Waubra Foundation Submission: NSW Govt Draft Guidelines for Wind Developments
In response to the NSW Government calling for submissions to its Draft Guidelines for Wind Projects, the Waubra Foundation submitted a detailed critique of the Guidelines, summarising its key points as follows. March 14, 2012
SUMMARY OF KEY ISSUES
On the basis of current limited knowledge, these proposed draft guidelines will inevitably result in serious and predictable harm, to the health of current and future rural residents in New South Wales, from the harmful effects of sound and vibration energy generated by industrial wind turbines.
The New South Wales Department of Health’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of an emerging serious global public health problem with exposure to operating wind turbines, is a gross dereliction of their responsibilities to protect the health of rural citizens who will inevitably be adversely impacted by these developments.
Rural residents are already significantly disadvantaged with respect to decreased access to health care and related services, and suffer a greater illness burden as a result. The additional burden of ill health, which these turbines will directly cause rural citizens, is entirely preventable, if wind turbines are located appropriately. This is clearly a planning issue.
To proceed with the proposed setbacks outlined in the draft guidelines is deliberately ignoring the warnings of a growing number of clinicians and acousticians internationally,1 based on limited but compelling empirical data and adverse event reports, from both residents and their treating doctors. Acousticians such as Professor Phillip Dickinson, from New Zealand, who is well aware of the problems experienced there, has suggested that a 5-10km setback2 would prevent many of the problems, concurring with our advice.
Urgent independent collaborative multidisciplinary acoustics and clinical research is required to investigate the problems, in order to determine what a safe turbine setback distance is, given a multitude of different variables. The planning requirements need to take into account the “worst case” scenarios for noise impacts, because this is what people will be living with.