Responses to NHMRC Draft Information Paper & Systematic Literature Review

Critical Comment on the Systematic Literature Review by the Waubra Foundation

Read the Waubra Foundation’s Open Letter to the NHMRC →


In July 2010, the NHMRC issued their first Literature review (the Rapid Review) which was widely criticised, both nationally and internationally.

In March 2011, the Senate Community Affairs References Committee conducted an inquiry into the Social and Economic Impacts of Rural Wind Farms. NHMRC provided a written submission to the inquiry and CEO Professor Warwick Anderson eventually gave evidence to the Committee on 31st March, 2011. The Committee’s report was tabled in parliament on 23 June 2011, and recommended research “as a priority” with seven specific recommendations. No research was funded by the NHMRC, and there was no targeted call for research inviting researchers to submit research proposals. Instead, the NHMRC held a Scientific Forum in June 2011.

Following this, the NHMRC commissioned an independent systematic review of the existing scientific literature to examine the possible impacts of wind farms on human health, including audible and inaudible noise.

The NHMRC Wind Farms and Human Health Reference Group (the Reference Group) was convened to oversee the systematic review of the literature. The Reference Group comprised experts in environmental epidemiology, sleep, social psychology, acoustics/sound engineering and a community representative, and was chaired by Professor Bruce Armstrong. The Chairman of the Waubra Foundation Mr Peter Mitchell was an observer on that Reference Group.

Systematic Literature Review and the Draft Information Statement February 2014

The NHMRC’s Draft Information Paper was released in February 2014 and is available here.

The Draft Information Paper was based on a ‘Systematic Literature Review’ commissioned by the NHMRC, and performed by the University of Adelaide. The Systematic Literature Review is available here.

View the call by the NHMRC for further public submissions and comments on the Draft Information Statement →

When the Draft Information Statement and the Systematic Literature Review were released in February 2014, the Waubra Foundation posted a statement welcoming the NHMRC’s call for further research into the adverse health effects associated with proximity to wind turbines.

When the two documents were carefully considered, the Foundation was concerned at the ignorance of many of the statements and conclusions made in both the Systematic Literature Review and the NHMRC’s Draft Information statement. Close inspection of the University of Adelaide’s Systematic Literature Review revealed a concerning pattern of omissions and miscategorisations of relevant research, which resulted in their exclusion from the Literature Review. There was also significant restriction of the eligible research considered, because of the very narrow exclusion criteria imposed by the NHMRC Panel members on the authors of the Systematic Literature Review

The NHMRC has now released its Expert Reviews in full and these are available here.

Responses to the NHMRC’s Draft Information statement, and the 2014 Systematic Literature Review

Some of the responses by others to the NHMRC’s call for comments have been sent to the Foundation and are reproduced below with the author’s permission.

Crawford, Dr Michael PhD retired public servant

Hansen, Emeritus Professor Colin, University of Adelaide. Chief Investigator on an Australian Research Council funded research project on impact of noise from wind farms on rural communities.

Krogh, Carmen, BScPharm, researcher, retired Canadian Pharmacist

Morris, Mrs Mary concerned community member and researcher, author of the only Australian research paper included in the NHMRC Systematic Literature Review

McPherson, Geoff Marine Fisheries Acoustic Counsultant who has written to the AMA and included comments on the NHMRC draft statement

Palmer, Willliam K.G., P.Eng Engineer who has written to both the AMA and the NHMRC

Shatrov, Father Sergei Holy Transfiguration Monastery, near to the Boco Rock wind facility currently being constructed

Watts, Dr Alan, OAM Rural General Practitioner, New South Wales