Gullen Range Wind Farm – Submission to NSW Planning Assessment Commission
There is longstanding and growing clinical and acoustic evidence that industrial wind farm acoustic emissions directly cause serious harm to the health and well-being of some of their neighbours.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) acknowledges this threat caused by wind farms and, for that reason, has instituted noise guidelines and imposes operational noise conditions on wind farms. Unfortunately, these guidelines are seriously deficient in protecting against this source of harm.
Developers employ noise modeling to demonstrate that their proposed wind farms will meet these guidelines and thus get approval. However, this modeling is not only fundamentally unreliable but somehow always seems to underestimate the noise actually caused (ie the unreliability has a particular and consistent bias beneficial to developers), as is confirmed by independent post construction acoustic measurement and resident experience. Consequently the modeling in this instance, as in others, cannot be considered to provide any guarantee against subsequent harm to residents.
The proponent in this case has, in multiple ways, demonstrated a lack of consideration for the local community, councils, the department and rulings of the Land & Environment Court. The department, in this case and others, has a long and inglorious track-record of maladministration and failure to act expeditiously, or even at all, to protect residents from developers’ noise and other harm.
So the PAC and the community cannot rely on the good faith of either the developer or the department to protect residents. Thus the PAC needs to require the institution of mechanisms that will ensure protection of residents from the harm to health and well-being commonly associated with wind farms, using the mechanisms we recommend. Without them, harm is guaranteed.
The only protection for local residents will be permanent noise monitoring, particularly inside dwellings, conducted by genuinely independent parties, with strict, no-discretion sanctions for each breach of operating conditions. Rather like automatic speeding fines. Details of the recommendation and how it would operate are provided later in this submission.
The obligation for the PAC to do this is strengthened by the precautionary principle to which the department claims to subscribe in its wind farm guidelines, and which the NHMRC has recommended since July 2010.
The obligation of PAC members is further strengthened by the fact that Australia is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture. Sleep deprivation is a common consequence of wind farm noise, which the NHMRC recently recognised is present in the existing limited research literature, along with “annoyance” symptoms and poorer quality of life.
Sleep deprivation is explicitly acknowledged as a form of torture by both the UN Committee against Torture, and the Physicians for Human Rights.
Should the PAC not build in strong mechanisms to protect residents from sleep deprivation and other adverse health effects, the members deciding on this application will be explicitly authorising torture despite clear warning that is the consequence of such actions.
This submission also endorses proposals to roll back the mis-sited wind turbines and for a judicial enquiry into the departmental maladministration that has allowed this situation to occur and the Department of Planning’s systematic delinquency in favouring wind farm developers’ interests at the expense of residents.
The Waubra Foundation Submission covers the following subjects:
Health and Well-being Effects From Excessive Environmental Noise
Knowledge of the NSW Department of Planning and PAC Members
New Acoustic Survey Evidence from Waterloo in South Australia, and Relevance for NSW
What are the Adverse Health Effects?
Wind Turbine Syndrome
Knowledge of Direct Causation of “Annoyance” symptoms from ILFN since 1980’s
Are the symptoms of Wind Turbine Syndrome the same as “annoyance”?
What circumstances and at what distances are people affected by wind turbine ILFN?
Over what period of time is harm caused by ILFN?
What happens with cumulative exposure to ILFN
Judicial recognition of harm from wind turbines
Fundamental Defects in Guidelines and Noise Modelling
Noise monitoring in vicinity of Waterloo Wind Farm
Waterloo Noise Modelling, NHMRC and conflicts of interest
The Precautionary Principle and its Application
Application and Implications for Gullen Range Evaluation
PAC Review: Making Decisions Based on Unreliable Information
Planning Department’s Persistent Maladministration on Noise Impact Implications
PAC Responsibility to prevent Sleep Deprivation Torture of Residents
Appendix A: Permanent Noise Monitoring Mechanism
Annex A to Appendix A: Noise Compliance Plan
Annex B to Appendix A: Illustrative Noise Monitoring System Specifications
Appendix B: Recommended Inter Turbine Separation Distances