information Received Number 30)

  • 25
    michael r james
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    @GRATTON WILSON at 7:16 pm

    Thanks for that. Your detail fills in the gaping holes in the story left by ABC 7.30. I wondered about the bit when the farmers refused ABC to photograph inside the sheds. It makes the story about possible impact of the wind turbines even more specious, if that is possible. (And was that stock footage the ABC showed of happy sheep gamboling over the verdant hills! Report it to ACMA.)

    @ROGER CLIFTON 1 at 8:37 pm

    Groan. I have written/published reams on this. Nuclear is not the new technology here, it is the old established one. Fifty years and it is still promising the same old same old (cheaper, efficient, quick to build, solutions to the waste and proliferation issues……..not). Indeed it is a Luddite who would say we should close down all renewables (as BNC argues) in favour of an all-out nuclear build. To put the kind of funds that nuclear requires (real world price check: Obama’s loan guarantee of $8B for twin nukes; total cost probably >$11B; this is the industry’s own figures and explains why the loan guarantees are still not enough to get the companies to commit to build the things).

    So, Roger Luddite Clifton, you do not believe the issues with renewables (cost, efficiency, energy storage) are solvable? Who is the Luddite here? (that is a rhetorical question, Rog.)

    @MUZZA at 7:54 pm
    ” It’s clear that there are health issues related to wind turbines if one searches the web..”

    Good one. It was on the web so it must be true? I think you muzza left your thinking cap off. I am a PhD research scientist and am totally unconvinced by any of that so-called evidence. As Chapman says, anything published in peer-reviewed scientific literature says there is no statistically meaningful untoward medical outcomes attributable to the actual operation of the turbines.

    @BILL PARKER at 8:16 pm

    Bill, a lot has been done (though maybe more needs to be done) and it has been published. There is no medical adverse effect. Unless of course it is a conspiracy between thousands of scientists and doctors. Doh, of course how could I be so dumb, it is a grand world-wide conspiracy between those same bloody scientists that are trying for world government (geeks rule, s’pose).

  • 26
    Muzza
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Ha! Being a PhD research scientist confers no great connection with what is true. Consider the recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for example. Here is a quote from the ABC story on him: Thirty years ago Daniel Shechtman discovered quasicrystals - a new form of crystal that had a structure many scientists said at the time was impossible.

    For years his peers rejected and ridiculed the findings, with the head of his laboratory handing him a textbook in crystallography and suggesting he read it.

    At one point Professor Shechtman was even branded a disgrace and asked to leave his research group at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.

    But since then the Professor’s quasicrystals have helped change the way chemists conceive of solid matter.

    There is in fact evidence about adverse health effects related to wind turbines, and peer reviewed studies in any case depend on who is peer reviewing what and where.

  • 27
    Muzza
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Are peer reviewed studies on renewable energy reliable?

    Are peer reviewed studies on nuclear energy reliable?

    If one is reliable, but not the other, why is this is so?

  • 28
    Peter Clunes
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    @MUZZA where is the peer reviewed evidence of wind turbine syndrome?

  • 29
    Muzza
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    One lead in to this literature is a recent issue of the Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society (August 2011) 31 (4) peer reviewed journal by Sage. It has a number of authors researching in this area. Follow up on each of those authors as well, with their other papers e.g. Dr Bob Thorne also gave a presentation at the NHMRC Scientific Forum on Wind Farms in June 2011 - you can google it to find it.

  • 30
    john2066
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Typical NIMBY whiners, you can stand under the turbines and barely hear them; the only thing these people want to ‘guard’ are their house values.

    There is scope, however, for sensible revenue sharing on new wind farms between people in a certain radius and the turbines.

  • 31
    john2066
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    These idiot NIMBYS will be claiming cancer from the turbines next. If they are so concerned about bird life, why dont they stop driving their cars, as far more birds are killed by cars then have ever been killed by wind farms.

    These people are beyond belief. Its time the vast silent majority who support wind turbines tell them to shut up.

  • 32
    s_keane1
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Just returned from 5 weeks in the UK where wind farms are aplenty. Many of them nudging right up against residential areas. Needless to say I was anxious to hear about the epidemic of “Wind Turbine Syndrome” that surely must be sweeping the land… but sadly all I got was pathetic looks reserved for what the British must think of as one of the “Weird Mob”.

    I also took the opportunity to ask about that serial eco-offender, Christopher Monckton. I drilled my well-read, university mates in London, several doctors on holiday in Cornwall, a couple of fellow journos in Scotland but, alas, alack, the man is UNKNOWN…. Not even as LORD Monckton.

    As I returned to the blunt end of the world, where more than half the population want Tony Abbott as our Prime Minister, climate skeptics roam free, and merino sheep tilt nervously at windmills, I wondered what has happened to plain old commonsense that we Aussies used to be so proud of.

  • 33
    michael r james
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Muzza, your examples are the opposite of what you want to say or show. Sometimes a discovery that is counter to the prevailing paradigm will be rejected, or considered improbable. However in the crystals story, he in fact published it in peer reviewed journals and other scientists still thought it was nonsense. But the point of such publication — indeed the top requirement for publication of conclusions based on experimental data is that you must provide enough detail to allow an equivalent scientist/research lab to reproduce the experiment and so either confirm or reject the results. This was what was done and eventually multiple other labs did reproduce his results and it slowly became accepted. That is how it is supposed to work. Another recent example is of the neutrinos travelling faster than light: the scientist have published their experiments so that others can attempt to either see the error (which is what everyone expects) or in fact reproduce it. Of course peer-review is also to check that the experimental approach seems valid and that the conclusions can be logically made from the data.

    And you obviously have no idea of how peer review works. But look I really do not want to adopt a tone here. (sorry about the earlier sneer, it came from frustration) It is not easy for a non-scientist to understand; however please try. And do not make uninformed silly comments about it, as if it was like publishing a novel of fiction or a frontpage article in The Australian.

    And I have no idea of what you mean by studies on nuclear energy being reliable?

    But, as it happens, if you google (or go to PubMed) economics + nuclear power + “Dr Michael James” you will find my article published in the Age a few years back, but also an impressive bunch of technical papers in scientific journals. OK, let me fess up, it is true, but those scientific papers are by another Dr Michael James, a young Texan punk whose career is nuclear economics! (I am a biochemist/molecular geneticist. My namesake’s nuclear papers were way too technical for me to read.)

  • 34
    Muzza
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Can scientists be irrational, and non-scientists rational?

    Does a scientific background provide a good grounding for the understanding of ecological values?

    Who peer reviews studies on nuclear energy? If those people are funded the nuclear industry, does it affect what appears in the peer review comments?

  • 35
    michael r james
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Muzza, the very first section in the report of that NHMRC conference read:

    The review revealed there is no peer reviewed, published scientific evidence to link wind turbines with adverse health effects

    The above statement is manifestly true. But sure, scientists in politically charged areas (and especially in the politicized CSIRO, sad but true) will equivocate with statements that more investigation needs to be done blah, blah. And no doubt more detailed work will be done. But it is like the mobile phone scares — no scientist believes any of it but there is nothing that will kill the beast. The media do not know how to report scientific studies and the public do not know how to interpet such studies.

    I think you are confusing the fact that various scientists have papers with titles on the subject, versus conclusions. That is, you seem to be interpolating false conclusions to those scientists. I am not accusing you of being insincere but it is a game Monckton plays. He quotes dozens of reputable scientist’s published works claiming they support various anti-AGM scenarios, when in fact pains-taking investigation by other scientists have revealed Monckton just willfully misinterpreted them.

  • 36
    Russell
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Rubbishing the opponents and calling the “deniers” or whatever, discovering “conspiracies” is all very satisfying, I’m sure… But a pointless waste of time.

    And I’m amused by greens getting all hot under the collar about Nimbys. The Greens have made Nimby-ism their defining political creed. In the case of wind farms, that has come to bite them on the bum. Get used to it.

    Live by the sword, die by the sword. Personally, I’ll believe Cate Blanchett telling me wind farms are the future when I see one in Hunters Hill.

  • 37
    Muzza
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Michael

    The NHMRC rapid review was limited, and quick and dirty. Nothing is manifestly true in this area. Much of the research remains to be done. The effects of low frequency noise and infrasound on humans, animals, and other parts of the ecosystem could well be very large. The evidence that already exists certainly suggests the need for great caution. Open minds are in short supply. Your comment on mobile phones that “no scientist believes any of it” is simply untrue. For example, google Professor David Carpenter at SUNY and the many scientists who contributed to the BioInitiative Report.

  • 38
    michael r james
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    MUZZA at 10:11 pm

    Give it up. You are trying to talk yourself into believing that joe sixpack (or Andrew Bolt) can understand complex issues better than scientists who have spent their careers on the topic, publishing in peer-reviewed international journals. Scientists laugh at the notions of collusion or fudged reviewing or conspiracies etc. The review process is not perfect but you must try to understand the first part of the process is a process amongst the co-authors, none of whom want to be associated with crap that will be pilloried/rejected or worse by their peers. Then there are the sub-editors who you have to get past. Then there will be usually at least 3 reviewers (anonymous to the authors). Incidentally all these people must declare (written declarations) that they have no conflicts of interest. The reviewers write their review and the authors must respond to their detailed critique (if the sub-editor does not reject the paper before that stage based on his reading of the reviews). So you respond and often rewrite the paper — get all the authors to agree etc. Resubmit. The sub-editor sees whether your response/rewrite is adequate (they often reject at this stage if they are a top journal). Then they will usually send your responses back to the same reviewers who write another response to say whether they think your response/rewrite is adequate. If there remain unresolved conflicts of opinion, the authors can ask the sub-editor to find another reviewer. And so it goes. Oh, by the way, the reviewers do not get paid for this — and it is incredibly time consuming and intellectually demanding, if sometimes rewarding. (If you publish or want to in that particular journal you can hardly refuse to review when they ask you.) Oh, and any really special paper/result is usually subject to a separate “News & Views” or Review that is commissioned by the sub-editor and published in the same issue. This is to summarize the paper, discuss its implications (and sometimes its likelihood) and importance/context etc and is intended to be comprehensible by a wider set of readers not just the specialists. Then there can be letters to the ed. responding to all this; and of course these days online comments.

    It can be brutal. And exhausting. At least for the journals worth publishing in. After all this, are low-quality papers still published? Of course. But everyone assesses a paper/study on its journal (top journals have absurdly high standards; Nature publish only a few percent of submitted papers) and then on its content. If a particularly challenging conclusion is reached then you weigh the evidence, but also you almost always say “it will be interesting if it is reproduced”. The scientific review process is astoundingly thorough. It is the explanation as to why there are so few scientific frauds (that almost always get uncovered; look at the process described above and understand why). The truth will out. But not in Murdoch rags or anonymous blogs.

  • 39
    Muzza
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    How you got to assume what you do about me amazes me. It’s all wrong - for a start I have a strong background in science and published peer reviewed papers. I am very aware of the process. So I reckon you should give it up too. However, there is no point in expanding on this as it serves no great purpose in the conversation here. You come across as a kind of scientific know it all to me. It is really boring having you spell out all this stuff.

  • 40
    Dave Burraston
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    In the paper referenced by Simon Chapman,

    Health effects and wind turbines: A review of the literature
    Loren D Knopper and Christopher A Ollson
    Environmental Health 2011, 10:78

    the full quote without the bit removed and replaced with …. the complete sentence is:

    In the peer reviewed studies, wind turbine annoyance and some reported health effects (e.g., sleep disturbance) have been statistically associated with wind turbine noise especially when found at sound pressure levels greater than 40 db(A), but found to be more strongly related to subjective factors like visual impact, attitude to wind turbines in general and sensitivity to noise.”

    Some other quotes from the Conclusion of the paper Simon Chapman references not mentioned in his article:

    Assessing the effects of wind turbines on human health is an emerging field, as demonstrated by the limited number of peer-reviewed articles published since 2003. Conducting further research into the effects of wind turbines (and environmental change) on human health, emotional and physical, as well as the effect of public consultation with community groups in reducing pre-construction anxiety, is warranted.”

    We believe that research of this nature should be undertaken by multi-disciplinary teams involving, for example, acoustical engineers, health scientists, epidemiologists, social scientists and public health physicians. Ideally developers, government agencies, consulting professionals and non-government organizations would form collaborations in attempt to address these issues.”

    As well as the all important :

    Competing interests
    In terms of competing interests (financial and non-financial), the authors work for a consulting firm and have worked with wind power companies. The authors are actively working in the field of wind turbines and human health. Dr. Ollson has acted as an expert witness for wind power companies during a number of legal hearings. Although we make this disclosure, we wish to reiterate that as independent scientific professionals our views and research are not influenced by these contractual obligations. The authors are environmental health scientists, trained and schooled, in the evaluation of potential risks and health effects of people and the ecosystem through their exposure to environmental issues such as wind turbines.”

  • 41
    michael r james
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    RUSSELL at 10:18 pm

    Cate Blanchett’s house at Hunters Hill is covered with solar panels, as is the STC which I believe is now supposed to be carbon neutral (I don’t know if that is true). I suspect there are not too many city locations that are efficient for wind turbines. I do not think that stuff is too significant but it is something an individual can do, or the director of the STC can do. Or influence the political process, which is more important. But in 20 years every of our city structures will have solar built into it.

    Muzza.
    Believe me, no credible scientist believes that “radiation” from mobile phones represent a cancer risk. As it happens I once was a radiation biologist and it never made sense. The “radiation” is not of the kind (ionizing radiation) that can cause DNA damage. The arguments you might be reading about are the few papers that claim a statistically significant excess of cancers associated with mobile phone use. Note, not “caused by” — ie. there might be obscure reasons for the association that have nothing to do with the function of the phone; eg. some scientists wondered if there was a user-selection bias happening (the studies utilize handedness and location of brain tumors, ie. left or right side of brain etc. Even if true (and the stats are shaky) the actual population risk is so miniscule I am sure there are more accidents and deaths caused by people using mobile phones walking into street furniture, or of course causing car accidents. The risk is so small (and personally I do not believe real) it is not worth worrying about given all the other risks with a zillion times the statistical likelihood.

    And if you didn’t think the NHMRC conclusion/summary was worth anything then why cite it? (This is just a tiny sample of the brutal review process we scientists get, anytime we want to make some conclusion public. Get used to it.)

  • 42
    Bill Parker
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    This conversation has proceeded with some interesting thoughts.

    Am I right in thinking that little acoustical data has been generated that will answer the proverbial question of proximity?.

    Anyone have a citation/reference I can look up?

  • 43
    michael r james
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    DAVE BURRASTON at 11:09 pm

    It is not clear to me what your point is. From my reading Simon Chapman has accurately summarized and presented the results in that paper.

    Incidentally, there have not been many detailed studies into the effects of wind turbines on human health because scientists or institutions or funding bodies do not initiate such work when there is no obvious basis for the study. It is like the mobile phone thing: there is no rational basis to expect any effect, not least on cancer rates. There are plenty enough of very obvious medical and health issues without chasing our tails on phantom menaces. (In the case of mobile phones with billions of people using them, it was justified doing the studies but those studies now have told us the risks are not worth fretting about. It doesn’t really matter how many more studies are done, this conclusion cannot materially change. The risk is either zero or so trivial as to be effectively little different to zero. This is not remotely like smoking or asbestos where the lifetime risks are 50 to 100% and still that doesn’t stop people from smoking.)

  • 44
    Muzza
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Michael

    I really can’t just “believe you” when a pile of scientists in the medical, biophysics areas etc. say exactly the opposite of what you do. Check out the BioInitiative report, and a whole issue of the journal Pathophysiology 2009 vol 16 on this topic. There are a good few credible scientists on to this. It looks like a case of not trusting necessarily what you read in your textbooks.
    The NHMRC rapid review I never supported in statements I made, and the NHMRC Scientific Forum held about a year later demonstrated widely diverging opinions between the “experts”.

  • 45
    Dave Burraston
    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Michael R James:

    An accurate summary of the paper Chapman references would include the important bit about the need for more research as I quoted above:

    Conducting further research into the effects of wind turbines (and environmental change) on human health, emotional and physical, as well as the effect of public consultation with community groups in reducing pre-construction anxiety, is warranted.”

    The way Simon summarizes, it leaves people like you echoing his words, which are unfortunately incomplete.

    Suggest you read, for example:

    Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health-related quality of life
    September 27, 2011 by Daniel Shepherd, David McBride, David Welch, Kim N Dirks and Erin M Hill
    Noise & Health, September-October 2011, 13:54,333-9

    I posted the link earlier it is awaiting moderation. I’ll quote the abstract:

    We report a cross-sectional study comparing the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of individuals residing in the
    proximity of a wind farm to those residing in a demographically matched area sufficiently displaced from wind turbines.
    The study employed a nonequivalent comparison group posttest-only design. Self-administered questionnaires, which
    included the brief version of the World Health Organization quality of life scale, were delivered to residents in two
    adjacent areas in semirural New Zealand. Participants were also asked to identify annoying noises, indicate their degree
    of noise sensitivity, and rate amenity. Statistically significant differences were noted in some HRQOL domain scores,
    with residents living within 2 km of a turbine installation reporting lower overall quality of life, physical quality of life,
    and environmental quality of life. Those exposed to turbine noise also reported significantly lower sleep quality, and
    rated their environment as less restful. Our data suggest that wind farm noise can negatively impact facets of HRQOL.”

    This paper also contains plenty of references to other peer-reviewed research on wind turbine noise & health, here are a few quotes:

    We also observed lower sleep satisfaction in the turbine group than in the comparison group, a finding which is consistent with previous research.[2,4,17] One study directly related to wind turbine noise reported that 16% of respondents experiencing 35 dB(A) or more of noise suffered sleep disturbances due to turbine noise.[4] Another study investigating the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep showed that 36% of respondents who were annoyed at wind turbine noise also reported that they suffered disturbed sleep (versus 9% of those not annoyed).[15] A case-study approach examining exposure to turbine noise likewise identified turbine noise as an agent of sleep disturbance.[11] In relation to turbine noise levels, one study reported that even at the lowest noise levels (≈25 dB(A)), 20% of respondents reported disturbed sleep at
    least one night per month,[17] and that interrupted sleep and difficulty in returning to sleep increased with calculated noise level. Demonstrably, our data have also captured the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep, reinforcing previous studies
    suggesting that the acoustic characteristics of turbine noise are well suited to disturb the sleep of exposed individuals.”

    Our results suggest that utility-scale wind energy generation is not without adverse health impacts on nearby residents. Thus, nations undertaking large-scale deployment of wind turbines need to consider the impact of noise on the HRQOL of exposed individuals. Along with others,[31] we conclude that night-time wind turbine noise limits should be set conservatively to minimize harm, and, on the basis of our data, suggest that setback distances need to be greater than 2 km in hilly terrain.”

  • 46
    michael r james
    Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Muzza, you are misreading what is being said. Some might discuss “risks” but what is the level and what is its statistical support (square of stuff all, and v. poor; which is why different studies differ so much). So, if the risk is one thousandth of the risk of you dying in a car accident tomorrow when you go about your business, would you recommend some kind of action on mobile phones?

    Dave B.
    There is no bunch of scientist who will never say that “more studies should be done”. It is practically de rigeur. You are reading way too much into it. And I am not sure if those papers being cited do not refer to ancient turbines, for example the ones that used to turn at high speed (and be at lower altitudes etc.) and the 35 dB ain’t gonna be at 2km or even 200 m. Everything cited is not much different to saying that when I lived in Paris the sound of motorscooters at 3 am caused sleep disturbance — they did and I would have banned the bloody things. But serious health effects (well it is true that Parisians are particularly neurotic, it may well improve if you put better silencers on scooters).

  • 47
    Bohemian
    Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Wind farms without government subsidies would be exposed for the ineffectual generators of power that they are. The scandal is vast in the US and wind and solar for other than your or my house will gradually disappear after massive taxpayer dollars have been extracted from us by rent seeking oppotunists. Wind like solar may be able to power the local mill or farm on certain days, but it cannot meet the massive power demands of industry and, for the foreseeable future will not do so. At this stage only uranium (unstable), coal, gas and oil can do this. The oil and coal industry should be spending time and money working out how to clean these industries up themselves and governments should stop cynically subsidising the chasing of butterflies with my taxes.

    Oil is going to be around for at least another 100 years..there is no peak oil..that is just the oil companies running the De Beers scarcity play. The Bakken basin alone under North Dakota and Montana is bigger than all of Saudi. The oil companies are the banks and the banks are the corporations and they aren’t about to let that change.

    Climate change caused by CO2 emissions is a play designed to allow the UN to impose its first global tax to be collected by one of JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs HSBC or other of the inner circle. Why else would an Australian puppet government be so anxious to curry favour with the global elite at the expense of a complete rout at the next election. As the former NSW Govt discovered you dont come back once the public spots the sellout. Unfortunately, I am unconvinced that the other side won’t simply fall into line if they are elected. I guess we must remain ever hopeful that one day some couragious politician will serve our interests.

  • 48
    Dave Burraston
    Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    MICHAEL R JAMES

    These are the ref’s from the paper. They are not “ancient turbines”.

    2. Pierpont, N. Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment. Santa Fe, New Mexico: K Selected Publications; 2009. 25.

    (Yes I know you’ll say Nina Piepont is crank so dont bother, on with the other references)

    4. Pedersen E, Waye KP. Perception and annoyance due to wind turbine noise: A dose-response relationship. J Acoust Soc Am 2004;116:3460-70.

    11. Berglund B, Lindvall T, Schwela DH. Guidelines for community noise. Geneva: World Health Organisation; 1999.

    17. van den Berg F, Pedersen E, Bouma J, Bakker R. 24. Visual and Acoustic impact of wind turbine farms on residents. FP6-2005-Science and Society-20, Project no. 044628. A report financed by the European
    Union; 2008.

    15. Pedersen E, Hallberg LR, Persson Waye K. Living in the Vicinity of Wind Turbines - A Grounded Theory Study. Qual Res Psychol 2007;1:49-63.

    31. Pedersen E, van den Berg F, Bakker R, Bouma J. Response to noise from modern wind farms in The Netherlands. J Acoust Soc Am 2009;126:634-43.

    The Makara turbines, operational since May 2009, have measured levels that are consistent with levels reported in European
    studies,[17] in which typical noise exposures from wind turbines ranged from between 24 dB(A) and 54 dB(A). Long-term measurements undertaken by the wind farm developers at various residences show that while average outdoor levels (L95 (10 min) dB(A)) are largely compliant with consent conditions, they still range between 20 dB(A) and 50 dB(A) depending on meteorological conditions.[22]”

    22. Botha P. Wind turbine noise and health-related quality of life of nearby residents: a cross-sectional study in New Zealand. ; INCE Europe. ISBN: 978-88-88942-33-9. Rome, Italy: Proceedings of the 4th International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise; 2011. p. 1-8.

    A more recent paper on wind turbine noise of modern turbines:

    Low-frequency noise from large wind turbines. Henrik Møllera and Christian Sejer Pedersen
    Section of Acoustics, Aalborg University, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7-B5, DK-9220 Aalborg Ø, Denmark
    J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 129 (6), June 2011

    Abstract

    As wind turbines get larger, worries have emerged that the turbine noise would move down in frequency and that the low-frequency noise would cause annoyance for the neighbors. The noise emission from 48 wind turbines with nominal electric power up to 3.6 MW is analyzed and discussed. The relative amount of low-frequency noise is higher for large turbines (2.3–3.6 MW) than for small turbines (<=2 MW), and the difference is statistically significant. The difference can also be expressed as a downward shift of the spectrum of approximately one-third of an octave. A further shift of similar size is suggested for future turbines in the 10-MW range. Due to the air absorption, the higher low-frequency content becomes even more pronounced, when sound pressure levels in relevant neighbor distances are considered. Even when A-weighted levels are considered, a substantial part of the noise is at low frequencies, and for several of the investigated large turbines, the one-third-octave band with the highest level is at or below 250 Hz. It is thus beyond any doubt that the low-frequency part of the spectrum plays an important role in the noise at the neighbors."

    And from the conlusion:

    "Under certain atmospheric conditions, e.g., temperature inversion, the noise may be more annoying and—in particular the low-frequency part—propagate much further than usually assumed. More knowledge is needed on such phenomena and their occurrences."

    Regarding your statement about motorscooters. It is well known in all the literature cited, and Simon knows this as well, because it has been pointed out to him on numerous occasions: wind turbine noise is more annoying (in the health related meaning of the word annoyance) than any other form of transport noise e.g. trains, planes, motor vehicles. You also make another error, known as the "ecological inference fallacy", from the wikipedia page:

    "An ecological fallacy (or ecological inference fallacy, also referred to as the fallacy of division[1][2][3][4][5]) is a logical fallacy in the interpretation of statistical data in an ecological study, whereby inferences about the nature of specific individuals are based solely upon aggregate statistics collected for the group to which those individuals belong. This fallacy assumes that individual members of a group have the average characteristics of the group at large. However, statistics that accurately describe group characteristics do not necessarily apply to individuals within that group. For a mathematical explanation of this see how variability of individuals is much greater than the variability of their mean.
    Stereotypes, which assume that groups are homogeneous, are one form of ecological fallacy. For example, if a particular group of people are measured to have a lower average IQ than the general population, it is an error to assume that all members of that group have a lower IQ than the general population. In fact, any given individual from that group may have a lower than average IQ, average IQ, or above average IQ compared to the general population."

    To quote Dr Shepherd from his submission (540) to the recent Senate Inquiry regarding why some people are affected and others not:

    "As with other noise sources there is individual variation in regards to the effects of wind turbine noise. However, it is a fallacy to argue that because only some suffer symptoms while others do not then those who claim to be suffering the symptoms must be making them up. In the field of epidemiology the differential susceptibility of individuals are known as risk factors, and assuming that individuals of a population can be represented by the average characteristics of the population is known as the ecological inference fallacy. In terms of wind turbine noise these risk factors are still under study, and one important risk factor is noise sensitivity."

    "Noise sensitivity, considered a stable personality trait that is relatively invariant across noise level, is a strong predictor of noise annoyance and is correlated with sleep quality. Noise sensitive individuals can be described by two key characteristics. First, they are more likely to pay attention to sound and evaluate it negatively (e.g., threatening or annoying). Second, they have stronger emotional reactions to noise, and consequently, greater difficulty habituating. My own research concurs with international studies estimating the prevalence of severe noise sensitivity to be between 10 – 15 percent of the population."

  • 49
    michael r james
    Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    BOHEMIAN at 12:37 am

    Make sure you carefully check under your bed before retiring tonight, now.

  • 50
    Lord Barry Bonkton
    Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Bohemian , what about the $10 Billion given to the poor miners so they can get the tax payers to fill their tanks up ???
    Muzza sounds like a broken Liberal record.

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