Morris, M. To ACNC in Support of Waubra Foundation

As a researcher who has first hand experience of the problems on the ground for wind turbine neighbours, there is no doubt in my mind that Waubra Foundations work should be classified as a health promoting charity.

To the ACNC Commissioner,

I am the author of the only Australian research accepted by the NHMRC in their most recent review of Wind turbines and Health as evidence for wind turbines affecting the health and wellbeing of neighbouring residents.

I have attached the NHMRC review and my work is reference #15

M. Waterloo wind farm survey. 2012 [Viewed 18 January 2013]; Available from: www.wind-watch.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Waterloo-Wind-Farm-Survey-April-2012-Select-Committee.pdf.

I write to you in support of the Waubra Foundation appeal against Commissioner David Locke’s ruling on 11th December, 2014 that the Waubra Foundation was not a Health Promotion Charity, because according to him:

“to date 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”.

The Waubra Foundation’s role has always been and continues to be — to call for urgent high quality research to be carried out into the health impacts of audible and low frequency noise on the health and well being of residents and to improve health and sleep outcomes for those affected.

 

As such their status as a Health Promotion Charity should be reinstated.

The recommendations of 2011 Senate Inquiry into wind farms include research into sleep disturbance and other health problems from wind turbine emissions.

The NHMRC themselves have made the following recommendations for further research on pages Pages 20 and 21 of their attached document.

 C Areas for further research

Further evidence is needed to explore the relationships between noise at varying distances from wind farms and other health-related effects such as annoyance, sleep and quality of lifeResearch is also required to investigate the broader social and environmental circumstances that influence self-reported health effects and health-related effects in people living near wind farms.

Gathering sufficient quality evidence in these two areas may assist governments and planning authorities to make evidence-based decisions regarding wind farm policy, planning and development. Community engagement and participation would be beneficial in ensuring that research is appropriately targeted to the community’s areas of concern.

The Reference Group has identified a number of themes for further research. It is important that research measuring and characterising wind turbine noise exposure is completed prior to undertaking research into the health outcomes and possible interventions. Three main themes have been identified.

Improve the measurement of noise

The studies identified in the systematic review did not directly measure wind turbine noise at participants’ homes. People’s exposure to wind farm noise was assessed based on how far they lived from the nearest wind turbine (proximity) or by using mathematical models to estimate the level of sound where they lived. However, it is difficult to estimate the level of noise from wind farms in the presence of background noise.

Where consistent associations were found between estimated wind turbine noise and health-related outcomes (such as annoyance), it was not possible to tell whether noise was driving the association, or whether the association could be explained by one or more other factors that are more common among people living in close proximity to wind farms (such as attitude to, visibility of or economic benefit from wind farms).

The Reference Group considers that further research is required to characterise wind turbine noise (audible, low frequency and infrasound) at distances from the turbines ranging from 500 m to 3 km and beyond, in different terrains and under varying weather conditions. These outcomes may inform whether a ‘wind turbine signature’ can be developed and validated as a model of wind turbine noise.

Infrasound is considered by some to be an important component of the noise from wind farms. The Reference Group considers that there is a need to develop standardised methods to measure infrasound indoors and outdoors, at various distances from a wind turbine (at distances ranging from 500 m to 3 km and beyond). This would ensure there is consistency in the measurement of infrasound from wind turbines and aid interpretation of the body of evidence on the impacts of wind turbine noise.

Field studies to establish the characteristics of noise that are exclusive to wind turbine origins (if any), and to consider how wind turbine noise varies diurnally, in different terrains, under different weather conditions and with further increases in distance from wind turbines, would be a useful approaches to address this issue.

Examine the relationship between wind turbine noise and health or health-related effects

All the studies identified in the systematic component of the independent review used self-reported measures of health outcomes to determine whether there was any association with exposure to wind turbine emissions. Given the lack of objective health measurements in these studies, information bias cannot be excluded as an explanation for any apparent association. In addition, the measurement of health-related effects such as annoyance, sleep disturbance and mental health in relation to wind turbine proximity lacked the consistent use of validated questionnaires.

There is a need to conduct field studies which consider objectively measured physiological and biochemical characteristics (including sleep) along with an individual’s self-reported physical and psychological status (including annoyance). These measures should be compared to objectively recorded noise from wind turbines (measured inside and outside of their residence) and/or exposure to simulated wind turbine noise generated by a speaker.

Laboratory studies would also be useful to examine the effects of validated wind turbine noise on objectively measured physiological and biochemical characteristics. These findings could then be considered in parallel to comparable field studies.

Investigate the social and environmental circumstances

The Reference Group recommend further investigation of the broader social and environmental circumstances that influence annoyance, sleep disturbance, quality of life and health effects that are reported by some residents living in close proximity to wind farms.

Factors that influence changes to health effects and health-related outcomes may include a person’s expectations of peace, perceived loss of control, aesthetics and impacts on visual landscape, impacts on land values, uneven distribution of financial benefits and exposure to other noise sources (e.g. road traffic and wind noise).

Further research would improve the understanding of the potential confounding or modifying effect of these factors on the relationship between objectively recorded exposure to validated wind turbine noise and:

an individual’s self-reported physical and psychological status (including annoyance); and

an individual’s objectively measured physiological and biochemical characteristics.

This could be achieved through a program of psychosocial research to investigate, develop and test interventions that might reduce the impacts of wind farm developments on nearby residents. This research may assist in developing possible policy or consultative interventions that may address the above broader factors, and thereby reduce the reported health and health-related effects of wind turbines.”

Other Industries create Low frequency and Audible noise problems for people in the vicinity and include aviation. The following document also details associated health and wellbeing issues and conclusions.

http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/ERCD1208.pdf

Page 65

WHO considers that the onset of the effects of noise on sleep occurs at an aircraft noise event level of 32 dB LAmax,indoors.

7.4 The work on cardiovascular and hormonal changes that occur during sleep as a result of noise highlight the importance for further work into the area, due to the potential for long-term health effects.

Page 66. Key findings

• Levels above 55 dB Lnight result in increased risk of myocardial infarctions and these can be monetised using established methods. • Levels above 45 dB Lnight result in increased risk of hypertension, and this can lead to hypertensive strokes and dementia, which can be monetised using established methods.

As a researcher who has first hand experience of the problems on the ground for wind turbine neighbours, there is no doubt in my mind that Waubra Foundations work should be classified as a health promoting charity.

The Waubra foundation advocates for impacted people and its quest for research and providing better outcomes for people impacted by industrial noise and the work done so far has helped to drive the current NHMRC recommendation of MORE RESEARCH NEEDED.

Yours sincerely

Mary Morris
Eudunda, South Australia
8 February 2015

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