Top Acoustics/Health Doc – Bob Thorne – Slams the Pro-Wind Industry Bias of the NHMRC & Clean Energy Regulator

bob thorne

Dr Bob Thorne: a ‘rare’ bird – he’s got a PhD that actually matters.


The Australian Senate’s Inquiry into the great wind power fraud has received some cracking submissions; which collectively hammer the lies, treachery and deceit of an industry devoid of any social conscience, moral decency; and that, like an unreformed heroin junkie, slurps up $billions in Federally mandated subsidies, filched from power punters, without any economic or environmental justification, at all.

In this post, we’ve popped up some extracts from one of them, thrown into the ring by top acoustics and health expert, Dr Bob Thorne.

Unlike those that spruik for the wind industry, Bob actually holds a set of relevant qualifications: his PhD is in Health Science (‘Assessing intrusive noise and low amplitude sound’, Massey University, 2007) and that grand award, sits atop a stack of pertinent academic parchments and gongs, including:

New Zealand Diploma in Science (Noise Management, 1985)

Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control (UK Institute of Acoustics 1985; specialist subjects Architectural Acoustics, Law & Administration)

Royal Society for the Promotion of Health Diploma in Health Engineering (1981)

Royal Society of Health Diploma in Air Pollution Control (1978)

STT thinks that someone with that kind of recognised skill set, is much more likely to have something sensible to say about the health impacts of incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound, than journalism students and former tobacco advertising gurus.

So, we’ll throw the floor over to Bob, with some of the key points made in his submission to the Inquiry.

Dr Bob Thorne

Submissions re Clean Air Regulator

(a) That the Clean Energy Regulator be required to:

Appoint officers or consultants who are technically and professionally competent to audit any relevant Commonwealth, State, Territory or local government planning and approval requirements relating to wind farms; and specifically noise management conditions.

Appoint officers or consultants who are technically and professionally competent to audit a power station or consultant report dealing with any relevant Commonwealth, State, Territory or local government planning and approval requirements; and specifically noise management.

(b) Revoke self-certification by an accredited power station

That the permissions for an accredited power station to undertake and report on ongoing compliance with Commonwealth, state, territory and local government planning and approval requirements be revoked.

Background to the above submissions

The Clean Energy Regulator has a statutory obligation to ensure an accredited power station operates in accordance with planning and approval requirements. The failure in this process is that the Regulator can accept self-certification from a wind farm operator that the operation of the wind farm complies with its approvals.

This is an unsatisfactory situation.

Regulation 4 of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001 states:

4 Eligibility for accreditation

(1) For paragraph 14(2)(b) of the Act: …

(c) the power station must be operated in accordance with any relevant Commonwealth, State, Territory or local government planning and approval requirements.

Paragraph 14(2)(b) of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 states:

(2) A power station is eligible for accreditation if: …

(b) the power station satisfies any prescribed requirements.

Therefore the Regulator has a statutory duty to ensure that the planning approvals are adhered to.

An inquiry was sent by myself to the Regulator (via the enquiries portal, 2 March 2015) for information on the processes taken to ensure planning approvals are correct. The website for the Regulator indicates that the organisation is very form conscious and very friendly towards applicants. Therefore the information must be available.

To date this inquiry has not been acknowledged so it must be assumed that they either do not have the information or do have the information but do not want to release it.

Dear Clean Energy Regulator

Inquiry concerning application of planning requirements

Regulation 4 of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001 states:

4 Eligibility for accreditation

(1) For paragraph 14(2)(b) of the Act:…

(c) the power station must be operated in accordance with any relevant Commonwealth, State, Territory or local government planning and approval requirements.

Could you please advise me if there is a requirement to provide continuous (e.g. an annual certificate) confirmation that a power station is meeting its planning approvals?

Or is the planning approval requirement confirmed at the commencement of the use and not checked after that time?

This inquiry relates to wind farm power stations that have a mandatory noise limit compliance condition that is to be maintained over the life of the station.

Any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

The Regulator must know of the concerns of people living near wind farms and therefore must know that the planning approvals must be strictly complied with. Accreditation of the power station and the clean energy payments depend on these approvals.

Important matters have been raised in previous Senate Committee hearings dealing with wind farms and, by association, compliance with planning approvals:

  • People are being affected by noise (including vibration) from the operation of wind farms;
  • The people do not know what is causing their distress, simply that it is happening; and
  • People affected are being ignored by wind farm operators, Councils and/or Planning ministers.
  • In my view the Clean Energy Regulator has comprehensively failed to apply its legislative obligations with respect to its statutory obligation to ensure an accredited power station operates in accordance with planning and approval requirements.

Consequently the Clean Energy Regulator has failed in its duty of care to the affected residents and communities and must be held accountable for that failure.

The balance of my submissions support the background and submissions tendered above.

Submissions re National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

  • That the National Health and Medical Research Council be required to cease wasting taxpayer monies on academic exercises into wind farm health effects.
  • That the National Health and Medical Research Council increase the proposed funding for wind farm health effects research from $500,000 to not less than $1,200,000, with the study to be over a minimum of two years’ and that this study be required to take into account the adverse health effects presented by submitters to previous Senate wind farm noise inquiries, and such new submissions as may arise due to recent studies such as the Pacific Hydro Cape Bridgewater Study.
  • That any research study be open to all research organisations to apply for.
  • That the current members of the NHMRC Wind Farms and Human Health Reference Group be dismissed and not permitted to have any further involvement in wind farm studies or reports.

Background to the above submissions

My submission is to expand on important matters raised in previous Senate Committee hearings dealing with wind farms.

1. The 2011 Senate Inquiry into ‘The Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms’ considered many local residents’ submissions and made two recommendations (a) that the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) review research and (b) the National Acoustics Laboratories (NAL) conduct a study and assessment of noise impacts of wind farms, including impacts of infrasound. The NHMRC has undertaken its part, but the NAL has not. Therefore, we are reliant on resident reporting and commissioned noise impact assessments for an analysis of wind farm noise effects. The recent Pacific Hydro – Steven Cooper Cape Bridgewater Study is an excellent example of this type of study.

2. Guidance as to the potential effects on wellbeing and amenity are derived in part from research studies and in part from resident reporting (anecdotes). “Anecdotes are very valuable ways of honing the questions to be asked” as stated by Professor Anderson of the National Health and Medical Research Council before the Senate Committee hearing submissions concerning the social and economic impact of rural wind farms.

3. In 2012 the NHMRC commissioned the University of Adelaide to conduct an independent systematic review of the existing scientific literature to examine the possible impacts of wind farms on human health, including audible and inaudible noise. The report states that 2850 potentially relevant references and 506 public submissions were identified. Of these, only eleven (11) articles met the criteria for inclusion with only one study [Morris] conducted in Australia and one [Shepherd et al.] conducted in New Zealand. The NHMRC commissioned further analysis by another set of researchers and presented an update report in 2015. The grand total of reviewed studies came to approximately 4000 with 13 studies meeting the criteria for inclusion.

4. The conclusions and discussions in the systemic review appear different to those presented in the 2014 NHMRC consultation draft “Evidence on wind farms and human health”.

Consequently I do not intend my submission to be a review of the merits of either document, nor the 2015 revisions. It is critical to state that, despite the words of Professor Anderson, no affected residents’ or anecdotal material was included in the systematic review.


  • The NHMRC gives an appearance of being biased towards dismissal of adverse health effects raised by ordinary people;
  • The NHMRC has commissioned / prepared wind farm reports that do not stand ‘commonsense’ scrutiny and show technical bias;
  • The NHMRC has wasted scare resources pursuing academic purity in investigating wind farm studies that a first-year university student would know did not deal with adverse health effects. To this end the NHMRC has commissioned two major studies that reviewed some 4000 papers and only found some thirteen (13) studies to be pure enough for their purposes;
  • The above figures show that the NHMRC failed to understand the concerns of ordinary people affected by wind farm noise and commissioned studies to emphatically “show” that few health effects studies exist. That is, they prejudged the outcome;
  • The NHMRC Statement: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health states that:

Given these reported experiences and the limited reliable evidence, NHMRC considers that further, higher quality, research is warranted. NHMRC will issue a Targeted Call for Research into wind farms and human health to encourage Australia’s best researchers to undertake independent, high quality research investigating possible health effects and their causes, particularly within 1,500 m from a wind farm.

  • The budget sum I understand is $500,000 for the proposed research. The Canadian Health study into environmental noise from wind farms has spent $C2.1 million on its study over two years yet the NHMRC thinks that a health effects and causes research project can do far more with far less.
  • I have undertaken extensive research into wind farm noise over many years and have spent, in time and resources, more than the NHMRC is budgeting for a highly complex study.
  • In my view the NHMRC has clearly failed in its duty of care to the Australian people by failing to allow for, and consider, the very real effects and harm presented to Australian residents living near turbines.
  • In my view the NHMRC has issued propaganda (e.g. Wind Turbines and Health-A Rapid Review of the Evidence-July 2010) that has shown bias and a lack of professional integrity.
  • In my view the NHMRC Wind Farms and Human Health Reference Group has failed in its duty of care to the Australian people to commission, review and present a balanced and useful set of reports (see 2015 series).

Dr Bob Thorne
Select Committee on Wind Turbines
Submission 338

Bob goes on to slam the so-called “noise standards”; written by the wind industry and its pet acoustic ‘consultants’, that deliberately exclude all reference to infrasound; or, as in the case of South Australia’s rotten little EPA’s ‘guidelines’, make the wildest claim of all that “modern wind farms” don’t generate infrasound at all.

Bob also belts claims by Acciona and Pacific Hydro that their Waubra and Cape Bridgewater disasters operate in accordance with the ‘toughest’ noise standards in the world, finding that:

Planning Authorities dealing with the Waubra and Cape Bridgewater wind farms have failed in their duty of care to local residents by failing to adequately monitor compliance with wind farm planning approval conditions relating to noise management and complaints.

Bob’s full submission is available here: sub338_Thorne.

STT thinks that Bob’s submission will be pushing on an open door.

The NHMRC has long since disqualified itself as being ready, willing or able to carry out any sensible investigation into the known and obvious impacts of infrasound and low-frequency noise on wind farm neighbours.

Its continued pathetic and clumsy efforts to refute any research that cuts across the ‘party line’ – and to doggedly hide behind a handful of papers that don’t – is, as Bob Thorne points out, pure “propaganda”; exhibiting “bias and a lack of professional integrity”. Ouch! Tough stuff, but STT thinks he’s on the money:

NHMRC Fails Science 101 in Continued Wind Farm Health Cover Up

NHMRC Disqualified from Coalition’s Health Inquiry

Bob’s swipe at the woeful indifference of the Clean Energy Regulator to its statutory duties – you know, the kind under which ‘regulators’ are actually supposed to give a fig about ‘regulating’ – is another solid point, well made.

The CER has complete control over who gets access to the $50 billion LRET subsidy trough. And is more than happy to let all comers wallow in it – without the slightest care as to whether wind power outfits are acting in compliance with the law; and no care at all about the impacts of the subsidy recipients’ misconduct, on hard-working rural Australians.

Some might call it “institutional corruption”, especially where there’s a tonne of evidence to show wind power outfits in persistent breach of planning permits (and, therefore, in breach of State laws) – and the CER simply fluffs and flubs in favour of the wrongdoers:

Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator Doles Out $Billions in Subsidies to Non-Compliant Wind Farms

Thankfully, the team on the Senate Inquiry has all that, and more, in its sights.

senate review

Bob Thorne’s submissions on noise regulations: music to their ears.

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    Bob Thorne says it all, the complete lack of duty of care by the CER and the NHMRC render them incompetent and in need of thorough investigation.

    The NHMRC has a duty to ensure money provided to them via the Tax Payer is spent in a manner ensuring unbiased and effective research is carried out, so Australians can be assured their health is the top priority, not an ideology or Government policy.
    While there are many worthy calls on research funding, at times there has been a lack of diligent allocation to areas which are directly related to human health instead its been directed to social issues.

    Anecdotal reports are a mainstay for medical researchers to know there is something wrong.

    If a section of a community that’s had a change in its environment, reports a health problem ‘un-allocated’ to a cause then the change must be considered as contributing to the reported illnesses AND INVESTIGATED with research funding allocated.

    It makes no difference if the symptoms being reported are the same as those suffered by others in society, these reports should never in the first instance be considered as being caused by a social or psychiatric event.

    The NHMRC has failed in its duty of care to the people of Australia..

  2. Bob Thorne’s submission is right on the money.

    Steven Cooper, Les Huson and Professor Colin Hansen are right up there with Bob Thorne, as they all have the paper work to back up their skills. The mob that run with the wind weasel grubs may have some paper work, but it’s blank as far as acoustic and health affects are concerrned. I can not understand why Goverments allow this stupidity to go on and on.

    • It is simply corruption Bruce, on many levels.

      The willing blindness of the NHMRC, assorted government ministers and their EPAs, and unethical acousticians embedded in an industry where obfuscation and coverup are the norm (think 1980’s Kelley research that was ‘buried’ until recently) is clearly calculated strategic misleading and deceptive conduct in anyone’s language.

      The Greens have willingly manufactured the self righteous moralising ‘wind turbines will save the planet’ delusion for the corporate crooks to milk for all it is worth. (Think Chomsky and Manufacturing Consent). James Lovelock, Greens founder and Gaia seer, to his credit, has ‘outed’ the Wind scam and been attacked for doing so. ‘Shoot the messenger’ is a traditional corporate defense strategy (eg tobacco and asbestos) and the wind industry is no exception when its ‘defense machine’ attack anyone who dares question it on its acoustic pollution, health impacts, economic and environmental sustainability.

      The problem with lies of this magnitude is that they have no future because the truth prevails in the end.

      With some luck, the good senators will call for a Royal Commission to forensically expose this international crime.
      If they have the courage for justice.

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