Hansen, Professor Colin H. To ACNC in Support of Waubra Foundation
From Professor Colin Hansen, School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Adelaide
This problem is not unique to Australia — there are many reports available from Danish, British, Canadian and American researchers.
Dear Commissioner Pascoe
I am writing to express my dismay that the witch hunt against the Waubra Foundation and its excellent work has resulted in it being de-registered as a health promotion charity. This could only have happened as a result of the considerable influence exerted by people working for the wind farm industry who are so biased that they seem to have lost all sense of reality. It is even strange that the ACNC Assistant Commissioner David Locke ruled that there has been no rigorous independent scientific evidence that finds that the ill health complained of is caused by the physiological effects from wind turbines nor that there are human diseases called “wind turbine syndrome” or ‘vibroacoustic disease”.
This a biased statement because it fails to point out that there has been no rigorous independent scientific evidence that finds that the ill health complained of is NOT caused by wind turbines. One does not need a rigorous scientific study to see that many individuals are so adversely affected by wind farms that they leave their homes. Others leave for a short time and find that after a while their symptoms disappear until they return home again.
My research team and I have been measuring noise levels inside and outside of residences in the vicinity of the Waterloo wind farm for three years now as part of a research project funded by the Australian Research Council.
We have measured significant levels of low-frequency noise and infrasound inside residences. This noise varies in intensity in a very regular way (technically we would call it amplitude modulation), so that it is very different in character to the random fluctuations in normal environmental infrasound. Although the infrasound that we measure is below the traditionally accepted threshold of auditory detection for normal people, there are always sensitive people who can detect sound at much lower levels than normal. In addition the normal threshold levels were found by testing people with single-frequency, steady tones where the peak levels are only 1.4 times the average (or rms) level.
It has been suggested that in the infrasound region we respond to peak sound pressures, not average ones and wind farm noise is characterised by much higher peak to rms ratios than steady tonal sound, which would imply that even normal people would have a threshold for detecting wind farm infrasound that is lower than determined in the laboratory with steady tonal stimuli.
We have also found the same sort of modulated sound in the audible low-frequency range as we found in the infrasonic range. Whether the problem is infrasound or low-frequency noise and whether this noise has a direct physiological effect on some people or causes ill health due to sleep deprivation is a moot point. The health of a significant number of people seems to suffer when they reside in the vicinity of a wind farm.
This problem is not unique to Australia — there are many reports available from Danish, British, Canadian and American researchers. I have also been personally contacted by a number of people living in the vicinity of other low-frequency noise sources who are suffering sleep deprivation. It is well documented that low-frequency noise can be very annoying and long term exposure can result in a number of health problems that are very similar to those reported by people living near wind farms.
It is not surprising to me that a multi-billion dollar industry, such as the wind farm industry, would have considerable influence at high levels in our society and as a result it is not surprising to me that there is a tendency to squash any organisation or person who may be giving people information that is seen not to be in the best interests of the wind farm industry.
The Waubra Foundation should be congratulated on its work in bringing the adverse effects of wind farms on some of the people living near them, to the attention of politicians, as it is only in this way that a rigorous study will be funded and undertaken. Without politicians willing to support such studies we will continue to be told that there is no scientific evidence proving beyond doubt that wind farms cause adverse health effects in people living near them.
I very much hope that you will be able to reverse the decision to de-register the Waubra Foundation on the basis that the original decision cannot be supported by any factual evidence whatsoever. In fact, there is more evidence that it was the wrong decision than there is evidence to support it.
8 February 2015
Professor Colin H Hansen
School of Mechanical Engineering
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005