Queensland Government Cover Up: New Wind Farm Planning Code Deliberately Ignores its own Noise Expert’s Damning Advice

Definition of fraud

Hidden documents reveal expert advice on health dangers from wind farms ignored
Wind Energy Queensland
11 December 2015

Right to information search reveals government noise expert’s advice withheld.

The Queensland Government’s own noise expert has warned proposed rules for wind farms in the State could cause public health and environment problems.

Bryan Lyons, spokesman for the community-based Wind Energy Queensland (WEQ) group, said today the warnings were revealed in documents obtained under a Right To Information (RTI) search.

“These documents show that warnings from the Queensland Government’s own noise expert were hidden from the relevant Minister and from the public,” Mr Lyons said.

“The expert report reveals that the proposed Queensland Government Wind Farm Code (V2) will not protect resident’s health and well-being and will not protect their environmental values.

“The documents obtained under RTI also reveal these concerns were not passed on the Planning Department or the Minister for Planning.”

Mr Lyons said the documents show that, on August 26, the noise expert in the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection provided his superiors with a list of nine points of concern regarding the draft Wind Farm Code.

“Those concerns were not subsequently forwarded from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, who have developed the current draft (version 2) of the Wind Farm Code.

“The concerns raised by the Queensland Government’s own noise expert confirm existing advice that independent noise experts conducting research in this area have already provided to courts, governments, Senate inquiries and community members dealing with wind farm proposals across Queensland.

Mr Lyons said the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection had withheld the expert report.

“Wind Energy Queensland have previously asked Deputy Premier Jackie Trad to seek advice from her own Government noise expert. It is now clear from these documents that concerns were deliberately withheld by the department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

A Senior Official from the Environment and Heritage Protection Department advised the Premier’s Department that they have ‘no fundamental concerns’ with the draft Wind Farm Code.

“However, the advice from the Noise Expert indicates that proposed wind farm standards in Queensland will not protect the health and well-being of our communities. It is extremely disturbing that this advice appears to have been kept secret from the Government department developing the Wind Farm Code, kept secret from the Minister for Planning, and kept hidden from the public.

“We are calling on the Deputy Premier to have the noise sections of the Wind Farm Code redrafted by Noise Experts in the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and scrutinised by an independent panel of Noise Experts, with those peer reviews made publicly available.

“This newly-revealed advice from the EHP Noise Expert also affects the recently approved Mt Emerald Wind Farm on the Atherton Tableland in North Queensland,” Mr Lyons said. “We believe the Mt Emerald approval is presently being negotiated by the applicant, and we call on the Deputy Premier to take this opportunity to immediately amend the approval.”

Mr Lyons said the Government noise expert’s concerns confirm the concerns of residents in the Mt Emerald area that, if developed, the proposed wind farm will harm their community members even if it complies with the conditions of approval.

WEQ is a community-based group formed to ensure better planning of wind farms in Queensland.

The communities represented include Dalveen, Crows Nest, Cooranga north (west of Kingaroy) and Mareeba.”

A copy of the RTI documents is available here: RTI 15-127 – File A

Media inquiries: Bryan Lyons Ph 07 4668 6780
Wind Energy Queensland

Jackie Trad

Jackie Trad plays the Sergeant Schultz defence:
‘I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing’!

****

It turns out that the expert advice produced by the Queensland government’s own acoustics whiz is a ‘no surprises’ statement of known facts – at least to STT followers.

Where that advice roundly criticises the proposed Queensland wind farm noise ‘standards’, it does so on the very same factual basis of more than a decade’s worth of research carried out by NASA (you might have heard of them?); that demonstrated the adverse health effects caused by incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound, including sleep deprivation. Facts which have been known to the wind industry for 30 years; and deliberately covered up ever since:

VW Mk II: Wind Industry’s Acoustic Consultants Caught In Noise ‘Standard’ Scandal

Three Decades of Wind Industry Deception: A Chronology of a Global Conspiracy of Silence and Subterfuge

Dr Malcolm Swinbanks tells Senate: ‘NASA’s 1980s Research on Health Effects from Wind Farm Noise More Relevant Than Ever’

As the wind industry began to take off in the early 1990s it needed to set noise limits and planning criteria that would not present any obstacle to it in rolling out turbines in quiet rural environments.

The wind industry gathered what became known as the “noise working group” in 1995; a group which then, and thereafter, worked on wind industry noise guidelines.

The result was a document called ETSU-R-97.

That document reads as if the NASA research had never happened as it:

  • excludes any reference to low-frequency noise (the source of the problem shown by the NASA research as the cause of the sensations and symptoms suffered);
  • excludes the noise descriptors and weightings that were found by the NASA research to be the best predictors of the annoyance caused to neighbours, and the sensations and symptoms suffered;
  • relies exclusively on the dB(A) weighting (found to be irrelevant as a consequence of the NASA research);
  • assumes that, in all cases, the sound pressure levels inside neighbouring homes are substantially less than what is recorded outside those homes (entirely to the contrary of the findings made in the NASA research);
  • excludes testing inside homes for noise of any frequency (let alone low-frequency noise);
  • instead, limits noise testing to measurements taken external to homes, using the dB(A) weighting only;
  • established methods by which monitoring equipment can be placed in a way that will simply measure environmental noise (eg “wind in the trees”). In the first instance, these “methods” allow for the placement of monitoring equipment in locations where high levels can be recorded prior to the construction of a wind farm (eg, underneath trees or in bushes). Subsequently, noise level criteria can be met by simply shifting the location of the monitoring equipment (eg, placing them in the open away from trees or bushes).

All of the wind industry noise standards or guidelines which have emerged around the world since then can trace their origins to ETSU-R-97 – think of it as the wind industry’s template for deception.

Over the last decade or so, the wind industry has fought tooth and nail to defend these standards or guidelines. It has resisted all attempts or even suggestions that would:

  • result in standards which include the measurement of low-frequency noise and infrasound;
  • set controls for low-frequency noise and infrasound inside homes;
  • require wind farm operators to cooperate with meaningful noise testing by, for example:
    • shutting turbines on and off in order to distinguish between the noise generated by turbines and environmental noise, such as wind in the trees; or
    • providing operational data, such as wind speed and power output data;

Indeed, whenever these topics are raised by authorities or community groups the wind industry becomes defensive; and even aggressive in response.

Along the way, the wind industry continued to press planning authorities for even higher noise limits than were originally set (in the irrelevant dB(A) measure, of course) – that would permit ever larger turbines to be located ever closer to residential homes; planning authorities and Environmental Protection Agencies willingly obliged.

Precisely the same ingredients have been used in the proposed Queensland noise standard; which is why its own expert advice (set out below) is eerily familiar to our summary of what the wind industry set out to do with ETSRU-97; namely, to create a licence for the wind industry to spear these things anywhere they like; and, in doing so, to destroy people’s abilities to live in, sleep in and otherwise enjoy their very own homes.

Here’s what the Queensland government knows about its noise ‘standards’ (which it claims are the ‘toughest in the World’, no less), from its own internal advice:

Bullet points for Draft Wind Farm State Code acoustics review

  • Acoustics problems associated with wind-farms are due to the infrasonic and low frequencies harmonics and the interaction between several turbines. Those generate annoyances and lead to higher intensity health effects.
  • By using both a time average and frequency weighting, by definition, all those harmonics disappear and as such no assessments of the impact of those harmonics can be made.
  • To assess those harmonics, it is necessary to use unfiltered data and no time average.
  • The low frequencies and infrasound effects cannot be assessed by dBA. By design, the A filtering process takes away low frequency and infrasound. Low frequencies and infrasound need to be assessed by dBlin which is unfiltered data according to frequency.
  • Annoyance has not being considered in either guideline.
  • Wind masking has been applied as if it was masking noise of similar frequencies and this is not the case.
  • The distance of 1500m as a buffer will not be sufficient for the current size of wind turbine. This distance had originated years ago for much smaller sized turbines and at the time was probably a correct distance.
  • The noise criteria proposed in the draft wind farm state code is most likely not able to protect residents for their health and well-being and will not protect their environmental values.
  • It is uncertain and unlikely that the noise criteria proposed in the draft wind farm state code will protect animals such as farmed animals for their health and well-being from low and infrasonic noise exposure.

STT hears that threatened and furious Queensland communities – like those surrounding Mt Emerald on the Atherton Tablelands – have seized, not only the fact of the Queensland government’s own scathing internal advice about its so-called noise ‘standard’, but also on the fact that bureaucrats within the chain of command did everything in their power to ensure that that advice never saw the light of day.

Ah, Queensland: beautiful one day, rotten to the core the next.

Mt Emerald Steve Lavis & Shane Knuth

Mt Emerald defenders, Steve Lavis & Shane Knuth MP:
Queenslanders deserve a whole lot better than this.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Just to give the attribution, the scientist who created the Draft Wind Farm State Code for the Queensland government was Queensland Government Noise Expert – Dr Antoine David

    It looks like he was so annoyed by the Queensland government that he released the information himself, just after his work was ignored.

    http://www.windaction.org/posts/43966-comments-by-queensland-government-noise-expert-dr-antoine-david#.VpXk9fn5i70

    He has also re-released this information on wind-watch today. Maybe STT could contact him for more details on how he arrived at the bullet points he drafted and maybe why the Queensland government chose to ignore them?

  2. That would be great to see someone earn their pay.
    Instead of passing the buck.

  3. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    It looks like corruption abounds in relation to this industry, no matter the country. Some countries have shown this through investigation and legal action yet here in Australia they are being encouraged to keep going by our current PM Turnbull and his mate Greg Hunt who have again given them ‘hope’ by opening the public purse which is filled by OUR money to assist what is an OLD industry with nothing new to offer, whether on or off shore.
    It is a failed energy production source.
    When an industry is so corrupt and useless it can only keep going with assistance from blinkered politicians and those with interest in its continued operations.
    Giving funding to an industry which has not undertaken any innovation for years and has shown all it proposes is larger turbines which is NOT investing in innovation.

  4. Stand against wind says:

    The Queensland community demands protection from wind turbine noise. It’s not rocket science, if the government is determined to build these things, get them away from people and farming communities. Mount Emerald is a looming disaster on our horizon.

  5. The newly appointed Federal Wind Commissioner is going to be very busy!

  6. E Griffiths says:

    This article has given me a timely opportunity to point out a couple of more things about ETSU-R-97:

    Link to ETSU document:
    http://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/49869/ETSU_Full_copy__Searchable_.pdf

    ETSU guidelines were developed by the UK govt in collusioin with the windustry to facilitate development of the windustry without undue burden.

    Another interesting fact about ETSU is it’s disclaimer at the front of the document:
    “This report was drawn up under the direction of the Noise Working Group. While the information contained in this report is given in good faith, it is issued strictly on the basis that any person or entity relying on it does so entirely at their own risk, and without the benefit of any warranty or commitment whatsoever on the part of the individuals or organisations involved in the report as to the veracity or accuracy of any facts or statements contained in this report. The views and judgements expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of ETSU, the Department of Trade and Industry or any of the other participating organisations.”

    My interpretation of the disclaimer:
    1) The disclaimer states that any person or company relies on the ETSU guidelines at their own risk,
    2) The govt has distanced itself from the report by stating it is NOT responsible for the guidelines and recommendations, even though they commissioned the guidelines.
    *************

    Intro – Page 23 in PDF document:
    “The report was drafted in the light of the best information available at the time. However it is acknowledged that as more experience and information become available and as circumstances develop it may become necessary to revise and improve the contents of this report. The Noise Working Group therefore suggests this report and its recommendations are reviewed in two years time. To this end, any comments on the usefulness of the report would be most welcome, including any suggestions for improvement with any supporting evidence where possible.”

    NOTE: To my knowledge ETSU-R-97 has never been reviewed or updated.
    … Hmm, I wonder if this will be good grounds for challenging the validity of using ETSU-R-97 guidelines for assessing wind turbine noise guidelines?

  7. “All of the wind industry noise standards or guidelines which have emerged around the world since then can trace their origins to ETSU-R-97 – think of it as the wind industry’s template for deception.”
    Could someone tell me if it’s possible that we’re experiencing the direct effects of this deception here in Huron County in Ontario where the wind companies are siting turbines in such a way as to completely surround our homes?

  8. Terry Conn says:

    Once again this is stark proof that the ‘elitists’ in government departments across the country that receive huge taxpayer funded salaries and benefits have absolutely zero regard for the citizens of the state they are supposed to look after, rather its using their position to bully them in anyway they choose. ‘Rotten to the core’ is putting it kindly. Time to take a stand, no point waiting until the next life.

    • E Griffiths says:

      Terry, I’m taking a stand against my corrupt council now, but not in relation to wind farm construction. I’m writing this in order to illustrate the extent of fraudulent antics to which the council reps (at least here in the UK) will plunge in order to secure their agreements.

      I’ve witnessed first hand how council officials will make verbal assurances which exceed their authority and blatantly lie in order to secure an agreement … and later deny point blank every comment they made. They’ve also disappeared a document they showed me which would prove I’m telling the truth.

      Do not trust council 1 millimeter to tell you the truth and honour their verbal assurances. My council and my useless land agent expected me to roll over and allow myself to get shafted – they’ve picked on the wrong person 🙂 I’m going after both of them.

      I still own the land which council needed to build their poxy bridge. Despite me voiding our verbal agreement and ordering them off my land and not to tear up my track until a new settlement was in place and I was paid in full, they disobeyed my order and continued with the construction. It just so happens they did this after the agreed license period had expired. How sad for them.

  9. It appears the Government is going to back these things again financially.

    So the Wind Farms are going to be subsidised again. How much will we all pay for electricity?

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