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New study: wind turbine syndrome is spread by scaremongers

A study of mine published last night delivers a double whammy to those who argue that wind turbines cause health problems in communities. Earlier this week researchers at the University of Auckland published…

Wind turbine syndrome seems to be caused by fear and anxiety spread by anti-wind farm groups. Image from shutterstock.com

A study of mine published last night delivers a double whammy to those who argue that wind turbines cause health problems in communities.

Earlier this week researchers at the University of Auckland published an experimental study showing that people primed by watching online information about health problems from wind turbines, reported more symptoms after being exposed to recorded infrasound or to sham (fake) infrasound.

The study provided powerful evidence for the nocebo hypothesis: the idea that anxiety and fear about wind turbines being spread about by anti-wind farm groups, will cause some people hearing this scary stuff to get those symptoms.

The double whammy for the scaremongers comes in the form of an historical audit of all complaints made about wind farm noise or health problems on all of Australia’s 49 wind farms. Australia’s first wind farm, which still operates today, started generating power in 1993 at Esperance in Western Australia. Twenty years on, our 49 wind farms have seen 1471 turbines turning for a cumulative total of 328 years.

In recent years, and particularly since 2009, we’ve heard a lot about health complaints involving wind turbines, thanks to the efforts of groups such as the Waubra Foundation (none of whose directors live in or near the Victorian town of Waubra) and the interconnected Landscape Guardians. And, just as the nocebo hypothesis would predict, the great bulk of health and noise complaints have arisen since 2009: 82% of complainants made their first complaint after that date.

There are some 32,677 people living within 5km of these 49 wind farms around Australia, and just 120 – or one in 272 – of them have ever made formal complaints, appeared in news reports or sent complaining submissions to government. Moreover, 81 (68%) of these are people living near just five wind farms, each of which have been heavily targeted by wind farm opponent groups.

Our study tested four hypotheses relevant to the nocebo hypothesis:

  1. Many wind farms of comparable power would have no history of health or noise complaints from nearby residents (suggesting that factors that don’t relate to the turbines may explain the presence or absence of complaints)

  2. Wind farms which had been subject to complaints would have only a small number of such complaining residents among those living near the farms (suggesting that individual or social factors may be required to explain different “susceptibility”)

  3. Few wind farms would have any history of complaints consistent with recent claims that turbines cause acute health problems (suggesting that explanations beyond turbines are needed to explain why acute problems are reported)

  4. Most health and noise complaints would date from after the advent of anti-wind farm groups beginning to foment concerns about health (from around 2009) and that wind farms subject to organised opposition would be more likely to have histories of complaint than those not exposed to such opposition (suggesting that health concerns may reflect “communicated” anxieties).

All four hypotheses were strongly supported by our study:

  • Almost two thirds (63%) of all wind farms, including half of those with large (>1MW) turbines which opponents particularly demonise, have never been the subject of complaint

  • The proportion of nearby residents complaining is minuscule

  • Some complainants took many years to voice their first complaint, when wind farm opponents regularly warn that the ill effects can be almost instant

  • Health complaints were as rare as proverbial rocking horse droppings until the scare-mongering groups began megaphoning their apocalyptic, scary messages to rural residents.

Health complaints were rare until the wind turbine scare-mongering began. Tejvan Photos

The first records of claims being made that wind turbines could cause health problems date from 2003, when a British GP wrote an unpublished report about just 36 people scattered around the UK who all said the turbines made them ill.

A Victorian country GP followed this up with an even smaller study in 2004, where after dropping 25 questionnaires to people living near the local turbines, eight reported problems like sleep difficulties, stress and dizziness.

Among the many problems with this study is the fact that in any community, regardless of the presence or absence of wind turbines, about a quarter to a third will have sleep problems, nearly half will have had a headache in the last week, and nearly one in six will have felt dizzy. When someone suggests that wind turbines – which some rural people don’t much like the look of – might be causing such problems, this “rural myth” gets traction.

The rhino in the room for those who would dismiss the nocebo hypothesis is the small problem-ette of explaining why there are so many thousands of people living near wind farms who never complain. And of why between 1993 and 2004, there were no health complaints but 13 wind farms operating, including five with large turbines.

The standard response is that only some people are “susceptible”, just like only some people get motion sickness. Our data produce big problems for that explanation: it is implausible that no susceptible people would live around any wind farm in Western Australia where there have been zero complaints, around almost all older farms, nor around nearly half of the more recent farms. No credible hypotheses other than those implicating psycho-social factors have been advanced to explain this variability.

In the early days, those who didn’t like the turbines, complained that they looked ugly and were blots on pristine bush landscapes. A few worried that they might kill birds and bats (they do, but at a tiny fraction of the rate that plate glass, cars and feral cats kill). But as this lengthy 2004 report shows, health problems were rarely mentioned, with the few who did being seen as doing the cause no favours.

But then opponents decided to push the health issue: when someone says they are ill, you are supposed to be sympathetic, not sceptical. It was always going to be a winning strategy. My collection of health problems opponents have named now numbers 216.

Until now, this strategy has worked well for them, but the two studies now out should pour a large bucket of cold water on this core claim, as should even cursory consideration of the weird and wonderful claims being made by some of their leaders.

Australia’s high priestess of wind turbine syndrome, the unregistered doctor Sarah Laurie claimed last year that vibrations from wind turbines can “perceptibly rock stationary cars even further than a kilometre away from the nearest wind turbine” and that turbines can make people’s lips vibrate "as from a distance of 10km away”.

A pharmacist from near Yass in NSW, George Papadopoulos, claims to be able to experience the “problem” at remarkable distances,

Where does the problem stop? This is a difficult question to answer. On two occasions when the ILFN (infrasound and low frequency noise) nuisance was at its worst, I travelled out west. On one occasion I discovered that it appeared to have dissipated at Wee Jasper, 70km away from the closest turbines. On another occasion, and by far the worst of all days, the problem had dissipated when arriving at Young about 100km from the closest turbines.

But don’t worry – Mr Papadopoulos assures us:

Truly these figures appear subjective, outrageous, and for most, impossible to believe. However, I am reporting my findings that have taken hours and days to determine. I’m not just plucking figures out of the air.

Further reading: How the power of suggestion generates wind farm symptoms by Fiona Crichton

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122 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Dan Cass
    Dan Cass is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Lobbyist for the forces of good at Dan Cass & Co

    Extraordinary story. Glad to see the facts, for a change...

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    1. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dan Cass

      Dan, you have missed the simple facts that pro-wind industry professors like to do research WELL AWAY from wind farms. The onsite research has been left to others who have much more integrity

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    2. Craig Minns

      Self-employed

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      Surely a self-protective measure George, driven by the realisation that other people's wind is more offensive than their own and hence best avoided...

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    3. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Dan Cass

      Dan, you sell the stuff - surely there's a bit of bias in your support for this article.

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    4. Dan Cass
      Dan Cass is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Lobbyist for the forces of good at Dan Cass & Co

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      I can't stop you from making nasty personal attacks and I don't want to respond with any of my own.

      Simon has done scientific research and it is credible.

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    5. Dan Cass
      Dan Cass is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Lobbyist for the forces of good at Dan Cass & Co

      In reply to John Phillip

      Attack the greenies so you can avoid the inconvenient truth? Nicely played, Grumpy Old Man.

      Here's the facts; I donate far more to Hepburn Wind as a voluntary Director, than I make back as a return on my small shareholding.

      If you are like most grumpy old men in Australia, you probably have more invested in fossil fuels via superannuation, than I have invested in HW.

      The allegation that I am somehow financially corrupted by my role, is laughable.

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    6. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Dan Cass

      G'day Dasn,

      I've done a fair bit of reading up on Hepburn Wind and must say I reckon it's a model for how to go about the business myself.

      One thing I am a little confused by - there's a suggestion - not quite explicit - that the turbines are providing power to the town. My investigations in NSW suggest that this is not possible here at least and the best we could do would be to feed our production into the grid and - if production is estimated to meet the overall demand of the town then…

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    7. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Dan Cass

      No Dan, it's just that the claim of vested interests is one that flies around these pages regularly. You certainly make part of your income from wind power and I think you should have declared that fact.

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  2. Rubens Camejo

    logged in via Facebook

    Congratulations on the study, Simon

    I first read it on Lenore Taylor's article on SMH and have shared it on FB and Twitter....... It's about time some facts were exposed

    I await with interest the Flat Earthers' reactions.

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    1. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens maybe you could congratulate Chapman on this peculiar flop of logic. I quote from his study:

      “Companies were explicitly asked to not send details of any private complaints which could identify those complaining, unless these complaints had been made public by the complainants.”

      In small rural communities this is almost impossible, especially if those complaining are the duped wind turbine hosts... And further down the lofty professor writes:

      “Nearly all those who complained did not seek anonymity, being named in media reports or not electing to have their parliamentary submissions anonymised. However, we have chosen not to list their names in this report.”

      So why was it so difficult to consider the "private reports" mentioned in the former quote? Who does consider and determine what information may identify the complainant - particularly if that individual was the wind turbine host?

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  3. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    Thanks for this article.

    A couple of days ago we were accosted by a few people who were protesting a proposed wind farm on Yorke Peninsula (SA). We have sent them a copy.

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  4. Blair Donaldson

    logged in via Twitter

    Nice to see some facts backed by solid evidence rather than the garbage trotted out by the anti-wind mob who just love anecdotes but never have peer-reviewed evidence of their own. And as we have seen, when their claims are disproven, they shift the goalposts.

    Great article Simon.

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  5. Felix MacNeill

    Environmental Manager

    Brilliant - thanks heaps Simon.

    I don't suppose you'd consider doing a similar study on smart meters, would you?

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  6. Sue Ieraci

    Public hospital clinician

    Simon - can you tackle water fluoridation next?

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  7. Neville Mattick

    Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

    Of course if we don't act on Climate Change by ending our dependence on burning fossil fuels then the 'perceived symptoms' of WTS will pale into insignificance by comparison to the alternative.

    I was appalled to see the state of the magnificent Hunter Valley as we travelled from 'out West' last weekend to see the mighty Neil Young near Cessnock.

    Huge mountains of subsoil and rock way off in the distance, I cannot fathom how deniers' can condone mining like I just saw and then turn around complaining that Wind Turbines cause sickness. There clearly is another undercurrent here.

    A montage of the Hunter Valley mines compared to a ridge line of Wind Turbines on green pasture with grazing stock - I KNOW which will sustain and which will destroy.

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    1. Michel Syna Rahme

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      If one drives south down the New England Highway through the beautiful Hunter Valley and into a town called ‘Scone’ what will you see 5 minutes north of the town alongside the road? You will see a very large unmissable billboard sign, I think erected on private land. What does the sign say?

      “SAY NO TO WIND FARMS THEY DESTROY THE LANDSCAPE”

      (or something like that if they are not the exact words)

      Now that’s a bit rich, when 5 minutes down the road all you see are massive holes, Big Massive Holes, big ones, big coal pits, a lot of them. And they are talking about landscape! What else do you see? Very large unmissable billboard signs erected by coal companies. What do the signs say? How much these companies and big holes contribute to the country. But not much about how they destroy the landscape and our ecosystems!

      Can we all urge the residents of Scone to remove the sign and perhaps remind them that it is an unfortunate contradiction!

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    2. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      Well said Michel and Neville, you have perfectly highlighted the double standards and curious myopia of the anti-windfarm mob. Their faux concern for the landscape and people's health rings a bit hollow when none of them voice concerns about the dangers of coalmining, coal-fired power stations, nuclear power and its attendant waste products, coal seam gas etc. Let alone the damage these industries inflict on the landscape.

      They trot out the same tired, refuted, outdated excuses and completely…

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    3. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      It is undoubtedly true that the fossil fuel industry has its share of shills and spoilers running a scare campaign about the ‘ultrasound’ health effects of wind generation. However, not all people with reservations are industry shills, employees or sneering old geologists. In my case my history of environmental activism commenced with the struggle, eventually successful, to prevent the sand mining of Myall lakes. Most of the readers here will have to look that one up. There’s a long history of critical…

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    4. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Anthony, there is no doubt that a very small percentage of individuals have come to believe that a wind turbine spinning nearby will likely do them in. The reasons for their misunderstanding are many. Propaganda from anti-wind activists, failure to understand the basics of the technology, misunderstandings etc all contribute to their hysteria.

      For the sake of clarity, I live near two existing wind farms, 9 km and 40 km respectively with another under construction about 25 km away. Some might suggest…

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    5. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Anthony,

      One other point I forgot to mention. Windfarm opponents and climate change denialist (often one and the same) like to wax lyrical about visual amenity while completely ignoring or forgetting the fact that just about every bit of farmland in Australia was cleared from its natural condition to facilitate farming operations.

      Their special pleading that the local environment is unique or special rings hollow when you consider the history of any region. We are all interlopers and I would argue that if we are to require and consume energy, we should be using the cleanest sources as well as limiting our use wherever possible.

      The country/city argument is irrelevant. The fact is that many rural regions are very good places for windfarms, water catchments, national parks, electricity production from other sources and tourist getaways. That's just the way it is.

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    6. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Excellent - we can expect to see wind turbines popping up all over Sydney and Melbourne soon then Blair. Hmmmm?

      Far from being irrelevant the country/city argument is anything but irrelevant. You don't have to look at them, live under them... you city dwellers might think that's irrelevant - and of course, for you lot, it is.

      One of the neat things about the new generation of vertical axis gadgets - aside from being rather pretty - they have a really small physical footprint... you can…

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    7. bill parker

      editor

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Why not convert that two pronged concrete ugliness on top of the Bolte Bridge? Perfect site for two turbine to feed the rich and famous next door!

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    8. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to bill parker

      Strewth they've named a bridge after that old crook ... I wouldn't be crossing that too often.

      Down at Lakes Entrance there was a rusting old garbage scow of a dredge used for keeping the channel open and buggering up the estuary ...named in honour of the wife of former Premier Rupert Hamer... the April Hamer.

      Gotta love the Australian sense of humour.

      All our abominations should be named after the rich and powerful.

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    9. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, I'd appreciate it if next time you bothered to read the entirety of my comment rather than stop at the first sentence before replying with some snarky comment.

      I clearly stated I live in the country. I have only ever lived in the country.

      As for turbines popping up all over Sydney or Melbourne, that wouldn't worry me in the least but as you are a proponent of toy turbines, why aren't you hounding the city burgers to install them by the tens of thousands?

      You should do a little homework on the limitations of vertical axis turbines and then consider why manufacturers aren't building large ones.

      Are you seriously arguing that 1000 x 5 kW turbines are better than a single 5 MW turbine? Never mind all the additional materials, wiring, infrastructure, and the genuine threat to wildlife such faster spinning turbines would create.

      There is no doubt that small-scale turbines have a place in the market but they will only ever be for supplementary or remote use.

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    10. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Toys eh Blair ... that will only EVER be for supplementary or remote use eh... a prophet has come amongst us... we are blessed indeed.

      Oddly enough I have been studying and working on vertical turbines for several years - built three ... only little ... cost - all under $25. Perfect for small applications and home generation.

      And they are getting really big - you'd like that I guess... 500,000 home outputs (or the equivalent of 1,000 horizontal axis set-ups) for the mag lev systems being developed…

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    11. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, you really should read your references through to the end, 400 to 5000 W units are peanuts compared to even small horizontal axis turbines. I sincerely hope larger units are developed but the fact is, meaningful energy production from the turbines you propose is non-existent to date.

      Until your mythical 1 GW maglev is constricted and producing power reliably, I'll put your claims on the on the would be if they could be self. Keep dreaming.

      Meanwhile in the real world, the folks who actually know about the technology of wind energy will continue developing larger turbines that produce meaningful quantities of electricity.

      If large-scale (greater than 2 MW) vertical axis turbines were practical, explain why none have been used in windfarms to date? I note you failed to answer the question earlier, would you please answer the question this time?

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    12. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, these piddling little solar panels we are seeing everywhere ... useless.... not "meaningful"... really? Or is it because you just really like Big Things and cannot see what a decentralised power capacity might look like ... even when it is directly overhead. Perhaps under your nose.

      This dismissive attitude of yours is not new actually ... aeroplanes, motor cars, computers even electricity itself have all been dismissed by "realists" - practical men with no imagination who see the future…

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    13. Neville Mattick

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Blair is correct Peter, the vertical axis stuff just 'doesn't cut it' when you talk about harvesting Wind energy.

      A standard turbine has about 16Tonnes of thrust on the main shaft at production from the vast swept area.

      I also agree that disseminated power generation is good, but large scale has economies of scale that hundreds of small turbines or solar can never equal for efficiency.

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    14. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      "... small turbines or solar can never equal for efficiency...."

      Never is such a big word Neville.

      Have a look at some of those links I've posted regarding the folks who reckon that VAWTs have enough potential to completely outclass the inherent inefficiencies of Big Fans. Not all dills and deluded surely.

      How much thrust do you get from 1000 small turbines that operate at a much much wider range of wind speeds, don't make any noise, don't even look like they're moving at a distance and…

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    15. Neville Mattick

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes you are correct Peter, 'never' is a blunt statement and I may have to eat my word one day.

      Have had a look at your link(s), the maglev seems to be a hoax let alone producing any MW's.

      Think I'd rather maintain one horizontal beast than 1,000 others' all that interconnection, phase matching and so on, still as you say the area is advancing.

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    16. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      No, no Peter. BIG is what Blair needs. Its a phallic thing, for sure. Happy St Pat's BTW. Sydney is full of vile green clad drunks one of whom was wearing a Dr Seuss Cat in a Hat tophat bearing the name of 'Heineken beer. That'd be the bloody O'Heinekens from the wrong side of the Liffey. Faugh Irish the lot who don't grasp that the true spirit o' the ole country involves getting drunk and then blowing up a Lord or two!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnOKN8mdmNM

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    17. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I once came across the Bruce small Memorial car park in the back of Surfers. I thought that just.

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    18. Lyndal Breen

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      I agree. I love to see a row of wind turbines and am unable to understand how the sight offends some people. No one seems to complain about the sight of huge transmission lines marching across the countryside.

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  8. Garpal Gumnut

    Retired Publican

    Chapman's study is admirable, as are all studies on priming, and the suggestibility of men and women. It may have been more worthwhile if he had data on the aesthetic perception of of "wind farms " by participants. Peek-a boo is a more qualitative answer to the phenomena observed.

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  9. Peter Sommerville

    Scientist & Technologist

    Simon,
    Whilst fundamentally I agree with you, the fact is you are not living in the proximity of a wind farm. However the elegance of the science, you are really saying to those who do live in such areas suck it and accept it. Such is the arrogance of the left.

    I wonder sometimes what you and your ilk would say if a monstrous wind turbine was constructed within 500 metres of your front door. I strongly suspect that you and your neighbours would launch objections.

    Denigrating those who report symptoms consequential to the construction of wind turbines within their space is not very constructive. Indeed it is destructive. We need to find a more positive way forward.

    But I should declare an interest. Personally I believe. Wind turbines are a massive waste of money. We could have achieved far great reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and a much more reliable energy network had we built gas powered generating facilities instead.

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    1. Simon Chapman

      Professor of Public Health at University of Sydney

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, I live in the inner west of Sydney about 150m under the main flight path. Planes often go over every 2 mins. 100m away there's a busy road. 300m away there's a railway line into central Sydney. The noise that I and 100s of 1000s of others live with is incomparably more than anyone living near a wind farm lives with. Why is pointing out the very obvious nocebo issues involved in all this "denigrating"?

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    2. Marion Wilson
      Marion Wilson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      The cost of doing something to reduce our greenhouse gas emmissions is far cheaper than the price some have already had to pay toward the cost of global warming. This is a step in the right direction though a very small step indeed. Extreme weather events are killing people and animals and destroying property in Australia. We were warned forty years ago that global warming would cause extreme weather events and like Simon we have been saying "it's too expensive" , "I don't want to pay" "I'll be dead for it gets really bad so the solution is not my problem" For 200 hundred years we have been pumping pollution into the atmosphere and into the sea. We know what pollution does, just thought that the recepticles were too big to fail. We were wrong. Not only must we stop doing it but we have to set about cleaning up 200 hundred years worth of refusal to keep ourselves clean because it reduced profits..

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    3. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Simon Chapman

      Peter, I too, much like the lofty Chapman, spent most of my life in the inner West of Sydney, very close to a main flight path, 50m from one busy road and 70m from another even busier road, across the road were the railway lines about 30-40m away.

      I now live on what was once a very peaceful quite rural property out of Yass. Despite this, I have found the low frequency noise from wind turbines 35km away at times so distressing that I LEFT HOME FOR THE NIGHT AND SLEPT IN MY CAR further out west on many occassions.

      Nothing seems to disturb me when I visit Sydney and sleep in a house on main road.

      The nocebo hypothesis of Chapman is perhaps better applied to those who hyperventilate at the thought of not stuffing all of rural Australia with wind turbines!

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    4. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Simon Chapman

      Simon,

      I may have been far to subtle for you.

      But perhaps I have to hit you with a hammer. I repeat:

      "Denigrating those who report symptoms consequential to the construction of wind turbines within their space is not very constructive. Indeed it is destructive. We need to find a more positive way forward."

      Frankly I don't care about your apologia pro vitae sua concerning your own circumstances. I lived in Sydney under flight paths too - I had a friend whose emotional reaction to the…

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    5. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Marion Wilson

      Marion,

      I could engage in a long debate about this but this is not the forum to do so. May I state some facts. The USA is decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions at a faster rate than the EU, without any emission trading schemes. The reason for this is that they are moving to gas as an energy source.

      Conversion of Australia's coal powered generating systems to gas would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by far more than the money that has been wasted on wind power subsidies, and solar rebates and feed in tariffs. Just do the maths - it is so obvious.

      As for the extreme weather events - I suggest you do some serious research instead of relying on the propaganda generated by the Climate Commission.

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    6. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Simon Chapman

      I moved to the bush after 25 years of living in the inner west precisely because I could no longer tolerate the noise, overcrowding, dirt and nuisance of urban life. It was a trade off - a loss of amenity in some areas of life for a gain in others. What you fail to understand is that many people who live in the bush do so precisely because they don't want to reside in the midst of an industrial sub-station. We object as much to CSG and coal mines as we do to wind farms because we don't like the sight…

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    7. Simon Chapman

      Professor of Public Health at University of Sydney

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Hi Anthony, I appreciate that, but I'm unaware that when people move to the bush that there is some understanding that rural areas are and will always be immune from any development - as if the bush was a total heritage area or national park, off limits to any development. Country people get to enjoy many of the benefits that those of us who live in cities pay for with our reduced amenity. Cities have factories, ports, international airports &c that provide country people with all their consumer goods. The argument that "City people choose to live in the city .. we don't -- leave us in peace ..we don't want anything in our environment that we don't like" seems the apotheosis of self-regarding NIMBYism to me.

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    8. Michel Syna Rahme

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      I've lived in the city and in the bush, they both have positives and negatives, pros and cons, but overall I prefer the bush. Preserving landscape is important but life goes forward not backwards and there are pros and cons with that evolution. But Anthony, people in the bush need electricity also, they need services, you live in the 'bush' and it seems you have a computer and a decent enough Internet connection to connect to the world and other people in the bush and also people in the city who…

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    9. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Michel Syna Rahme

      Ah yes, sacrices for the greater good ... and you will wear the sacrifice and we will have the future powered by a warm inner glow.

      It is precisely that attitude and that comment - torn straight from the mouths of CSG explorers, open cut coal operators and the like - that rubs people up the wrong way and makes them susceptible to these sorts of suggestions and psychological "illnesses". They feel like they are being kicked around and "sacrificed" for the greater good... elsewhere. And they are right.

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    10. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Simon Chapman

      Simon, the problem is that you've been thoroughly outmaneuvered in these stakes by the Landscape Guardians and the Waubra Foundation who know better than you how to manipulate sentiment in the bush. Galling as that must be for you let me suggest that accusations of NIMBY-ism don't help. From where I sit your attitude reeks of careerist kiss up and kick down. Besides, I do care for my backyard which takes 40 minutes to walk from the back door up to the top of the ridge; you, I daresay, care deeply for your inner west space across which most men could urinate with ease. see you at the barricades.

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    11. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Simon Chapman

      Simon, do you have any clue about whether there would be any rural areas spared from wind turbines if we aimed at a RET of 20%, let alone 50%...

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    12. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Michel Syna Rahme

      Michel, any clues about which rural area I should move to? Any budget going to pay for that? If they are causing my head to vibrate on the odd occasion, maybe I should just accept a nomadic life "on the run" fleeing from one area to another as wind turbines go up everywhere!

      I think it is ever clear, that common sense and wind turbines don't always mix.

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    13. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      That's right George. we ain't talking a scattered few wind mines - these people are planning the wholescale industrialisation of the bush.

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    14. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      And the usual suspects are being played into making the sacrifice; why not impose wind mines on towns that are depend social security dependent? I wonder what the model is for technocratic abuse of an entire population. I think it might be the PRC; they really know how to deal with effing peasants! Cheers.

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    15. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Anthony, one thing I admire about the contraversial and politically incorrect and sometime highly inappopriate Alan Jones is his emphasis in the phrase "brain DEADDD Lxxxx Party".

      Mind you I think there are main "brain DEADDD" politicians in the Liberal/National Party also - particularly the ones who role out the red carpet to the wind industry for the sake of publicity and votes.

      There are however some politicians such as the Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, who as NSW Premier stated that you could fill all of NSW with widn turbines, kill all the kookaburras and still be only making only 10% of the state's electricity. Maybe an underestimate, because he failed to account for offshore wind resources...

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  10. Craig Minns

    Self-employed

    Like so many "social constructions", WTS is a sham, driven by self-interested advocates rather than by critical thinking on the part of the people who are the targets of the advocates.

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  11. Craig Steel

    Miner

    I like mining. I make huge amounts of cash out of it, but I would rather have wind turbines on every hilltop and solar panels on every roof than the current system of coal powered generators.

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  12. Ron Chinchen

    Retired (ex Probation and Parole Officer)

    Well I guess that took the wind out of the sails of some of the opposing arguments.

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  13. Alex Cannara

    logged in via Facebook

    Interesting this author has a paper on "trolls", while calling names like "scaremongers".

    But like the other, giddy article here, on how wind complainers aren't sick (just liars to be ignored), what these authors could indeed serve readers with are facts about wind's inherent wastefulness, not just of taxpayer $.

    So, the people in my old apartment in NYC didn't get sick from all the subway, fire & bus noise, so they had no right to complain?

    Or, the neighbor farm gets conned by a wind 'developer…

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  14. Peter Ormonde

    Farmer

    It's most excellent that George Papadapoulos isn't just plucking his figures out of the air. Adorable really.

    Great piece Simon and nicely writ.

    Regular Conversationalists might know that I am no big fan of Big Fans. But none of my criticisms arise from the hysterical WTS and infrasound. Not directly anyway. Nor have I found the vast heaps of bat bits and feathers sufficently odious to be hauling them down.

    But I do have issues with the way we are deploying them and the locations we choose…

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Hugh McColl

      "Socio-waffle"? That's an interesting word from a geographer. You sure you're not an engineer?

      The bible for locating windfarms in Australia is the CSIRO guide to wind resources [http://www.csiro.au/resources/pf16q]. Now for some curious reason this looks only at land based sites - not even islands.

      I'm advised that this was a deliberate decision when the original study was undertaken because at a 40% premium for off shore locations (which was then the case in 2003) "someone" assumed that…

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    2. Neville Mattick

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Hello Peter, just not seeing any real evidence for your Wind Farm locations.

      Please see the Wind Farm Map on this NSW Government site: http://bit.ly/15RETSB

      The latest research there points to the inner highlands of the State of NSW where there is some deeper studies being conducted into the feasibility of Wind Farms.

      You say 'windshear' and here I think you mean "tree flagging" as indicative of the available wind energy.

      Tree Flagging is fairly rare in Australia from what I have seen…

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    3. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      Yeah - you're right Neville ... too much time spent shearing my trees. The term I was groping for was "wind pruning".... but you've got the idea - give you a nice cheap anenometer data logger your tree.

      And you're right - not much of that windpruning/flagging in Australia ... don't have the wind. That's the problem. Lots of it offshore though and reasonably consistent across seasons. It's the latter point that is more significant than the strength of the wind - it's the constancy of it. Rather…

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    4. Hugh McColl

      Geographer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, your last two sentences don't connect with the rest of your piece. Not sure if you were attempting a cheap shot or an uninformed observation but anyway back to the economics and socio-waffle. I'm pretty sure the wind farm industry is a 'market' and markets are not guided by bibles. Sure, there might be a list of the best places to locate wind farms according to wind resources but automatically that puts one parameter ahead of economics doesn't it? So a location "off Sydney Heads" or on…

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    5. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes, Peter I don't pluck figures out of the air, I have spent many night sleeping in my car at those distances quoted.

      You and others just sit away and enjoy yourselves gossipping and laughing, whilst others go through immense suffering.

      Next time you sip your coffee, perhaps enrich it with a couple of drops of human blood, and just visualise the choice of drinking the blood of humans who are harmed by various industries, but particularly from the most disposable and useless wind industry.

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    6. Craig Minns

      Self-employed

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      George, I worked around Yass, Canberra, Gundagai and Tarcutta for several years in the 80s. There is a lot of vehicle noise from the Hume (which I helped build, sorry). What do you hear from wind generators that is different to the noise of trucks on the highway?

      Where in the Yass district are you located?

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    7. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Craig Minns

      Craig, about 17km NNE of the town. The traffic noise is scantily audible on very quiet and still mornings, particularly on the ridges.

      What do I hear from the wind turbines? This is a question that requires a lot of onsite exposure becuase the noise is rather unique in quality and intensity and I have not been able to identify anything similar but has a similar feeling to the sound coming from town water resevoirs (I presume at time of rapid filling) and the audible characteristics of constant…

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    8. Craig Minns

      Self-employed

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      Hi George, I'm reluctant to display my ignorance, but what is "dBG"?

      Might I suggest that part of what you're experiencing may be internal, along the lines of tinnitus? Alternatively, it may be due to all sorts of extraneous noise, including the use of truck jacobs brakes on the stretch of Hume between Bredalbane and Gunning, where there are some quite steep sections still. Is your home in a gully/valley facing south-ish?

      The Yass area is also underlain with lots of hollows and caverns in very hard, dense rock (dacite, granite and rhyodacite, for the most part) which can resonate quite a lot. I recall that whilst working on the Yass bypass it was quite common to hear noise transmitted through the rock from machines working several km away.

      The rocks themselves ring like bells when struck.

      The other thing to consider is that you are under the main Sydney-Melbourne flightpath.

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    9. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Craig Minns

      Craig,

      Follow the link above given in Chapman's article where I discuss the question of tinnitus and perception of low frequency noise. dBG is a measure of infrasound and low frequency noise between a few hertz and till the about 25 or so hetz.

      My property is totally covered on the southern end by hills and has no visible path to the highway except from the top ridge point - it is north facing. The property is predominantly aldecite and dacite. Should I have removed the trees there is a nice…

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    10. Craig Minns

      Self-employed

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      Hi George, it does sound compelling, but correlation is not causation. I do agree that Simon is a bit harsh in dismissing your subjective experience on the basis of statistical averages. I suspect he'd not appreciate the subjective experience of gay men being dismissed because they form only 10% of the population, for example.

      I can't recall what mining activity is taking place in that area at present, but that may be another possible source. Up around Wee Jasper the caves are known to produce…

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    11. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Hugh McColl

      Massive government subsidies do not a market make.

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    12. Craig Minns

      Self-employed

      In reply to Michel Syna Rahme

      Thanks Michel, although without actual data it's not worth much except perhaps as a set of ideas for investigation.

      Given it started quite suddenly, I'd be looking for some kind of correlating event other than the wind farm. Perhaps RTA might have done some pavement investigations and noise monitoring that would help to shed some light. I've not kept up with current projects down that way, but even things like diversions around road construction might be putting traffic onto a poorer quality road.

      90 tonnes of truck travelling at 100km/h has a lot of energy and a lot of "transducers" (tyres) to transfer that energy to the ground surface.Not only that, but 600HP V8 engines make a lot of noise at the sorts of frequencies George is reporting.

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    13. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Craig Minns

      Craig,

      I don't know which mining industry works on New Year's Eve and major public holidays. I you have any insights I will welcome them.

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    14. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Craig Minns

      Craig, I thank you for your suggestions. Certainly there is more to exclude that what I initially thought of.

      If however you wish to experience the drama first hand please contact me on geo#pap#@#telstraa.com. (remove the hashes and the extra 'a')

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    15. bill parker

      editor

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      George,

      The mining industry in WA is 24/7 for 365. All days are the same. I hear the aircraft carrying the FIFO workers to their workplaces seven days a week. Not quite as busy on Sundays.

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    16. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to bill parker

      Bill, I live in NSW in an area where there are few if any mines apart from several quarries.

      According to the NSW EPA none are licensed to operate during late evening hours/post midnight. And they certainly don't operate on public holidays.

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    17. bill parker

      editor

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      So be it. This is WA and I think most folks in the east would be staggered to see Perth airport at 04.30 every morning and the multitudes of hi view vests and steel caps boots. I was at a gold mine about 18 months ago - two flights in and out daily, 12 hour shifts.

      If you look at NASA's pictures of the earth at night, the most light comes from not the cities but the Pilbara mines.

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    18. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      I've lived here for 13 years and it doesn't feel much like China to me...

      I am interested in one aspect of your story George - you mentioned that your property is aldecite and dacite - I am familiar with the second, but the first I have no heard of - I assume it is also of igneous origin?

      Regardless, is it possible for infrasound to be transmitted via the rock strata (as opposed to through the air)?

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  15. bill parker

    editor

    Excellent stuff once again Simon. I keenly await the descent into name calling and mud sling that this subject creates.

    However, it would also be useful to carry out investigations into the motivations of the members of the anti-wind lobby. Few people work so hard to be destructive so there must be another reason. Or money.

    There are other things we can do with brown coal than burn it.

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  16. Gordon Smith

    Private citizen

    An expected and unsurprising result that could probably be replicated if various other syndromes were studied.
    My only concern is that the tone of this article suggests a degree of advocacy research. Research is best done as an impartial neutral observer and I suspect that Simon was quite invested in the conclusion confirming his suspicions.
    Whilst not suggesting this research is anything but sound having researchers invested in an outcome so they can advocate is an unhealthy trend in science. Remember debondex (I might have the spelling wrong) and autism and immunization (can't remember the name of the researcher)
    Confirmation bias can be unconscious ( as well as deliberate) and advocacy research is vulnerable to it.

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    1. Simon Chapman

      Professor of Public Health at University of Sydney

      In reply to Gordon Smith

      Gordon, please show me any data that are incorrect in the paper, or any inferences drawn from that data that are unreasonable, instead of your snide innuendo. And "tone" problems too please. All science investigates hypotheses. Many people had told me about the variable pattern of complaints across Australia and across time, but no one had ever tried to capture the whole picture. I was unsurprised by the results too. But good research is not just research that shows unexpected results. The idea that anyone who had ever declared their views on an issue should not research that issue is pretty silly. Should I stop all my tobacco research because I have done it for 35 years and like 1000s of others, reached certain conclusions a long time ago?

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    2. Gordon Smith

      Private citizen

      In reply to Simon Chapman

      Simon - my apologies if you felt any snide innuendo - it was not my intention nor did I ever suggest that your research was anything but sound. If that was infered or people took that as my point then I am sorry.
      The 'tone or glee' in your declaration of the results led me to believe that you had invested in an outcome and my comments I think are very clear that as a practice this is unhealthy. Whilst in no way suggesting you have allowed your opinions to infect your research I think my statements on the risks particularly in more subjective areas is valid.
      I believe that the risks in such research is a valid discussion.

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  17. Ron Chinchen

    Retired (ex Probation and Parole Officer)

    Read somewhere recently, I think it was New Scientist, that the cost of wind power including construction, maintenance etc, is now cheaper than non reusable substances even without carbon taxes etc. Apparently the only issue is getting enough of the things built.

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  18. George Papadopoulos

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Could the “great” professor of public health, distinguished for mockerology (and sociology) reconcile the following points that I raise about his new bit of “research”
    1) From p4-p5 he is describing a process of increasing awareness of health complaints and the beginning of negative publicity. Yet fails to relate this to the general consistency of complaints: if not then why not?
    2) He demonstrates a gross lack of scientific knowledge with regards to wind turbine sizes, installation and noise complaints…

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  19. bill parker

    editor

    All this stuff about wind shear and there being not much of it in Australia. I presume that's the part that excludes the west coast. The trees on the coast grow sideways in Geraldton and many other locations up and down that part of Western Australia. There's PLENTY of wind.

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to bill parker

      Bill,

      Above I wrote: "One of the few studies that has been done on offshore/coastal sites was done by a Japanes economist/engineer (I'll track him down if you have any serious interest) who strongly endorsed the idea - particularly for WA, the West Coast of Tasmania and parts of the SA coast - that is, in the roaring 40s... where the wind is."

      Trees are very useful for identifying areas with reliable and consistent wind. So yes, the WA coast makes a bit of sense sense. Unless of course, as sensible science anticipates, the Roaring Forties are moving south. But yes WA makes much more sense than a hill near Orange or Scone.

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    2. bill parker

      editor

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Sorry Peter,

      I missed that. But WA of course is not in the NEM and no one is seriously considering a cable to cross the Nullarbor.

      That said, our biggest is nowhere near the coast at Colgar in the Wheatbelt at 206MW. Enough to power a small city.

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    3. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to bill parker

      Yep ... imagine what you could power if there were are few flattened trees around.

      I know it's only early days but I'm having trouble tracking down any actual performance data for Collgar. There's a useful site for NEM connected plants [ http://windfarmperformance.info/ ]... Is there anything similar for SWIS connected plants in WA.

      If you look at the site above you'll see how volatile the output is hour to hour, day to day, month to month, season to season...

      I'd reckon the plant located on your SW coast would have much flatter more relkiable output... but some actual data would be nice.

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    4. Craig Minns

      Self-employed

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I'd say you're wrong Peter. I did a lot of work in Albany whilst in WA, including at the airport and at the main fishing port. The wind comes in heavy squalls, it doesn't blow at a constant speed.

      The problem with that is that it is either under- or over-powering the turbine a lot of the time, leading to both reduced output and a lot of wear on the feathering mechanism.

      Wind generators work best in a constant, predictable wind, even if that is of a lower average velocity, than they do in gusty squalls and they cost less to maintain.

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    5. bill parker

      editor

      In reply to Craig Minns

      Craig,

      True that the regimes are different from the south to the west, but having worked at Hutt Lagoon (west of Northampton) I can say the wind blows around the clock with little respite.

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    6. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Craig Minns

      Can't argue against that sort of sciencey anecdote Craig.

      The horizontal axis turbines have a very low window for optimum production ... and definitely not gusts ...has to be "just right" ...one of the many reasons I'm not a great enthusiast. Vertical axis turbines operate efficiently over a much wider range - one the reasons I like them.

      Pity we can't do this right and economically. I suspect the only way to do it is through a co-ordinated investment strategy which is really onlly possible via a state owned or directed enterpise.In the same way the existing coal generation network was established. But that won't be happening - we're far too enthusiastic about markets knowing what's best... as if.

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    7. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to bill parker

      Yep I had a look at that Bill - 2011 from memory. The performance site above gives real time output numbers ... essentially live. Can be read from day one.

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    8. Craig Minns

      Self-employed

      In reply to bill parker

      I agree that it blows a lot, Bill, but it's by no means constant. One of the features of the weather in the southwest is the frequent small fronts and squall lines as well as the southwesterly afternoon wind that is often very strong. It's called the Fremantle doctor in Perth. It seems to me that designing for the wide range of wind speeds and the variability would be fraught with difficulty.

      As part of my work I ran a small wind generator (400W peak) here in Brisbane for a while. It produced virtually nothing at wind speeds of less than about 7m/s and shut down when the wind exceeded 20 m/s, meaning that it was almost worthless in this environment.

      I don't want to extrapolate to more sophisticated gear, but it did teach me that constant velocity is important and that too much is sometimes worse than too little.

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    9. Craig Minns

      Self-employed

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I prefer the term "observation" to your rather snide dismissal Peter.

      How many years have you spent in WA did you say?

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    10. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Craig Minns

      None at all Craig hence the dismal lack of sciencey anecdotes. Observations have a rather more precise meaning in my neck of the woods.

      But I do know enough about Albany to point out it is on the South Coast and is subject to a very different weather regime and wind direction than the Western coastline Bill is talking about.

      But actually none of that is to disagree with your basic premise that horizontal axis turbines have a very narrow optimal windspeed. The NSW coastal Nor-easters are quite suitable but not inland.

      Our problem in Australia is variability. And I'd suspect that Albany is about as variable as it gets... but it gets a lot of wind. And a lot of the time, far too much.

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    11. Craig Minns

      Self-employed

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Qualitative observations are not necessarily precise, Peter, but I apologise for being over-sensitive.

      It can be hard to avoid our preconceptions taking control of our perceptions, sadly.

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  20. Mark Pollock

    Analyst

    I notice that most of the data used in the study was supplied by the wind farm companies. If someone were to publish a study suggesting that smoking fags was harmless, based on data supplied by British American Tobacco, then certain people might question said study.

    Also, the data table at the end of they study conflated complaints on health matters and noise matters. This is not at all clear from the article which purports to demonstrate the utter safety of wind farms and how questions of their safety are spurred by activist groups.

    The article seeks to denigrate and belittle people who, for all we know have legitimate concerns about these matters. Is it really neccessary to describe someone as a "deregistered Doctor"? Is that like a defrocked priest? Some manners in the discussion would help.

    This is a very shabby contribution to the discussion.

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    1. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Not that simple, Mark Pollock.

      The authors state that complaints information obtained from the wind farm companies was "corroborated with complaints in submissions to 3 government public enquiries and news media records."

      What methodology would you suggest instead, Mr Pollock?

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    2. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      And Sue I am left wondering why "“Companies were explicitly asked to not send details of any private complaints which could identify those complaining, unless these complaints had been made public by the complainants.” In small rural communities this is almost impossible!"

      Since when do investigators allow the alleged culprit to self assess what evidence will and won't be considered? I would think that any investigator would want to see raw data that isn't digested by floppy criteria.

      Very selective thinking isn't it?

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    3. Simon Chapman

      Professor of Public Health at University of Sydney

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Mark -- not sure if you read our study, but we explain at length that we "triangulated" the data on complaints from three sources: that supplied by the companies; by looking through >1500 submissions to 3 gvt investigations for anyone who was complaining about being affected health wise or just by noise; and news media reports. We say "Where the numbers of complainants determined from this corroborative public source searching exceeded the numbers provided to us by the wind companies, we chose the…

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    4. Simon Chapman

      Professor of Public Health at University of Sydney

      In reply to George Papadopoulos

      George, with the exception of a small number of individuals who requested their names be supressed from their public submissions to parliament, most granted that permission and so the information about who they are is very public. You can look it up yourself by opening up all the submissions, or wading through 1000s of press clips and radio transcripts where complainants are named. As I responded to Mark, we checked these records (ie the total numbers obtained from these two searches against the NUMBERS of complainants - not names -- supplied to us by the companies, and then selected the larger numbers.

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    5. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Simon Chapman

      Simon,

      I reckon we're looking a a range of psychologically driven behaviours and symptoms... a suite of them. I wouldn't clump them all together.

      From some we're seeing deep paranoia, fear, anger and near psychotic power of "perception" where they claim they can "hear" infrasound at 50 kms or more, are the victims of conspiracies and the like. If it wasn't windfarms, it would be something else. It probably is something else... they are surrounded by threats and plots. They are obsessive…

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    6. Simon Chapman

      Professor of Public Health at University of Sydney

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Agree with all of that Peter, but the ratio of complainants to surrounding residents is vanishingly small in Australia.When do you get to a point where the costs of trying to placate aesthetic preference or financial envy in a small number is just not worth it. I'll always remember attending a meeting once when a health complainer spoke and poured out his tale of woe since the turbines started near him. A guy from a wind company I talked to over lunch told me that the same guy and approached the company very keen to have turbines on his land. But his land was assessed as topographically unsuitable. He then morphed into a protestor. The company still has his correspondence apparently. Not saying this is a common trajectory, but I'm told it's by no means rare. Community ownership as in parts of Europe would be the way to go, but that "socialism"!!!

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    7. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Simon Chapman

      Even worse Simon - communalism! And we all know that leads to dancing with the devil himself.

      May be vanishing small - I really hope so (that would suggests we're doing it better - but as the political shut- down in Victoria shows, even vanishingly small noises can be deafening in a marginal electorate... worse than infrasound itself... audible at hundreds of kilometers!

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    8. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Simon Chapman

      Simon, do you think that all the medical experts/medical directors in the TGA and pharmaceutical companies are also licensed to practice?

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    9. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Simon Chapman

      Yes, my dear professor. I see that you avoid answering any of my points, particularly your coy tendency to request raw data from wind developers. Maybe your naive innocence might have been shattered by any incovenient revelations.

      Strangely you have a very different attitude when bullying Sarah Laurie to publish her data on individuals affected by wind turbine developments.

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    10. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Simon Chapman

      "but the ratio of complainants to surrounding residents is vanishingly small in Australia"

      So are these the martyrs that get fed to the blodd thirsty wind gods?

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  21. John Harland

    bicycle technician

    The reason some communities have fewer problems is that local people's concerns are treated with respect, not sneered at as "unscientific" or "imagination".

    It may be, too, that what you imagine as the work of scare-mongerers might be local people looking up scaremongering websites when their concerns are derided.

    There is no generic "infrasound" any more than there is any generic audible sound. Some are irritating, some soothing. People differ considerably in their hearing at very low frequencies and the proportion who hear the sounds complained about may be a small proportion of the population and may be missed in a small random sample.

    If people are treated without proper respect, they will attribute a lot more problems to the whatever they feel you are trying to impose on them without sufficient consultation. Simply rubbishing their concerns further does not address the root problem.

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    1. Simon Chapman

      Professor of Public Health at University of Sydney

      In reply to John Harland

      John, in South Korea, all fans are required to have timers to stop them running all night because of the prevalence of a cultural belief in "fan death". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_death It is of course, total and absolute nonsense, as the (literally) billions of people around the world who run fans all night in summer appreciate. In the late 1990s, there was an outbreak of mass hysteria about mobile telephone towers causing cancer. With near enough to everyone owning a mobile phone now, and…

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  22. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Well, you'd better be right Simon Chapman because there were plenty of medical doctors who sneered at complaints about what eventually became known as repetitive strain injury (RSI) and who disparaged the sufferers as malingerers and 'ethnic' bludgers on the system; prior to RSI being acknowledged it was called 'Kangaoroo Paw' and 'Golden Paw' in reference to the high number of migrant workers in low payed, disempowered occupations who showed the symptoms.

    Don't suppose that there's any chance that you'll ever be living under a wind turbine, is there, in the same way that most insurance doctors won't ever find themselves doing repetitive process work? Funny how social position effects bio-medical science, isn't it?

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    1. Craig Minns

      Self-employed

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      The thing is that I'm a bit bemused by the mechanism by which this effect is supposed to be created.

      Is it the turbines, which are quite high-speed, or is it the blades, or is it something else entirely?

      As in George's case, are there other potential noise sources which could be to blame?

      I know from my own experience that often we don't notice something until we look and we often don't look until something else changes. A simple example is an experience I had with my portable sawmill. It…

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    2. George Papadopoulos

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Craig Minns

      Craig, at first I was at total loss why the peculiar noise aspects on my farm were present anywhere between 10km to 40km from the wind turbines (I didn't go out further at that stage)

      More recently, studying the effects of ripples on water showed that an initial large and low frequency wave becomes a mess of higher frequency ripples after the initial wave makes its first return.

      There are about 200 wind turbines scattered over a distance of about 50-60km. The interaction of 1hertz soundwaves at distance is predictably different to the presence of fewer more powerful waveforms closer to the wind turbines.

      Likewise whilst I consider wind turbines to be the greatest source of ILFN in the region, aeroplanes under some weather conditions can make the situation even worse as they entering into the horizon.

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