Presentation – Gullen Range Wind Farm Planning Assessment Commission Hearing

Presentation to NSW PAC re Gullen Range, 5th September

Michael Crawford, B Sc, BA Admin, M Admin Studies, PhD
Director, Waubra Foundation


•Wind farm noise damages health and well-being over a wide area
•Noise guidelines are seriously deficient
•Noise models are poor predictors of reality
•Developer cannot be relied upon
•DPE track record shows seriously unreliable
•Harm is guaranteed unless robust operational noise protection mechanism imposed
•PAC is legally obliged to protect residents from sleep deprivation torture and other harm



•Stringent noise limits in residences
•Permanent noise monitoring
–funded by developer
–under independent control to detect breaches
–automatic penalty for every breach


•Roll-back miss-sited turbines
•Judicial enquiry

Health Effects From Excessive Noise – Any Source

•Well known to noise and health researchers for many years, excessive noise causes
–Regular repetitive sleep disturbance resulting in chronic sleep deprivation
–Regular physiological stress & psychological stress (being ignored, vilified) resulting in chronic stress
–With known long term consequences – eg cardiovascular diseases, decreased immunity (infections and cancer) and increased mental health disorders

Wind Farm Noise Health Effects

•Acoustic emissions cause direct serious harm via sleep disturbance/deprivation and stress
•Effects are cumulative with prolonged exposure
•With large turbines, (2 MW and above) effect out to at least 10 kms
•Since 1980s frequencies below 200 Hz (ILFN) known to directly cause “annoyance” symptoms, yet ILFN not currently measured in NSW
•NSW and SA Noise Pollution guidelines a “licence to damage” health, not protect it

Particular Health Effects from ILFN

•Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS)
–Nausea, headaches, vertigo, anxiety, distressing symptoms including body vibration, waking in a panicked state
•Vibroacoustic Disease (VAD)
–Tissue pathology in a variety of organs, with conditions such as late onset epilepsy, cardiac valvular thickening and thickening of collagen, eg in blood vessel walls
–Young children & animals also affected, irreversible tissue damage can occur

NSW Guideline Defects

•Concentrate on audible noise in dBA outside dwellings (effectively exclude ILFN & inside homes)
•Mainly average sound levels, and not peaks at specific frequencies (the ear hears the peaks, not the averages)
•Don’t deal with variation in individual audibility thresholds, and progressive sensitisation with ongoing exposure

Industrial Noise Annoyance

Noise Modelling

•Predictions depend on the choice of algorithms used and the data input
–differences in algorithms/software, with the same data are enough to go from well inside guidelines to well outside
–large number of data inputs — each susceptible to error or omissions
•noise specs of turbine model, terrain, atmospherics, wind direction and pattern
•Given all the variables, you can get almost any output you want from the process
•Independent, operational noise measurement generally shows modelling underestimated reality
•Study of Waterloo WF by Hansen team
–about half the residences observed for a week at night had multiple breaches of various guidelines
–breaches observed at a residence 8.7 kms from nearest turbine
–no breaches at near residence is no guarantee OK further away
•Consistent with the pattern of residents’ complaints near most wind farms


•Clear evidence of health and well-being risks
•To protect residents, PAC can’t rely on:
–existing guidelines
–noise modelling
–the developer
–DP&E (long history of maladministration re wind farms and other noisy projects)
•So, if operation approved, it needs rigourous, non-discretionary constraints on noise impact on residents

Noise Management Recommendations

1.That within all dwellings, noise from GRWF be:
–inaudible at all times
–less than 50dB at 8Hz (infrasound)
2.Permanent installation of full spectrum sound monitoring, in-home at 12 dwellings
–independently managed with strong local involvement
–paid for by developer
–to detect breaches
3.1 week automatic shutdown for every recorded breach

Consequence of Omitting Such Control

•PAC members likely to breach UN Convention against Torture, (Australia is signatory)
–UN Committee Against Torture – sleep deprivation is torture
–PAC officials have been repeatedly advised of sleep deprivation for neighbours to wind developments out to 10km.
–Public Officials can be held legally responsible under UN Convention if torture occurs, or continues

Which reinforces the need for . . .

•Rigorous operational noise guidelines
•That protect residents in their homes
•That are inescapable and
•Not subject to the good will of the developer
•Nor the zeal of the Department of Planning
•Such as those we have recommended
Download the Presentation in PDF format →
Read the Waubra Foundation Submission to the PAC Hearing