No reliable evidence has been found that wind farms harm people’s health but more in-depth research is needed, the nation’s peak medical research body says.
It’s also concluded in a draft paper that it’s unlikely that substantial noise could be heard more than 1500 metres away from wind turbines.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) paper, Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health, concludes there “is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans”.
“Noise from wind turbines, including its content of low-frequency noise and infrasound, is similar to noise from many other natural and human-made sources,” it added.
Proximity to wind farms could be associated with “annoyance” and, less often, “sleep disturbance” but it was unclear whether this was the result of wind turbine disturbance or other unrelated factors.
More than a 160 papers were read in depth for the study but only seven met the criteria for quality evidence, prompting NHMRC CEO Professor Warwick Anderson to call for “further research of the highest standard”.
Researchers required that evidence be publicly available and not based exclusively on the stories of participants who had reported health effects.
In a statement on Tuesday NSW Greens MP John Kaye called on the state government to scrap its draft guidelines for wind farms which required projects be assessed for health risks.
“The planning document included the world’s toughest noise standards, an onerous public consultation regime and a requirement to address health issues that are not real,” he said.
The wind turbine action group The Waubra Foundation welcomed the NHMRC’s call for more quality research, saying it had been calling for that since 2010.
It said such research should include acoustic testing inside and outside homes along with monitoring of sleep, blood pressure and heart rates to determine any harm to people living near turbines.
The public is able to comment on the NHMRC’s information paper until April 11.