Senate wind report should value communities and science
31 July 2015
Infigen Energy is anticipating the release of the final report by the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines on 3 August 2015. We hope the findings of Austalian medical health bodies are valued according to the weight of the expertise behind them.
We reiterate statements made by Infigen Energy Government Relations Manager Jonathan Upson at the Canberra hearing on 19 May, where he informed the Select Committee that:
“Five countries have over five times as much wind energy installed than we do, even though we have one of the largest—and windiest—countries on the planet. Australia is not in any way, shape or form the proving ground for wind energy. Wind farms have been operating for decades overseas and the industry has been extremely successful.”
We acknowledge the position of the Australian Association of Acoustical Consultants (AAAC), Australia’s peak acoustics body, which states in a supplementary submission to the inquiry that:
“Investigations have found that infrasound levels around wind farms are no higher than levels measured at other locations where people live, work and sleep.Those investigations conclude that infrasound levels adjacent to wind farms are below the threshold of perception and below currently accepted limits set for infrasound.”
We expect, as per the interim report, that the Select Committee will suggest further research into this area. We strongly contend such research ought to be conducted within the bounds of the scientific method. Namely, these studies ought to be conducted by medical research experts, include strict controls, measures of statistical analysis and academic peer review.
Properly conducted science is valuable to communities seeking information. The Health Canada study, involved 1,238 homes, 4,000 hours of indoor and outdoor wind turbine noise measurements, as well as a large number of medical, neurological, acoustic, academic and industry experts. This study found no linkage between wind turbine noise exposure and health impacts, but reiterated the need for strong community engagement, as many complaints were linked to attitudinal factors.
Infigen Energy operates six wind farms in Australia, and has developed over a thousand megawatts of wind farm projects throughout Australia. Our experience thus far is that community members value consultation, engagement and mutual respect. Community members do not place high value on acoustic or medical reports that have not been conducted in a scientific manner, regardless of ‘which side’ of the debate they are on.
In addition to scientific considerations, we sincerely hope that the committee has considered the value of the principles of community engagement in the final report.