NHMRC pays for new wind farm reviews
The National Heath and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has put up another $3.3 million for studies on illness and wind turbines.
It is not the first time, and is unlikely to be the last.
The NHMRC's Research Committee has awarded $3.3 million to fight back against the “limited reliable evidence” from previous investigations.
The so-called ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’ has been very difficult to spot, with some residents living close to wind farms complaining of everything from headaches to nausea, while many others report no problems.
“Existing research in this area is of poor quality and targeted funding is warranted to support high quality, independent research on this issue,” NHMRC chief executive Anne Kelso said.
UNSW epidemiologist Professor Guy Marks has been granted $1.94 million to investigate wind turbine noise and sleep, balance, mood and cardiovascular health.
Meanwhile, Flinders University sleep researcher Associate Professor Peter Catcheside will spend $1.36 million on a comprehensive, five-year study.
“It's certainly biologically plausible that wind farm noise is disturbing to human sleep,” Professor Catcheside told the ABC.
His study will see sleepers monitored near wind farms and areas of heavy traffic for comparison.
It will also include some lab experiments, wherein wind turbine noises are played to sleeping volunteers.
“When we designed the study we didn't believe it was possible to do it in a proper well designed study in the field environment,” Professor Catcheside said.
“There are just too many uncontrolled variables in that setting. The only way really to properly answer the question of how disturbing is wind farm noises compared to other noises is to do the in-laboratory experiment.”
Clean Energy Council policy manager Alicia Webb says there are already plenty of studies, both from Australia and overseas, that show no evidence for the negative health effects of wind farms.
“This finding has been backed up by statements from leading national organisations such as the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Association of Acoustical Consultants, which have said there is not enough infrasound produced by wind farms to have a negative effect on humans living near wind farms,” she told reporters.
Other members of the medical research community say there are far more pressing health issues that may have been better uses for the money.