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March 17, 2021

No evidence for wind-turbine syndrome

A major study has found “no reliable or consistent” evidence to support the condition known as wind-turbine syndrome, but did recognise the need for more research into the health effects of one of the country’s most popular forms of renewable power.

The draft Information Paper released by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in late February examined the available scientific evidence and found: “there is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans.”

wind turbine syndrome

The paper was a response to ongoing claims by residents living close to wind farms that the rotating turbines prevented sleep and caused other health problems including headaches.

Warwick Anderson chief executive of the NHMRC said there “is some consistent but poor quality evidence that proximity to wind farms is associated with annoyance and, less consistently, with sleep disturbance and poorer quality of life”.

“However, it is unknown whether these effects are caused by the wind turbines themselves, or by other related factors,” he said.

Renewable energy is lifting its contribution to the total amount of electricity generated in Australia  (over 13 per cent in 2013), and within this, wind power is providing an increasing share (currently 26 per cent).

This is set to rise considerably in coming years as 90 wind farms, currently under construction or proposed, come on line.

Total installed capacity of wind farms is increasing by an average of around 25 per cent per annum per year according to the Clean Energy Council (CEC).

wind turbines

The CEC argues wind-turbine syndrome could be felt by people experiencing stress-related symptoms fueled by misinformation about wind turbines, rather than directly from the workings of the actual turbines.

The NHRMC’s Anderson said the existing body of evidence on wind-turbine syndrome is still small and of low quality.

“Given that the quality of the existing evidence is poor, further research of the highest standard is warranted,” he said.

The NHMRC intends to release a targeted call for research in this area once public consultation has closed and contributions have been considered.

The public is invited to make submissions relating to the information paper via the NHMRC Public Consultation website.

The Waubra Foundation, formed in 2010 to facilitate research into health problems identified by residents living near wind turbines, welcomed the call for new research.

The foundation argues serious medical conditions have been identified in people living, working, or visiting within 10 kilometres of operating wind-turbine developments. These ailments include: chronic sleep deprivation, new onset hypertension, heart attacks and severe depression with suicidal ideas.

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