AGL’s Macarthur victims demand action from their Council

The public health disaster that is AGL’s Macarthur wind farm has reached boiling point with 60 of its long-suffering locals calling their local Councilors to account at a heated meeting last Friday – with STT Champion, Annie Gardner leading the charge:


Here’s one take on proceedings by regional rag, The Standard.

Bad vibrations in the air as Macarthur residents fire up over wind farm
The Standard
Sean McComish
28 September 2013

THERE were tears, shouts of anger and allegations that wind turbines were affecting everything from dogs to property prices.

The chairs were all taken as close to 60 Macarthur district residents crowded into a local woolshed on Thursday night to voice anger against the giant wind farm they say is causing insomnia and a raft of other health problems.

Three Moyne Shire councillors sat solemnly behind a table listening to the complaints, which ranged from the heartfelt to the bizarre.

Residents are desperately trying to convince council and others that wind turbine sickness isn’t a psychological oddity as suggested by academics.

Neither the health community or the government say there is any evidence supporting their claims.

But at least a dozen people described waking up in the early hours suffering from vibrations and dizziness, which they claim is being caused by the giant AGL-operated wind energy plant near Macarthur. It is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere and has been fully operational since January this year.

Farmer Ron Jelbart said he regularly had to leave his home to sleep in Hamilton. “Something is there that we cannot understand, that we cannot live with,” he said.

Resident Maria Linke made an emotional plea to councillors to take up their cause. “I’ve got a family of six — we can hear the turbines over the television at normal volume,” she said. “Don’t just fob us off to the state and federal government.”

The residents had two main demands — fund an acoustics study focusing solely on Macarthur’s three-megawatt turbines and complete a health report detailing the problems.

Jan Heathrington, the owner of a fine glass studio and property where the meeting was held, said she had spent thousands of dollars trying to prove infrasound — sub-audible noise — had increased, leading to headaches and nausea.

“I paid $10,000 for testing in my own home,” she said. “I’m getting terribly impacted. ‘‘I wake up four or five times each night. ‘‘I’ll wake up with vibrations in my body and my eyes are wobbly. “If you’re making good money out of the rates from the wind farm, can that money be used for independent testing?”

Mayor Jim Doukas, who managed to keep the room onside, promised that council officers would meet with residents and compile complaints into a report to take to council. But there was little support for an acoustics study.

Cr James Purcell said Moyne council risked duplicating a study planned by the federal Coalition into the health effects. “I won’t spend thousands of dollars in council money — your rates — on something they’re going to do,” he said.

A representative for Wannon MP Dan Tehan said a study was among the first things Mr Tehan had raised in Canberra since the election.

Cr Doukas went as far to say that he didn’t personally like AGL. The council is still trying to recover millions for damaged roads from the company. “We’ve still got problems with AGL,” Cr Doukas said. ‘‘They’re not very nice people to deal with.’’

Concerns were also raised over three wind farms planned for Penshurst, Willatook and Hawkesdale. The number of turbines operating in the region could surpass 600 if all three go ahead.
The Standard

STT says: “hats off, Macarthur”.  Never back down – you will prevail.

STT has to take issue with the patently biased reporting from Sean McComish – his article was written like he was writing a press release for AGL or the Clean Energy Council.

Sean talks about the Moyne Shire Council: “listening to the complaints, which ranged from the heartfelt to the bizarre”.

STT is hard pressed to find any complaint recorded in his article that amounts to “bizarre”.

The impact on human physiology from low-frequency noise and infra-sound has been known to the scientific community for over 50 years and was used by the Allies in WW1 to locate artillery.  In relation to wind turbines, the impact has been known since the early 1980s and hidden by the wind industry ever since – see our posts, here, here and here.

In our last post – we reported on a study from the US showing a direct link between turbine generated low frequency noise and infra-sound and the nausea or vertigo like symptoms exhibited by a significant proportion of wind farm neighbours.

The medicos and acousticians behind that piece of work concluded that the chance that the nausea or vertigo like symptoms being reported by wind farm neighbours was NOT caused by turbine generated infra-sound or low frequency noise was less than 2 in 1,000,000.

These are exactly the sorts of symptoms reported by AGL’s numerous victims at Macarthur, people like Jan Hetherington.

STT’s met Jan Hetherington and says that the implicit suggestion in Sean’s article that her complaint is “bizarre” is not only wrong, but signals a dangerous lack of compassion and human decency.  We covered that kind of monstrous thinking in this post.

Sean refers to the fact that local dogs are being affected by turbine noise.  Is that what he means when he talks about the “bizarre”?

Young Rex’s hearing is sharper than most.

Last time STT worked with sheepdogs it was pretty clear that they can hear a pin drop at 500 paces.

If human ears are affected by low frequency noise, infra-sound and the enormous air pressure fluctuations generated by 140 giant Vestas V112s each with 3 x 56m blades with their outer tips travelling at over 350km/h – then it’s a pretty fair bet that young Rex’s ears are copping a belting too.

AGL operates another non-compliant wind farm called Oaklands Hill, near Glenthompson in Victoria – where the neighbours began complaining about excessive turbine noise the moment it kicked into operation in August 2011.  Complaints included the impact of turbine noise on hard working sheepdogs.

So Sean, if sheepdogs aren’t affected by turbine noise why did AGL spend $20,000 on a deluxe, soundproof dog kennel for one local farming family – whose prized paddock dog goes ballistic every time AGL’s Suzlon s88s kick into action at Oaklands Hill?  AGL doesn’t give money away without a reason.

Another line by Sean discloses clear evidence of his personal bias when he says: “Residents are desperately trying to convince council and others that wind turbine sickness isn’t a psychological oddity as suggested by academics.”

The first point we take issue with is Sean’s assertion that the impact from low frequency noise and infra-sound is a “psychological oddity as suggested by academics”.

As we’ve pointed out there’s nothing “odd” about the impact of incessant low-frequency noise on human health.  Neil Kelley was all over the relationship between turbine generated low frequency noise and sleep disturbance over 30 years ago.

Sean, if night-time noise isn’t a health problem, then why is it that there are strict rules about the permitted times for operating chainsaws and lawn mowers – rules that keep roosters out of towns and cities – and rules that mean the plug gets pulled on Rock Bands and Music Venues at midnight in residential areas?

Those quite reasonable rules are all about PUBLIC HEALTH, aren’t they?  Industrial Noise – is always and everywhere a public health issue.

Those long-standing rules are simply aimed at allowing people to enjoy a decent night’s sleep.  So why should the standards set for city and town dwellers be any different for the hard-working people at Macarthur?

We’re not sure who Sean is referring to when he talks about “academics”?

Perhaps he’s talking about pseudo-scientists and tobacco advertising gurus that act as wind weasel advocates – who’ve never once troubled themselves to visit Macarthur (or any other wind farm for that matter) – and who have never carried out any peer-reviewed, field-based studies.

Of course, getting to bottom of a public health problem is pretty hard when you haven’t even got the guts to talk to the people who are suffering.  Not that the “academics” we think Sean is referring to have any relevant qualifications for that kind of research, in any event.  Skills in monitoring and manipulating the media don’t count.

Sean then goes on with the very wild assertion that: “Neither the health community or (sic) the government say there is any evidence supporting their claims.”  The first observation we make is that you heard them speaking Sean, what do YOU think?

Why not try turning an independent, rational mind to the task?  When trying to unravel life’s puzzles, logic often works wonders.

Do you really think the Federal Coalition would bother to introduce legislation to force the wind industry to fund truly independent noise, sleep and health research into the known and obvious impacts of incessant turbine generated low frequency noise and infra-sound, if there wasn’t good reason to do so?

Do you really think that the 60 people from Macarthur who met the Moyne Shire Councilors – people solidly engaged in productive, mostly agricultural, pursuits – who aren’t in the habit of complaining to public authorities about the myriad adversities thrown up by life or nature – would spend their days and nights writing emails complaining to AGL about constant turbine noise related sleep deprivation; and spend countless hours each day writing to and/or personally lobbying politicians, councilors, journalists and others to get them to do something about their present plight if there wasn’t something in it?

Apply a bit of common sense Sean – and you’ll probably find the answers.

As to your claims about the state of scientific research, here’s the STT challenge, Sean – publish in your paper a peer-reviewed scientific study, based on multi-disciplinary field research, which proves – in a POSITIVE sense – that there are NO adverse health impacts caused by giant industrial wind turbines.

When we say adverse health impacts, we include noise related sleep deprivation, which the World Health Organisation has recognised as an adverse noise related health effect – in and of itself – since 1948.

And we’re not talking about the twaddle dished up by the NHMRC in its “Rapid Review” – which pointed out nothing more than the fact that there has been no thorough investigation into the relationship between turbine generated infra-sound and low frequency turbine noise and the adverse health impacts reported by hundreds of Australians and thousands internationally.

Mind you – the corrupt little bunch responsible for that report completely overlooked the brilliant and highly relevant work done over 30 years ago by Neil Kelley & Co.  It wasn’t that hard to find – STT found it – it’s amazing what you’ll find when you open your eyes.

Nor are we talking about the pile of dross put together by the wind industry and dished up by your Victorian Health Department – an anonymously authored document which has been thoroughly slammed by the world’s top acoustic experts, including one of the most respected acoustic experts in Australia – Professor Colin Hansen.  It was also berated by crack neuro-physiologist, Professor Alec Salt.

Journalists are supposed to get to the truth or die trying.

One major reason for the locals’ “desperation” to have authorities act on their clearly justified complaints is that journalists, like Sean, continually fail to do their job – you know, that old chestnut about journos fearlessly getting to the truth.

Remember those journos with brains and courage who speared American Presidents; got to the truth behind thalidomide and asbestos; reported on wars and genocidal dictatorships, while under deadly fire; and otherwise did their utmost to inform the public of the corruption, lies and deceit of the powerful – and the contempt with which the mighty often treat the meek?

Sean, this growing public health disaster is not about who “believes” or doesn’t “believe” in climate change – or how “deniers” are said to stand in the way of a so-called “green” energy future.  And it’s not about NIMBY’s being put up to complain by the fossil fuel industry.

STT says giant industrial wind turbines shouldn’t be in ANYONE’S BACK YARD – and it appears that when that question is squarely put to reasonable people the vast majority feel the same way.

Wake-up, Sean.  Industrial wind turbines have absolutely nothing to do with mitigating climate change.

The stated objective of supporting wind power through the RET and REC is to reduce CO2 emissions.  But because they can only ever produce power at crazy, random intervals wind farms will never be a substitute for base-load power generation sources.

As Paul Miskelly pointed out in his peer-reviewed paper – in this post – as wind power generation capacity increases there will be an increase in CO2 emissions – simply because every MW of wind power capacity has to be backed up by a MW of base-load generation capacity, which in practice means highly inefficient Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs).  Paul ripped into the new Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane and the wind weasel’s pet acoustic consultants on the same score here and here.

In Australia, hundreds of OCGTs are kicked into gear hundreds of times each year to back up missing wind-watts and they each emit more CO2 per unit of electricity generated than any other power source, save diesel generators – which are used for precisely the same purpose.  Using banks of diesel generators as part of a “clean energy” policy – now that’s “bizarre“.

Sean, next time you’re anywhere near Macarthur, check out AGL’s peaking power plant which uses OCGTs that look a lot like these:

Peaking power at Hallett
Energy Australia’s peaking power plant near Hallett, SA.
Strategically located right next to AGL’s Hallett 1 wind farm.

Open your eyes lad – this has got nothing to do with “saving the planet” and everything to do with “green tokenism” parading as a front for monstrous outfits like AGL to rort and game the power market.

Open your ears – and listen carefully to the suffering described by the dozens of people adversely affected at Macarthur.  It’s serious and it’s real.

And for god sake’s open your mind.  Try applying critical, logical and reasoned analysis to what you see and hear.  These people are not making it up and there is no logical reason for them to do so.

Stop being an apologist for the wind industry – grow up – and do your job – starting with a proper investigation of the tragedy unfolding in your very own backyard.  STT will be only too pleased to give your work as an investigative journalist a wider audience.


20 thoughts on “AGL’s Macarthur victims demand action from their Council

  1. I was present at the meeting. The councillors were on the back foot with their excuses and condescending attitude. They were advised by their legal advisors that they had to meet with impacted residents. They should at least do something about having the turbines turned off overnight , whilst a full independent assesmemt is made.

  2. Thank you for the insightful critique STT, spot on. Lazy journalists, like naive Greens, require regular confrontation and education with the facts-well done.

    And I look forward to media reports as the first councils and councillors are held accountable and sued for neglecting to protect the health of the citizens being adversely affected by the acoustic pollution associated with wind turbines being too close.

    Buck passing won’t wash anymore. Cr Purcell and his peers around Australia should take note. Time to revisit their statutory public health obligations and responsibilities, if they have any concern for their constituents. And get a good lawyer, if they have any concern for themselves.

  3. With respect to the council saying they will have council officers meet with residents and compile complaints then report to Council, will these council officers be the same ones who worked with AGL on its proposal, or will they be completely independent of that process?

    Unless they commit to working on behalf of the complainants to the Government to have this and other such projects shut down, at least at night, then it’s a waste of time.

    They appear to be doing nothing more than everyone else has done for those suffering – say they are listening but are doing nothing.
    Listening is one thing doing is another.

    Also, why have councillors themselves not listened and reported back? With respect to the comment about doing the acoustical research themselves, possibly being a duplication of the Governments intention, surely duplication is a norm in scientific research? Doesn’t duplication also mean replication – a system that scientific researchers use to verify results?

    Well done STT, your breakdown of the role of investigative journalism is spot on. All journalists don’t have to be top level investigative journo’s, a simple truthful and factual account without bias would be great to read.

    It’s not up to them to make judgement, and if they want to report an opposing view then they should ensure they report that view factually and again without bias.

    In this case he should have simply and factually reported on the meeting, unless he was going to do an unbiased investigative article.
    If he was, then he needed to read widely and do an unbiased account of all sides, providing referenced examples from all sides of the argument.

    However, his intention appeared to be simply reporting on the meeting, therefore any mention of other matters was not necessary.
    So it makes it possible to conclude there were forces at work for him to include denigration of those giving accounts at the meeting, leaving people to speculate who the force was and why and what the intention was.

  4. Great summary by STT.

    The situation at Macarthur is the same as Waubra and Hepburn – false reporting by the local newspaper which have been influenced by the local wind developers.

    The Ballarat Courier printed false information put forward by the developer and the local councillor treated it as true. The editor of the Courier has refused to publish my responses.

    My complaint was that the wind farm had not complied to permit conditions – and this was the reason I believed that me and other members of my family have become ill.

    The planning department still refuses to ensure that correct compliance procedures are adhered to with regards to the conditions of the permit. Until this is done, any testing performed has no use in resolving compliance.

    The planning department has evidence that the wind farm does not comply by prediction (June 2012) and from data presented in private acoustic reports and technical information of sound from one of the developer’s turbines – let alone from the build up of sound pressure from many turbines.

    The lack of intestinal fortitude by those in charge of ensuring compliance is the cause and reason that people like us at Waubra, Macarthur and Hepburn have suffered and continue to suffer.

    There are a lot of unanswered questions that the planning minister refuses to answer. May be it is time we sat on the steps of Parliament house until we have our questions answered with factual evidence instead of fictional crap.

    Noel Dean.

    1. I agree Noel Dean, I think in the end we have to sit on the steps of Parliament House – and the steps of the wind farm operators and Hosts.

    2. Questions remain unanswered, I’m fed up with being fobbed off by all kinds of tactics, fed up with lack of sleep, headaches and heart troubles. I’ll sit on the steps….it is certain to be quieter than here!!

      I also witnessed this very moving meeting. Bizarre and disturbing is five years informing pacific hydro and various government bodies of adverse conditions experienced at Cape Bridgewater, Senate inquiries, quiet protests in Canberra, yet still no answers and no resolution.

      Wind farms are still being erected, including Stage 4 of the Portland project, sited 350m from a home and well within 5km. setback of a regional centre. The ‘wind rush’ continues.

      Evidence, scientific reports and communities confirm the problems of infrasound and broadband sound at wind farms, what exactly do we have to do to be taken heed of? I say well done, to those voicing their concerns and requesting action at Macarthur.

      Melissa Ware

  5. Well, AGL are not called Australias Greatest Liar for nothing. They are terrible to deal with – they say they will sort out some problem for you, but they have no intention to doing so.

  6. Great work again by STT. Can you please publish the facts relating to AGL paying for a $20,000 sound proof dog kennel?

      1. I have often wondered at the efficacy of the “sound proofed” dog house as our home is double leaf masonry with insulated ceiling and slab floor and the low frequency “sounds” seem significantly stronger inside than outside or in the adjacent colourbond sheds. I can’t help thinking that the AGL dog house is a total waste of money.

        Perhaps AGL should try living in the dog house where they belong.

      2. Developers always put gag clauses in place when they provide any “support” for locals. It happens in every country in the world! The result is that all the information is then only anecdotal – which is highly convenient for Councils, Governments and wind weasels.

  7. I thought earlier in Sean’s reportings and from a personal interview with him that he actually understood our plight.

    This last edition referred to above left me feeling that he had been “got at” by the wind industry.

    I strongly echo STT’s sentiments and call for him to look beyond the wind, green and government’s spin.

    We all know that the wind industry will lie through its teeth to protect its lucrative subsidies and the government will lie through its teeth to avoid having to cough up with the hard cash for proper testing and also to avoid being the ones with egg on their face because they have to admit that they got it so very wrong!

  8. Sean McCormish’s report states: “Residents are desperately trying to convince council and others that wind turbine sickness isn’t a psychological oddity as suggested by academics”

    I don’t think we should be talking of an “oddity suggested by academics”. I think it would be more accurate to talk of a mostly irrelevant hypothesis supported by a bunch of clowns that sadly includes academics such as the one photographed here:

    It is time a royal commission was called to investigate this most inhumane treatment of Australian citizens.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s