Wind farms continue to be a contentious issue. Dr Mark Ragg is currently summarising available evidence for the website windandhealth.org. Many thanks to Mark for this update.
Mark Ragg writes:
Did you know that you’re more likely to be annoyed by wind farms if you’ve renovated your house than if you haven’t?
Did you know that you’re more likely to complain of problems with wind farms in some parts of Australia than others?
That’s what the research tells us. I’m trawling through it and summarising it for the website windandhealth.org, which is funded by the Public Health Association of Australia in an attempt to bring reason to the debate.
Wind turbines have been used to generate power since the 1930s, with a significant expansion during the OPEC oil crisis of the 1970s. They’ve been part of Australian life since the 1990s. In many parts of the world, they’re seen as part of the furniture, like any other power plant. If you want electricity, you have to have somewhere to make it.
It’s like that in many parts of Australia, too. But in other parts, they cause tremendous controversy due to concerns over health. Since about 2009 a number of activists’ groups have campaigned to raise either awareness or fears, depending on your perspective, wherever new wind farms are planned.
That hasn’t always gone well. Organisers of the most prominent group – the Waubra Foundation – are under pressure to return the name to the folk of Waubra, northwest of Melbourne, site of a wind farm. A community petition has been sent to the foundation, asking them to stop using the name Waubra as, they say, the foundation doesn’t represent the view of the town. The foundation says it has more important things to consider.
So far, the research is saying that some people find wind farms disturb their sleep, and that some people (often the same people) are annoyed by them. To date, there are no clear links between wind farms and health.
The National Health and Medical Research is carrying out a comprehensive review – a quick review in 2010 found no issue – and we’ll all be wiser then.
Mark Ragg edits windandhealth.org for the Public Health Association of Australia.