South Australia court dismisses anti-wind farm claims | RenewEconomy

South Australia court dismisses anti-wind farm claims

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South Australia court rejects arguments of anti-wind campaigners as it gives approval to 105MW Stony Gap wind farm.

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A court in South Australia has overturned opposition to a 35-turbine wind farm after dismissing much of the evidence provided by anti-wind campaigners as “not credible”.

stony gapThe Environment, Resources, and Development Court of South Australia last week found in favour of Tru Energy Renewable Developments, a subsidiary of EnergyAustralia, which was seeing to overturn a ruling by the Goyder council that rejected approval of the 105MQ Stony Gap wind farm project near the town of Burra.

The ruling is notable for the manner in which it dismissed the evidence of two leading anti-wind campaigners, Sarah Laurie of the Waubra Foundation, and Steven Cooper, an acoustic engineer oft quoted by the Murdoch press. They were the key witnesses for three residents who continued to fight the proposal even after the council accepted a compromise with the developer.

“Having regard to all of the evidence and the relevant provisions of the Development Plan, there is no basis, on a correct planning assessment, for refusing to grant development plan consent,” the court ruled. “Development plan consent to construct a wind farm comprising 35 turbines and associated infrastructure is granted, subject to conditions.”

Of the evidence provided by Cooper, the court was damming.

The opponents produced reports from 11 residents of the Waterloo wind farm, which claimed all manner of ailments. These included mild nausea, insomnia, headaches, balance issues, heart palpitations, forgetfulness, stress, depression, deteriorating vision, agitation, loss of concentration, high blood pressure, sore eyeballs, neck and chest, strange dreams, ringing in the ears, frustration, irritability, aggravation of tinnitus, anxiety, lethargy, weight gain, popping ears and swollen glands.

The court noted that an EPA report investigated the claims, and found none to be proved. Some even were alleged to have occurred when the turbines were not operating.

The court found: “Mr Cooper did not mount a cogent challenge to the data in the EPA report; rather, he wishes to see further work done on the issues of infrasound and low frequency noise.”

And further: “No factual basis has been established for the refusal of development plan consent to the proposed development on the basis of noise or the perception of energy below the audibility level. Mr Cooper has a number of theories, to do with low frequency noise, which he is investigating. At present, on the basis of his evidence before us, it seems that his approach to the task includes privileging the subjective experiences of those residents who have experienced problems, and their perceptions as to the cause of these experiences, over other contradictory data.” (Our emphasis, not the court’s).

The court also did not accept the evidence provided by Laurie, who argued that wind farms create significant health impacts.

“The court rules that Laurie is not an expert in assessing whether there is a causal link between wind farm noise and health impacts. She has no relevant qualifications or experience in this kind of research.”

Nevertheless, it looked at her arguments, but concluded:

“Dr Laurie’s evidence does not contain evidence (whether from her own research, or that of others) of a causal link between contemporary operating wind turbines and the kind of health problems reported by the deponents, which is consistent with any accepted scientific or legal method of proof.”

The court noted that Laurie was presented with evidence from the Australian Medical Association, and the EPA reports, which found that no link existed.

“Dr Laurie rejects all of the studies, including the EPA studies,83 which are not consistent with her theories,” the court found.

“She admits that evidence showing a causal connection between contemporary wind farms and health effects does not exist, and she seeks to have more research done in the hope that such evidence will be generated in the future. “

It further said:

“Dr Laurie agreed that there are wind farms in Australia in relation to which no complaints have been received by the Waubra Foundation. She thought that there might be a correlation between the size of the turbines and the presence of health effects, and, because complaints have been received from the two wind farms in Australia with the same sized turbines as those proposed, she was unwilling to say that it was possible that the proposed wind farm might not cause any adverse health effects. She provided no evidentiary basis for this view.”

On the other hand, the court also heard from Professor Wittert, a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and he chair at the University of Adelaide in the Discipline of Medicine, and a senior consultant in Endocrinology at the Royal Adelaide Hospital

Wittert said there is no evidence that adverse health effects can be directly attributable to inaudible low-frequency sound emissions; there is no evidence that the level of infrasound produced by wind turbines constitutes a problem to health; and there is no evidence that audible noise resulting from the operation of wind turbines constitutes a significant risk to health in the majority of individuals provided the development is compliant with current guidelines.

The court found: “Professor Wittert is an appropriately qualified and experienced expert. We accept his evidence. There is no basis for the refusal of development plan consent to the proposed development on the grounds of health effects.”






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  1. john 6 years ago

    If one was to extrapolate the evidence from Sarah Laurie and Steven Cooper then all trains, vehicles, industrial plants and aeroplanes should also be banned due to low frequency noise.
    There is also high frequency noise out side your hearing range some times well into the 108 dB range inside the motor car you drive totally unaware of it.
    Yes there is annoyance from the above granted however how come no court challenge?
    That coal fired plant fits into the low and high frequency range as well oh dear.
    In other words the whole thing is a total joke and people can be easily mislead just do a bit of research on sound pressure levels and hearing of humans and you will be surprised especially if you take a frequency dB meter outside your house and do the readings.

    • Peter Campbell 6 years ago

      And ban trips to the seaside too. Waves make a lot of infrasound. Probably explains why nobody can relax on the beach.

  2. Alan Baird 6 years ago

    Occasionally I’ve been near wind farms and I’ve never been well since. However, the lady who travels hither and yon to fulminate against them has obviously been exposed to their insidious effects for a VERY long time. Poor thing. Did you know that the Nazis used to expose racial minorities to the sound of wind farms during WW2 as a form of torture? Neither did I. We need to send goosie-loosie to ask experts like Alan Jones and Joe Hockey about this matter so we can send a message to the king. Oh, all right, Tony.

    • john 6 years ago

      Alan and Peter good to see you are aware of the silly rot going on however it seems once a idea starts there are all kind of results that pop up

      • Tom Gray 6 years ago

        Especially in the age of the Internet and Web. Cranks unlimited.

  3. George Papadopoulos 6 years ago

    ‘Wittert said there is no evidence that adverse health effects can be directly attributable to inaudible low-frequency sound emissions’

    Smart little Wittert – got the “directly” word in his phrase, because the indirect problems caused by wind turbines are another matter…

    And because there is no “direct” evidence, those affected by wind farms can wait till the “indirect” effects of noise nuisance and sleep deprivation, motion sickness etc drive them off their properties.

    • Alan Baird 6 years ago

      Motion sickness? Wot? Hanging on to the blades perhaps? Are you being paid by the coal lobby? Yeah, probably. I’ve found I get motion sickness while breathing smoke from coal fired power stations but apparently you think they smell great. More turkey-lurky stuff from the windmill loonies.

      • George Papadopoulos 6 years ago

        I think coal stations smell great? When did I say that?

        By the way: have you read the reports of what people keep complaining of around wind farms? Symptoms of motion sickness, attributable to the low frequency noise of wind turbines – nothing new or unknown to science, just a difficult message to get into the “direct-evidence” seeking heads of some people…

        • Douglas Hynd 6 years ago

          The experience of these symptoms seems to be limited in their geographic distribution. this is a piece of direct evidence relevant to a search for relevant causal mechanisms.

          • George Papadopoulos 6 years ago

            Indeed it is limited to the English speaking world… and if one speaks a different language they will find similar complaints in other nations such as Taiwan, Turkey, France, Portugal, Spain etc etc.

            Limited complaints? Or a limited level of inquiry on behalf of those who do not want to hear or listen?

          • Biff 6 years ago

            Where is the evidence, George?? Seriously, I’m tired of hearsay and exaggerations. If these health effects were true, then given the huge rollout of wind across Europe there’s be literally tens of thousands of sufferers. The press would be all over it, an absolute boon for investigative journalists. And even allowing for the much saner European inquisitorial legal system, there would also be huge legal challenges to the operators of wind farms and the governments that allowed them. But there aren’t any. The only turbulent air in this debate is of the hot variety coming from people like you.

          • George Papadopoulos 6 years ago

            hmm, no interest from journalists???

            And here is one legal case for you to look at:
            (courtesy of the research in vibro-accoustic disease)

          • Biff 6 years ago

            Wow George, one whole legal case in the entirety of Europe – that must settle the question then! What a joke … I’m trying to be polite but numpties like you and your ilk are really annoying me. Show me the hundreds of legal cases banning wind farms, and stories from The Guardian, Le Monde and all the other major Euro newspapers that are critical of wind turbines. If you can’t, then take your ridiculous argument and shove it. Did you even bother reading that Portugese case?? Quite clearly, wind turbines make noise as the blades move through the air. Quite clearly, those turbines were sited way too close to the buildings in question – 321m. That’s all this case is about. But of course in your warped nocebo mind this is irrefutable evidence that all wind turbines cause the brains of humans and animals to swell and explode, amongst many other effects. What.a.joke.

          • George Papadopoulos 6 years ago

            Wow Biff, did you ever bother reading into the Portugese case? With the vitality and health of the whole family and farm animals becoming seriously compromised by the operation of the wind turbines? A bit of noise hey?
            Nice to see how you can only resort to hurling insult when your ideas of wind turbine “safety” becomes a little challenged…

          • Biff 6 years ago

            Yes George, as I stated clearly in my previous post I did read the case, and this particular example is simply a case of turbines being placed too close to dwellings. Fact – wind turbines make noise as the blades rotate. I’m sure my sleep would be disturbed if I lived right next door to a coal-fired power station, not to mention my health from the particulate emissions. In 2008 Portugal rolled out the largest onshore wind farm in Europe (not sure if it still is). Denmark has huge numbers of wind turbines, as does Portugal and Spain. If what you believe were true, there would be THOUSANDS of such legal cases across Europe. Where are they George????????? I get angry at people like you because you’re a troll – you’re spamming this site with ridiculous and untrue assertions about wind.

            Anyway, I await your reply listing the top 100 legal cases in Europe that have forced wind farms to shut down. Or, more likely, we’ll get another stupid post about how I just don’t get it about this one Portuguese family.

          • George Papadopoulos 6 years ago

            Biff, in case you weren’t aware I am not a troll – I have had my life intruded by wind turbines and the low frequency noise they create. Asking me for hundreds of legal cases is a cheap “numbers games” and nothing more. Maybe you should realise how angry I am about people who don’t listen to what I have gone through and what I say and instead breed conspiracy theories about my motives.

          • Biff 6 years ago

            George, I suspect only you and I are still reading this so I’ll make this my last post. I did some searching myself and yes, there does appear to be a growing backlash against wind in parts of Europe, mainly on aesthetic grounds (ruining the beautiful Euro countryside) as well as improper siting of the increasingly-large turbines. Europe is crowded, and many of these complaints are against turbines that are placed within several hundred metres of homes. I would not want to live that close to a wind turbine and most wouldn’t, I imagine.

            But if these industrial quantities of turbines were making people sick on an industrial scale we’d be reading about it daily. This isn’t communist China where such a scenario could be covered up through press muzzling. The problem in the West is that every human activity seems to attract a looney fringe, people who complain about everything and nothing. I get the strong feeling that you and your ilk would complain about a wind farm 20 km away from your home, despite there being no evidence of this dreaded infrasound scourge. If these turbines are making you sick then prove it – it should be easy to do.

            Out of a total 33 post (including this one), 11 are from you, fully one third. That’s trolling.

          • George Papadopoulos 6 years ago

            Seems like we live in a different world and you choose a pseudonym. Wind turbines seem to create issues wherever they go – full stop. I can’t see what makes it so difficult to comprehend that – and yes, health problems and infrasound have been a problem amply discussed in recent times, the subject of much investigation and research and nothing new – the first problems with wind turbine LFN where documented back in the 1980’s by NASA. Get it or not? And thank you, but whether you view me a troll or not, it won’t make one bit of a difference whether I respond or not.

          • George Papadopoulos 6 years ago

            And one more for you Biff:

            It is website in German that I can’t understand, but the picture shows what the wind industry means for so many people: sonic and visual intrusion. Ever wonder why there aren’t hundreds of successful law suits (yet) against the wind industry?

          • Peter Campbell 6 years ago

            Not only have the anti-wind farm people failed to produce any credible evidence of harm to people, they have also failed to produce any evidence of harm to the much larger numbers of farm animals. The animals tend to have greater exposure from being closer to the turbines. Statistics on vet bills and productivity of wool/milk/meat etc are carefully recorded. It should be getting obvious from the incidental animal experiments if there were any credence to be given to the claims.
            BTW. I did look at a journal paper (in a very low rated journal) that was referenced for an experiment on the supposed effects on farm birds. I have never read such a poor quality paper, except perhaps another to do with bees supposedly bothered by mobile phones.

        • Peter Campbell 6 years ago

          And yet, just this weekend I was chatting to a guy looking forward to getting one on his farm like various of his neighbours have. He looked healthy to me!

          • George Papadopoulos 6 years ago

            And the smoker down the road thought he looked healthy till he developed lung cancer…

    • Douglas Hynd 6 years ago

      “Indirect” effects would require “direct evidence” of their existence would they not?

      • George Papadopoulos 6 years ago

        Do i need to go any further than twenty or so “international reviews” of which many agree that there is evidence of noise nuisance and sleep deprivation but no “direct” evidence of harm?

        Even Simon Chapman agrees that wind turbines indirectly make people ill, but believes that this through mechanisms of nocebo and “scare campaigns”.

        So what do you believe? Are there any health problems indirectly attributable to wind turbines?

        • Douglas Hynd 6 years ago

          Were these review provided to the NHMRC for their assessment?

          • George Papadopoulos 6 years ago

            I’m not sure, but Professor Chapman kept quoting them as evidence of no direct harm from wind farms. Maybe ask him, he might have passed them onto the NHMRC for review.

        • john 6 years ago

          Actually here is his statement

          Academic Simon Chapman finds no evidence that wind turbines cause vibroacoustic disease

  4. Les Johnston 6 years ago

    It is encouraging to see that evidence based science is being reflected in the judgement of this court. Maybe this will be the forerunner to future cases against Government which refrain from acting to counter the effects of climate change through their environmental policies.

  5. Tom Gray 6 years ago

    It’s damning, not damming, in this instance.

  6. john 6 years ago

    Perhaps I should post the actual words from the Professor

    Academic Simon Chapman finds no evidence that wind turbines cause vibroacoustic disease

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