Victorian Department of Health, FOI Release – Chronology of Claims of Adverse Health Effects

VICTORIAN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH – RELEASED UNDER FREEDOM OF INFORMATION 

Dot point brief to CHO on chronology of wind farms and claims of adverse health effects (04 Aug 2011)

 

PURPOSE

To update you on past and present situation regarding claims associating wind farms with adverse health effects.

TIMELINE

1. 2001: 1st Victorian wind farms commences operation at Codrington, near Portland.

2. Since then, and all under the previous state Labour Government, a further 7 Industrial wind farms have been built In Victoria, with a further 29 approved for construction. Under that tenure, wind farms did not have set-back distances but rather had to comply with the noise standards of the day.

3. In recent years: Both the Federal and State government commits to reducing green house gas emissions, and the latter has committed to sourc 20% of Victoria’s energy needs from renewable sources by the year 2020.

4. 2009: our first public complaint (according to our files). Most complaints have come from 10-15 complainants, with the majority related to the Waubra wind farm. All have same themes (I.e. headaches, tinnitus, beliefs about increased blood pressure – almost all due to infrasound and low frequency noise)

5. July 2010: NH&MRC published Wind Turbines and Health – A Rapid Review of the Evidence, the general finding from which was ‘There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines

6. Nov 2010: 1st correspondence from Regional Landscape Guardians, whom now advocate on behalf of many complainants.

7. Nov 2010 State Election: From page 19-20 of Victorian Liberal National Coalition Plan for Planning, the Baillieu government’s election commitment – ‘the placement of wind turbines w/JI be no less than two kilometres from the nearest home unless a contract between the resident and wind farm developer is agreed’.

8. 11 Oct 2010: pt correspondence from Dr Laurie, Medical advisor for the Waubra Foundation;

9. 11 January 2011: Dr Laurie meets with Acting Assistant Director Environmental Health (RD) and the Senior Medical Advisor (SSK) to hear evidence for association between wind farms and health effects.

10. February 2011: public health registrar (SW) in the Office of the Chief Health Officer tasked to Identify any gaps in the research or knowledge on the topic that could inform empirical research in Victoria or Australia. This work was undertaken in consultation with EPA Victoria and Is a discussion paper, sent to the NHMRC (In confidence) on June 14, 2011.

11. March 2011: New noise standard with same methodology of the earlier standard (‘floor’ limit, and background +SdB, whichever is greater) but has an Extra provision for locations with ‘high amenity’ (those with low noise levels) for which the ‘floor’ limit Is lowered to 35dB.•

12.19 March 2011: RD, SW, SSK, GP met with the Landscape Guardians and representatives of the Waubra foundation and affected residents in Waubra, to listen to their concerns and inform potential research questions. The next meeting is TBA.

13. 3-1 March 2011: CHO chairs round-table meeting with university researchers to discuss possible knowledge gaps that may reveal evidence of adverse health effects and/or help develop a research question.

14. 7 June 2011: NH&MRC hold scientific meeting, attended by CHO and other departmental staff, to review their current position and discuss new literature since the July 2010 publication,

15. 23 June 2011: Senate Inquiry into the social and Economic Impacts of Wind Farms released its recommendations, amongst which included:

a. ‘…that the Commonwealth Government initiate as a matter of priority thorough, adequately resourced epidemiological and laboratory studies of the possible effects of wind farms on human health;…

b. that the NHMRC review of research should continue, with regular publication’; and

c. ..that the National Acoustics Laboratories conduct a study and assessment of noise impacts of wind farms, including the impacts of infrasound’.

16. post-NH&MRC scientific meeting of 7 June:

a. no research questions applications have been received by the NH&MRC

• b. Currently we are not continuing to work with academic researchers as there has been minimal appetite to support research with Vic $$. No university has Invited us to join a research grant application – despite verbal expressions of Interest – there is a lack of anyone taking the lead (with $$)

17.Ongoing:

a. we are reviewing new literature to identify evidence of adverse •health effects from wind farms; and

b. by earlier commitment (by RD), we will continue to engage with the Regional Landscape Guardians, Waubra Foundation, and .the affected residents.

Dot point brief to CHO on chronology of wind farms and claims of adverse health effects (04Aug2011)
ASSESSMENT DATA – Page 3 of3. Assessment Date:November 2012. Exemptions applied (if any):
File Name: I OCHOdotpointbrief.pdf

Download the Department of Health Document →