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REGULATION | Cesar Tordesillas, Australia
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Wind Turbine Syndrome not scientifically proven, says experts

Allegations that wind turbines make people sick are ''not scientifically valid'', according to confidential briefings given to the state government by NSW Health.

 

It described the arguments mounted by anti-wind farm campaigners as "unconvincing."

Documents obtained under freedom-of-information laws show that health officials repeatedly warned ministers last year that there was no evidence for ''wind turbine syndrome'', a collection of ailments including sleeplessness, headaches and high blood pressure that some people believe are caused by the noise of spinning blades.

Planning Minister Brad Hazzard who was responsible for draft guidelines released in December said that " . . . the jury is still out on the health impacts from wind farms.''

Mr Hazzard said his view was consistent with that of NSW Health in that strong planning guidelines minimised any risk. The guidelines include a proviso that anyone living within two kilometres of a proposed turbine can send it through an extra planning process that takes account of health impacts.

NSW Health was scathing of presentations to the government by anti-wind farm groups, including the Landscape Guardians.

One study by Nina Pierpont was dismissed as ''not of sufficient scientific rigour'' by NSW Health.

''This 'study' is not a rigorous epidemiological study; it is a case series of 10 families drawn from a wide range of locations,'' according to the ministerial briefing on July 5 last year. ''This work has not been properly peer reviewed. Nor has it been published in the peer-reviewed literature. The findings are not scientifically valid, with major
methodological flaws stemming from the poor design of the study."

The assessment undermines the claims of an anti-wind farm group, the Waubra Foundation, which had been lobbying the government for a moratorium on new wind farms.

"The documents from NSW Health confirm our belief that the foundation has been 'cherry picking' data that supports its allegations about 'wind turbine syndrome' by talking with people who believe they have … symptoms,'' said a Friends of the Earth spokesman, Cam Walker.

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