A letter to Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane

STT Champion, David Brooks, is leading the charge at Gullen Range in NSW – a disaster in the making.

Here’s a letter David sent recently to Energy Minister Ian Macfarlane.  STT thinks it deserves nothing less than Macca’s earnest attention and immediate action in response.


Dear Ian Macfarlane

I am extremely concerned at reading a report in The Land newspaper (18.9.13) that you intend to “begin talking to wind farm operators before parliament sits in November to discuss the scope of the [health effects] inquiry and a law to establish real time monitoring.”

I am concerned that the “scope” of the health effects study, or the form of the real-time monitoring should in any way depend on discussions with the wind energy industry.

The wind energy industry will certainly attempt to persuade you to limit the scope of the the health effects study, and to regard such a study as unnecessary. The consistent position of the wind energy industry for years now has been that there are no adverse health effects from wind turbine impacts, and that if wind farm neighbours are getting sick, the sickness must be psychosomatic, and the result of anxiety induced by anti-wind farm activists. This position is on record many times over.

The truth is that people are getting sick because wind farms are located too close to homes. This is due to a failure of planning by the State government planning authorities, as a result of their adopting noise guidelines that are demonstrably inadequate to protect neighbours from adverse health effects. These noise guidelines do not measure low frequency noise or infrasound accurately, do not take amplitude modulation seriously, do not prescribe an accurate estimate/assessment of increased noise due to a stable atmosphere (from temperature inversions), increased noise due to an array of multiple turbines, or increased noise when the wakes of a line of turbines interfere with one another.

The wind energy industry has been dismissing or ignoring these concerns since at least the late 1990s. Why do you imagine that they will behave any differently now?

On the inadequacy of the noise guidelines for wind farm assessment in Australia I urge you to read the document Are Wind Farms Too Close to Communities? by Steven Cooper, principal of the noise consultancy The Acoustic Group Pty Ltd.  I have attached this document.

Research for NASA and the US Department of Energy in the 1980s and 1990s showed conclusively that adverse health effects could be expected from the dynamically modulated low frequency noise and infrasound emissions from wind turbines. The research plainly shows that this conclusion applies just as much to modern turbines with their rotor upwind of the tower as to the older type of turbine where the rotor is downwind of the tower. This research was ignored or forgotten when the noise guideline ETSU-R-97 was compiled at the end of the 1990s. ETSU-R-97 has influenced more recent noise guidelines, including those used in Australia. On this subject, please read the article by the North American noise engineer Richard James, which I attach.

More recently, the wind energy industry is claiming that any infrasound emissions from wind turbines are of no account because they are no different in level from those of urban and rural areas where there are no turbines. Their claim is based on the study made by the South Australian Environment Protection Authority into wind turbine infrasound, published in January this year. This study ignores the difference between non-modulated natural infrasound (e.g. from wind) and the modulated infrasound from turbines. The study is also deficient methodologically, according to the NSW noise consultant Steven Cooper (see above). I attach Mr Cooper’s critique of the SA EPA study.

State governments in Australia, and the wind energy industry are taking cover behind the NHMRC’s Rapid Review (2010), which claims that there is no scientific evidence for adverse health effects from wind turbines. This grossly deficient document has been demolished by the acoustic and health professionals of the Society for Wind Vigilance. The Society’s critique is available on its website (www.windvigilance.com). Please read this critique before you put any faith in the NHMRC’s Rapid Review.

The wind energy industry will try to persuade you that inaudible infrasound is harmless, and does not need to be considered. This assumption has been shown to be untenable by Professor Alec Salt of the Cochlear Fluids Research Laboratory, in the School of Medicine, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri. Professor Salt has published on the subject of wind turbine infrasound and adverse health effects four times since 2010. His peer-reviewed research is obtainable via his website (http://oto2.wustl.edu/cochlea/wind.html).

When the health study is done, it must include field studies of noise impacts from actual wind turbines. In other words, the estimation of noise impacts must not be made only through modelling.

The investigators must ensure that the wind farm operators are not feathering the turbine blades so as to reduce the noise emissions during the time of the study.

There must be full spectral monitoring across the whole frequency range, both indoors and outdoors.

The raw data in unweighted dB(Lin) [linear] must be presented, as well as the weighted measurements in dB(A), dB(C), and dB(G).

Lmax must be worked out, as well as Leq and L90. This is the only way the peak noise levels actually endured by neighbours can be known.

Amplitude modulation both on a macro-scale (in seconds), and on a micro-scale (in milliseconds) must be registered. This is the only way to know the real magnitude of the modulation.

The agreement of the wind farm operators must be obtained for turning the turbines on and off, so that background noise in the absence of turbine operation can be known accurately. This must occur during both the day and night, and especially at times of temperature inversion.

On all these topics, please consult Steven Cooper and Richard James. You should also consult Dr Bob Thorne, of Noise Measurement Services Pty Ltd, and Professor Colin Hansen of the School of Mechanical Engineering in the University of Adelaide. If you only consult noise consultants who regularly work for the wind energy industry, you will get only a very partial and inadequate view of the real nature of wind turbine sound emissions.

The real-time noise monitoring must be 24 hrs per day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Wind turbine noise is very variable, both in the short term (minutes), and in the long term (days, weeks, months).

The data must be presented in dB(Lin) as well as in the weighted forms.

The power output of the turbines must be recorded so that it can be correlated with the noise data.

Wind speed and direction must be recorded.

The sad truth is that the wind energy industry, with the co-operation of the State planning authorities, has been hiding the real nature of wind turbine noise by not measuring low frequency noise and infrasound, by dismissing amplitude modulation, and by using averages (Leq) and selective (L90) criteria. The result has been that the legitimate noise complaints of neighbours have been dismissed, and neighbours have been treated with contempt and vilification.

You have an opportunity to produce accurate studies of the real nature of wind turbine sound emissions and impacts. Neighbours of existing wind farms, and people soon to be the neighbours of wind farms being built look to you for relief. Don’t let us down.

Yours sincerely

David Brooks
Parkesbourne/Mummel Landscape Guardians

Ian Macfarlane

Well, Ian, don’t just sit there – DO something.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. Sadly I fear David’s misgivings concerning Ian Macfarlane are well founded. Far from attempting to redress the contempt shown for rural residents by the previous Labor/Green government, Macfarlane shows little indication that he is any better. The contemptuous disregard this bloke shows residents in his own backyard, the Darling Downs, in fact gives every indication that he believes it’s OK to treat rural Australians like mushrooms (keep them in the dark and feed them bulls***). If you think ICAC investigations should be confined to NSW Labor and the unions, please think again, the stench that surrounds all levels of government in rural Queensland is frightening as it goes about ‘smoothing the way’ for coal seam gas interests. A few examples, here (from 12:00 min), here and here. Why would anyone believe Minister Macfarlane will treat rural Australians threatened by industrial wind developments any better than the way he treats the ‘little people’ in his own state when it comes to the coal seam gas industry?

    • vice chancellor's slush fund says:

      Given that Wind AND Gas is spruiked by the same companies with the same contempt for neighbours (is it only Greens that are willingly blind to this fact?), one suspects a change in Government has made no difference.

      BTW, anyone done FOI on corporate wind and gas political donations lately? Donations to universities also suggest conflicts of interest (University of Adelaide, Sydney)?

      • Melissa Ware says:

        In response to Vice Chancellors slush fund comment. I recently heard on a radio news bulletin that twenty milllion dollars was donated to the Uni of Sydney, the amount caught my attention and to discover more about general donations and political donations was near impossible. Is there such a thing as corporate generosity without an agenda? Someone called it being philanthropical and said it needs to be encouraged in Australia. I wonder about expensive dinners as ‘fund raisers’ and why there isn’t more disclosure. It seems underhanded that companies declare to shareholders and the public, they don’t make political donations but pay enormous and anonymous sums of money for attendence at events. FOI could be required to unearth more and laws changed to uncover any grey areas about the source of donations. I appreciate the wonderful, kind and ethical people donating to others whom look for no return on the gift but some ‘gifts’ just seem questionable to me.

  2. Melissa Ware says:

    If David Brooks excellent letter to the Energy Minister were a petition…I’d sign it. For too long we have been suffering pounding headaches, sleepless nights and a house that vibrates from industrial noise. For too long we have all been passed from pillar to post without redress of observations whilst living within 2kms or further of a wind generated power plant. For too long we have all known the deceptions of this industry. Scientific evidence supports our local experiences and has for a long time. We continue to request acknowledgement through proper in situ studies, rather than marginalisation and dismissal, and beg for the endless noise torture and torment to stop. A local primary school has a different focus each week and recently it has been the difference between right and wrong and decision making and choosing the right path of action. The noise we experience is wrong and we need decision-makers with some gumption. You don’t touch a fire to cure a burn and for an Energy Minister to seek biased advice on a course of action from the Wind Industry alone, shows me there’s a lack of gumption more readily found in Primary aged students.

  3. Ian, what is written above is the truth.

    These industrial wind turbines with their infrasound, low frequency and audible noise are making people suffer with very severe stress and ill health if they don’t get away from these wind turbines a few days and nights a week. That is disgusting – having to leave your home for rest from these useless fans. Goverments ought be ashamed to allow this to happen to people in their own homes.

    STOP this fraudulent wind industry, IAN.

  4. David Mortimer says:

    Ian Macfarlane will not consider those of us being affected by the turbines. He will not (just like Christine Milne) read any documentation that opposes wind farms. He does not have the interest of the citizens of Australia at heart, only the interests of his wind weasel mates. He is a small man with one hell of a great big ego who has forgotten why he is in parliament.

    If the Abbott axe is to swing in his direction, I will happily hone the blade.

  5. Jackie Rovensky says:

    The only way the new Government can prove that it is serious about getting the budget back into surplus, about cutting back on the waste of taxes, raised from the public, and right the wrongs of Labor and the Greens, is to do the research properly.

    To ensure the research called for in the recommendations emanating from the Senate Committee findings and to engage with those suffering medically and financially as a result of the ‘open house’ approach of State Governments and the Federal Government to this industry at the cost to citizens across a range of areas.

    The only way, is to recognise that the money that’s been unwisely spent on this industry has been wasted.

    The only way the new Government can achieve what they have said they will is to recognise waste when they see it, and to research and accept what is happening throughout the world and the consequences resulting from other countries falling for the lies, hypocrisy and self interest of this industry and its supporters.

    They can only achieve what they have promised if they recognise that the tunnel vision of Labor and the Greens has driven this country down a dangerous path were its citizens are being subjugated by environments that would not be allowed elsewhere in society and take immediate steps to halt it.

    To ensure they do what they have promised they will need to be judicious in how they conduct themselves and how they approach the topic of this industry’s failings, and that is not by consulting them and their ‘lackeys’, but by connecting with those affected along with those who have seen and understand the damage being done, as well as read widely to ensure they have the full unadulterated truth.

    This new Government has the ability to create a better world for those in suffering, and those in economic depression from ever rising power bills.

    Industry, large and small, will also be assisted by the lessening of the ever tighter strangle hold of energy costs on their ability to operate in a manner which allows them to grow and employ more people.

    Only then will this country once again have the opportunity to rise from the ever depending doldrums they’ve been driven into by lack lustre governance and adherence to a defunct ideology.

  6. Reblogged this on Mothers Against Wind Turbines and commented:
    Windpushers are aware of the harm they are causing!

  7. It is becoming painfully obvious that they are aware that physical harm is being done to people who are unfortunate enough to have wind turbines situated too close to their home. All efforts, up to now, have been made to cover up the fact, rather than deal with it directly, and face the consequences. Never trust a windweasel….or the politicians who support them.

  8. So MacFarlane is going to speak to the foxes about how to study chook house designs? How stupid do some politicians really think people are!

    Why couldn’t MacFarlane announce that he is going to speak to the professionals, the Waubra Foundation and DR Sarah Laurie? Why couldn’t MacFarlane announce that he was going to speak to any academic experts in the area? Why couldn’t MacFarlane at least refer the matter back to the NHMRC and its not so transparent processes?

    I suspect he has his nose into wind industry pudding, and perhaps makes the ideal candidate for Abbott’s axe.

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