Anti-wind crusade fires up as Senator calls for 'infrasound' regulator | RenewEconomy

Anti-wind crusade fires up as Senator calls for ‘infrasound’ regulator

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Fired up by RET deal, anti-wind Senator David Leyonhjelm has called on govt to set up an infrasound regulator to monitor noise near wind turbines.

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Australia’s wind energy industry has had hardly a week to bask in the glow of a bipartisan – but not yet legislated – renewable energy target, before the mixed political messages started flying again. This time, in the form of renewed anti-wind campaigning from government cross-benches.

After securing a 33,000GWh RET – a much watered-down target, but one that could still favour the large-scale wind sector – key Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm said in an article published in The Australian on Sunday that the Abbott government should set up a new regulator to monitor noise levels near wind turbines.4945112-3x4-340x453

Leyonhjelm said such a body was called for, after the Senate inquiry he set up uncovered “credible evidence” some people were suffering health concerns caused by low frequency noise and vibrations made by spinning wind turbines.

This is a worry for the wind industry; not because Leyonhjelm’s claims hold any credible scientific weight – they don’t – but because the Abbott government, while perhaps undecided about how wind turbines sound, is no fan of the way they look. Just ask Joe Hockey.

The fact is, this latest senate wind inquiry – the 10th in five years – has found little-to-no scientifically backed evidence to support the theory that wind turbine noise is making people and animals sick.

Instead, the major study being used to support the existence of ‘wind turbine syndrome’ – described as “an exemplary case of… bad science” – has been contradicted by numerous studies and reports from both other acoustics groups and major government health organisations, all of which have so far found no scientifically proven evidence to support claims inaudible low-frequency infrasound produced by wind farms causes illness.

What the inquiry has clearly illustrated, though, is the deep-seated antipathy to wind turbines that exists among some of Australia’s top Conservative politicians.

To Leyonhjelm – whose main contribution to the RET debate was a plan to give subsidies to hydro schemes built by state governments decades ago – the wind industry reminds him “of the tobacco company’s 50 years ago testifying to a committee somewhat similar like ours saying cigarettes do not cause lung cancer.”

The only losers in his proposed RET scenario would be the major wind-energy generators, who, wrote Leyonhjelm in the AFR, were “eagerly waiting to build dozens of new wind farms in an effort to meet the target and get on the subsidy gravy train.”

Now, Leyonhjelm has seized on loosely interpreted reports that the German Medical Assembly wants a halt on further wind farm developments near housing pending more research into the possible health impacts.

“I am usually the last person to support the creation of additional government bureaucracy but when we are directing around $22 billion towards the Renewable Energy Target (RET), the creation of a regulator would be a drop in the bucket,” he said in the AFR report.

“Those who justify action on climate change because of the precautionary principle will understand the need to apply the same principle to infrasound.”

But as Ketan Joshi writes on his blog, “the German Medical assembly hasn’t actually signified they ‘want a halt’ on further wind turbine development…

“This isn’t a ‘decision’ at all – it was debated, and simply transferred to the executive board for a decision. Nor was this initiated by ‘doctors’ – the motion was moved by Dr Bernd Lücke,” who, says Ketan, may or may not be the same Bernd L¨cke who heads up Germany’s ‘Alternative for Germany‘ or AfD – a group deeply opposed to Germany’s transition away from nuclear power, towards renewables.

“Regardless,” says Ketan, “the motion wasn’t accepted – it was simply passed up to the executive of the German Medical Association. (Graham) Lloyd’s article is still misleading, and Leyonhjelm is wrong.”

Whether or not that will serve as any comfort to Australia’s wind energy industry is negligible, considering how little regard the Abbott government has given to scientific evidence in the past.

According to a report in Fairfax Media, Leyonhjelm says the need for a new regulator is particularly pressing given the Clean Energy Regulator says another 1000 wind turbines will need to be erected in the next five years to meet the RET.

The wind Senate inquiry is set to report back to parliament in August.

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16 Comments
  1. Chris Fraser 5 years ago

    Senators should be aware that all the drops of water dreamed up by the contrarians adds up to one Big bucket. I’d suggest a Senate Medical Research Council on the Health Impacts of Joe’s Second Hand Smoke. All those in favour say Aye …

  2. Ken Dyer 5 years ago

    Leyonhjelm ought to pay more attention to reports by the South Australian EPA and Resonate Acoustics, both credible Australian resources, that was published in January 2013.

    http://www.epa.sa.gov.au/files/477912_infrasound.pdf

    The Study “concludes that the level of infrasound at houses near the wind turbines
    assessed is no greater than that experienced in other urban and rural environments, and that the contribution of wind turbines to the measured infrasound levels is insignificant incomparison with the background level of infrasound in the environment.”

    Another money wasting thought bubble from a pollie driven by ideology.

    • Coley 5 years ago

      Or a large brown envelope, ideology? A rarity in most politicians worldwide, something I think you may find;)

  3. onesecond 5 years ago

    While they are at it they should also install a toothfairy regulator.

    • Coley 5 years ago

      Aye, it was sixpence when I was a bairn now they expect the tooth fairy to give them a trip to Disneyland Florida!
      Much like the FFs expectations from Abbot& Co!

  4. Rob G 5 years ago

    Perhaps Leyonhjelm should be focusing on the harm to health that coal fire generators cause. Loads of scientific facts there. But alas, he’d rather focus on mumbo jumbo to attack the wind energy. You just have to wonder what fossil fuel provider is backing this guy.

  5. Jacob 5 years ago

    How about an inspector to check if any sound insulation is being installed at all in the apartment blocks going up in Melbourne?

    Let alone German-made acoustic sound insulation.

  6. Edward Borland 5 years ago

    What a nut job. I can’t wait for the water divining and tea leaf reading inquiries.

  7. Rob 5 years ago

    If the Senator was serious about doing something to protect peoples health, which he clearly isn’t, he’d be launching an enquiry into the damage to peoples health caused by coal mining, csg mining, and air pollution generally. These sources of pollution cause far greater health damage, to so many more people in this country than could ever be affected by wind farms, assuming they cause any damage at all. Something that nine enquiries so far have failed to find.

  8. George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

    “all of which have so far found no scientifically proven evidence to
    support claims inaudible low-frequency infrasound produced by wind farms
    causes illness”

    “scientifically proven evidence” sounds rather clumsy.

    But more clumsy is the notion that a lack of evidence equates to the lack of a genuine problem: bring the research on, and then let’s see what the results are.

    • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

      One hundred more studies finding nothing wouldn’t be convincing to you George. You’re immune to facts.

      • George Papadopoulos 5 years ago

        Which one hundred studies?

  9. Peter Campbell 5 years ago

    Someone should reassure the senator that infrasound is invisible, colourless and odourless (not to mention inaudible).

  10. john 5 years ago

    Oh dear the poor deluded man
    Infrasound of which I have had some exposure is everywhere my friend.
    The term refers to sound pressure waves below a normal man’s hearing range which is limited against animals.
    If anyone can go get a sound pressure device and check the background levels over every frequency or note make sure it goes down to the low frequencies and up high above human hearing then just note the readings.
    You will find that the train that went past about 5 or 10 kms. away had huge low frequency notice that is infrasound.
    Those trees near your house if there is any wind yep infrasound.
    Now high frequency sound from that jet aeroplane.
    Get inside a car and do a measurement and high frequency and low frequency, if in our hearing range could not be sold, because the range will be over 100 db.
    Note 80 db. does damage to your ear in the normal frequency range we can hear.
    Here is the problem people who have no idea about what they are talking expressing ideas to people how no idea about the subject results in bad outcomes.
    Is this country going to be for every run by the lowest common denominator I ask?
    I guess it will because we are now moving to a No science country.
    My comment Pathetic.

  11. Shane Oneil 5 years ago

    Rob compared coal plants with windfarms on a health level , shall we now compare windfarms power output against coal . Or go to the stat that is the clencher for anybody with common sense and compare the cost of a turbine to its average annual power return. . Im all for clean tech but for the effort and spin the left go to to support big wind is really frustrating. .

  12. JIm 5 years ago

    Champion of economic freedom wants to punish wind power irrationally and selectively. Humbug! Miscellaneous urban noise sources affect a far greater number of people. This involves effects on health, sleep deprivation etc. SA EPA studied the wind farm so-called problem. There is no smoking gun. This does not justify a new regulator.

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