South Australian Wind Turbine Noise Study Targets Neurological Effects on Sleep

Government noise regulators have spent 30 years covering up the effects of wind turbine noise on neighbours, and have done so with the help of the wind industry’s pet acoustic consultants: Three Decades of Wind Industry Deception: A Chronology of a Global Conspiracy of Silence and Subterfuge

Australia can count its ethical acoustic engineers on one hand. The majority of them sold their souls to the wind industry for 30 pieces of silver long ago.

Men like Steven Cooper, Dr Bob Thorne and Les Huson demonstrate the ethics and integrity one associates with a learned profession. But there are plenty of others who’ve chosen dollars over decency, and who will do and say anything that their wind industry paymasters tell them to, right down to throwing fictitious figures into bogus noise-‘compliance’ reports: Pacific Hydro & Acciona’s Acoustic ‘Consultant’ Fakes ‘Compliance’ Reports for Non-Compliant Wind Farms

Standing with the few is Adelaide’s Professor Colin Hansen, one of nature’s gentlemen and true scholars; Colin passed on more than just his genes to his daughter, Dr Kristy Hansen, lecturer in the College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University .

Kristy (pictured above) is equipped with not only her father’s fine scholarly attributes, but is equally eager to get to the truth about the precise cause of the adverse health effects, including sleep disturbance, suffered by wind farm neighbours.

We reported on one of their joint efforts here: “Unscheduled” Wind Farm Shut-Down Shows Low-Frequency Noise Impact at Waterloo, SA

Kristy has now teamed up with a sleep specialist, Peter Catcheside, from the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, College of Medicine and Public Health, in an effort to properly record the effects of incessant, wind turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound on sleep, and to do so from a neuro-physiological perspective.

The connection between pulsing, low-frequency wind turbine noise and neuro-physiological effects has already been made by the Max Planck Institute in Germany: Wind Farm Victim’s Smoking Gun: German Research Reveals Infrasound Exposure Causes Stress, Sleep Disruption & More

This time Kristy and her team are ready to take the matter from the lab and out into the field.

Flinders University’s five-year study looks into wind farms’ effects on health

ABC Radio
Sara Garcia
25 January 2018

A study on wind farm noise, being conducted at Flinders University in Adelaide, is setting out to find out just how the noise from wind turbines affects people’s health.

While it is too soon to release any results, Professor Peter Catcheside from Flinders University’s Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health told ABC Radio Adelaide he hoped the project would be able to answer questions on the controversial topic of wind farms’ health effects on people.

“We got into this area because we recognised that there was an ongoing debate and that there’s some unanswered questions in this area, for which we felt we had expertise that could help put this debate to bed,” Professor Catcheside said.

So, what is the study looking at?
The Wind Farm Noise Study will for the first time use direct sleep recordings of brain waves and cardiovascular measurements to assess the impact of different noises.

The study, which has three parts to it, includes an in-home study of sleep and noise in people affected by wind farm noise and a laboratory study investigating noise effects in a controlled sleep and noise environment.

“We’re really focussing on the sleep elements of this debate, we think if there are adverse health effects, the most likely explanation for those would be through sleep disturbance and really no-one has looked in enough detail at sleep specifically,” Professor Catcheside said.

“Sleep’s quite a hard thing to measure and the only way to do it is to actually measure it with electrodes on people’s heads … they’re challenging studies to do and I think that’s why they haven’t been done to date.

“Our main focus is to specifically look at ‘Is wind turbine noise any different from any other noise in terms of the level of sleep disturbance’ and we know from quite a big area of literature that noise does disturb sleep, that’s already established.”

Professor Catcheside said the biggest part of the experiment will be the in-laboratory study, which will measure the sleep of people affected by wind turbine noise and those that aren’t.

He said it would be a controlled environment, in which the sleep specialists will play different noises across the night on different nights.

“[What we’re looking at] is the specific affect of wind turbine noise compared to other noises on human sleep,” he said.

“Really mainly looking at the objective measurements of sleep with [these] recordings to see how well people sleep in that sort of environment and also how much sleep is fragmented and disturbed by discreet noise events.”

Is there something unique about wind turbine noise?
According to mechanical engineer and Flinders University lecturer Dr Kristy Hansen — yes.

Dr Hansen’s area of study has seen her focus on wind farms and acoustics sounds for the past five to six years.

She said noise created from wind farms are low frequency, which can be more easily heard in a typical Australian residence.

“By the time the windfarm noise reaches their house it’s very much dominated by low frequencies,” she said.

“So it’s almost like if you live in a place near a concert you live far enough away so you can’t hear the music you just hear the ‘doof, doof, doof’ of the bass, so it’s a similar kind of thing.”

Similarly to the bass sound at a concert, Dr Hansen said the noise wasn’t continuous.

“So like if you’re in a hotel, a very cheap hotel, and there’s a noisy refrigerator in there and it’s humming and then not only is that noise annoying because it’s a hum, but then imagine if someone starts switching it on and off every second,” she explained.

“That’s the kind of noise we are talking about — so even if the noise is not particularly loud just because of the nature of that noise it makes it particularly annoying.”

Does that kind of noise penetrate a house wall?
The short answer according to Dr Hansen is, again, yes.

“[A house] will block some of it out, but not all of it and certainly a house will be more effective at blocking out the high frequency noise or the mid frequency noise, which is more characteristic of traffic noise,” she said.

Dr Hansen said current environmental laws assume noise, like that coming from wind turbines, will be blocked out by the home.

“They assume that the house is going to block out the sound for windfarm noise exactly the same way as it would for traffic noise,” she said.

“At this stage it is hard to say how far you have to be away to be affected because our current research is looking more into the human response to the noise.

“But in terms of measuring the noise, we’ve measured a difference between when the windfarm is not operating and when it’s operating up to 9 kilometres away.”

When will we see results?
It could take a few years yet before any results from the study are released.

“We really need to wait for the evidence to come in before we can really see any firm conclusions,” Professor Catcheside said.

“We hope that there will be some elements of the project that we can release before then, but basically we won’t be in a position to release any findings until we’ve got a fully complete study that answers a specific question one way or another.”

Professor Catcheside said the project is an independent study that has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

“It’s [the project] been through the Australian peer review system, which is a very tough environment to get funding in to support this area of research and essentially that process ensures that only high quality science is funded to answer legitimate unanswered questions,” he said.
ABC Radio

Sleep killers: what drives them nuts at Waterloo.


The ABC doubles as wind cult central in Australia, so it’s remarkable that the Hansen/Catcheside study got any coverage at all.

For more information on the study, click here

Their work even managed to gain traction in South Australia on ABC Radio 891, which normally sounds like a ‘greened’-up version of Radio Moscow. Here’s the audio of their 28 minute interview (transcript follows):



David Bevan: Yesterday we were talking about wind farms. We’ve talked about wind farms a lot over the last few months, and I put to Mark Butler, the federal Labor member for Port Adelaide before nine o’clock, “Look, do you think it’s fair to ridicule people who believe that wind farms are affecting their health?” That question was sparked by an ALP campaign against Xenophon, and it goes back to a video interview that Xenophon gave about four years ago where he said, “Look, there are wind farms refugees, people who have wind farms near their property, and they believe it’s causing them to be unwell.”

Now, Mark Butler said, “Look, the broad general science, nothing has been shown to show any ill-effects for people living near wind farms. It just doesn’t exist.” And I said, “Well, look, there are some people who are looking into these things. For instance, we have some researchers at Flinders University who are looking at wind farm noise, and is there any connection between that and the feeling of ill-health that some people have.”

Very glad to say that we have with us in this next 20 minutes or so, Professor Peter Catcheside and Dr Kristy Hansen, and they’re both at Flinders University. And they’re here to explain their research into wind farms. And that’s what we’re going to do. Our phone lines are open 1300-222-891 and the SMS line is 0467-922-891.

Professor Catcheside, good morning to you.

Prof Peter Catcheside: Good morning, David.

David Bevan: And thank you for coming on. Now, you’re with the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University. Is that correct?

Prof Peter Catcheside: That’s right. Yes.

David Bevan: And on the other phone line is your associate, Dr Kristy Hansen, lecturer in the College of Sciences and Engineering, also at Flinders University. Good morning, Kristy Hansen.

Dr Kristy Hansen: Good Morning.

David Bevan: Now, just to begin with, let’s start with some really basic things. Let’s just go through your credentials, who we’re talking to here, because the issue of renewables, wind farms, ill-health, it’s really quite a toxic debate. So we’re going to work our way through this in a really basic way. Let’s just start with your credentials. Professor Catcheside, who are you? Why should we take any notice of anything that you’re doing?

Prof Peter Catcheside: I’m a physiologist. I’ve got a PhD in exercise physiology, actually. And I’ve had a long-standing interest in human responses during sleep. A lot of my research is in the area of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring and other problems in sleep. I guess we got into this area because we recognise that there was an ongoing debate and that there’s some unanswered questions in this area for which we felt we had expertise that we could help put the debate to bed. That’s really what we’ve tried to do. We’ve put together the team that we have, which is an unusual mix of sleep experts as well as acoustic experts.

Prof Peter Catcheside: And the sleep experts cover a range of areas. We’ve got myself covering sort of the physiology of sleep disturbance. But we’ve also got a team of psychologists who are experts in the area of insomnia, which is relevant to this area as well. It is an unusual area. There’s very few groups around the world with sort of all of that expertise in one package. That’s where we’re coming from.

David Bevan: Right. And you have a tenured position at Flinders University?

Prof Peter Catcheside: Yeah. I do now. Yes.

David Bevan: Okay. And where did you get your qualifications?

Prof Peter Catcheside: I did my PhD at University of Adelaide. Basically, I’ve worked in sleep laboratories for the last 20 years or so, doing various studies looking at the physiology of sleep disturbance as well as clinical trials in the area of sleep medicine to try and improve outcomes for people who’ve got sleep problems.

David Bevan: Okay. Now Dr Kristy Hansen. You’re a lecturer in the College of Science and Engineering at Flinders University. What’s your background? Where are your qualifications coming from?

Dr Kristy Hansen: I studied mechanical engineering at the University of Adelaide. And after that I did my PhD, and I focused mainly on aerodynamics and also acoustics. And after that I did my postdoc, and that’s when I got into the wind turbine noise area. That was in 2012. And ever since then I’ve been working in this area and focusing on the acoustics and doing a lot of measurements, and doing a lot of fieldwork, and we’ve collected many terabytes of data, and I’ve been going through and analysing that for the past five or six years.

David Bevan: Okay. Who’s paying for the research, Kristy?

Dr Kristy Hansen: In 2012, I was a Research Associate, or a postdoc on a grant that was sponsored by the Australian Research Council.

David Bevan: The Australian Research Council is what? The independent body? Federal government? They assess proposals for research and hand out the dosh?

Dr Kristy Hansen: Yes. Exactly.

David Bevan: Okay. This isn’t being funded by coal? It’s not being funded by gas or petroleum, or anyone else?

Dr Kristy Hansen: No. Not at all.

David Bevan: Okay. This question, it’s an insulting question, and I’m sorry for that, but the debate around renewable energy is so toxic, I think it’s best just to come straight out and ask it. Do either of you have an anti-wind farm or climate change denial agenda? Professor Catcheside.

Prof Peter Catcheside: No. We don’t. As scientists, we absolutely have to be extremely careful to leave personal opinions out of it, and really do good science to answer the unknown answers to the questions that we’re pursuing.

David Bevan: Right.

Prof Peter Catcheside: No. There’s no agenda there.

David Bevan: Okay. It’s accepted by the vast majority of mainstream science that man-made climate change is real, it’s happening. Do you have a problem with that?

Prof Peter Catcheside: As a scientist, it’s not my field exactly, but I think … in that area to support that there are … you know, renewable energy is an important thing to pursue to get off coal. But as I said, that’s not my area of expertise.

David Bevan: And it doesn’t affect your work? You don’t bring that to your work? You’re saying it’s quite independent of that?

Prof Peter Catcheside: Yeah. Absolutely. This project that we’re pursuing … So we’ve got a five year trial, which is being funded by the NHMRC. And we’re just over a year into that. So this is independent research. It’s been through the Australian peer review system, which is a very tough environment to get funding in to support this area of research.

And essentially, that process ensures that only high-quality science is funded to answer legitimate unanswered questions. So we’re really focusing on the sleep elements in this debate, where we think if there are adverse health affects, the most likely explanation for those would be through sleep disturbance.

David Bevan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Prof Peter Catcheside: And really no one has looked in enough detail at sleep specifically. But sleep’s quite a hard thing to measure. And the only way to do it is to actually measure it with electrodes on people’s heads in sort of either field experiments or in laboratory trials. And they’re challenging studies to do. And I think that’s why they haven’t been done to date. And that’s really our main focus is to really very specifically look at, is wind turbine noise any different from any other noise in terms of the level of sleep disturbance?

And we know from quite a big area of literature that noise does disturb sleep. That’s already established. And it’s really how loud is the noise and how intrusive is the noise as to how bad the disturbance is. So we’re really looking at is when farm noise any different to any other noise and then mapping out the dose-response sort of effects.

David Bevan: Okay. Well, let’s get down then to your research. Is there evidence that the noise made by wind turbine is different from other noise, which … Well, for instance, as I understand it, a lot of our environmental protection law at the moment is built around things like traffic noise. Is there something peculiar, something unique, about wind turbine noise?

Prof Peter Catcheside: I think Kristy should answer that.

David Bevan: Because you’re the engineer, aren’t you Kristy?

Dr Kristy Hansen: Yes. That’s right. Yeah. At a typical residence in rural Australia near a wind farm, by the time the wind farm noise reaches their house, it’s very much dominated by low-frequencies. So it’s almost like if you live in a place near a concert, and you live far enough away so you can’t really hear the music, you just hear the duff-duff-duff of the bass, so it’s a similar kind of thing.

Dr Kristy Hansen: That’s another thing about the noise, is that it’s not a continuous type of noise, it’s like someone switching something on and off. So like, if you’re in a hotel, a very cheap hotel, and there’s a noisy refrigerator in there, and it’s humming. Not only is that noise annoying because it’s a hum, but imagine if someone then starts switching it on and off every second. That’s the kind of noise we’re talking about. Even if the noise is not particularly loud, just because of the nature of that noise, it makes it particularly annoying.

David Bevan: Does that kind of noise penetrate a house wall? So that a house wall might block out say, traffic noise, but that kind of low-level duff-duff noise. Would a house wall block that out?

Dr Kristy Hansen: It would block some of it out, but not all of it. And certainly, a house wall would be more effective in blocking out the high-frequency noise or mid-frequency noise, which is more characteristic of traffic noise.

David Bevan: Okay. Do our environmental laws, do they cater for something like this?

Dr Kristy Hansen: Basically they assume that the house is gonna block out the sound for wind farm noise, exactly the same as it would for traffic noise at the moment.

David Bevan: And that would not be the case?

Dr Kristy Hansen:  No.

David Bevan: How far away do you have to be, to be affected by this? I mean, what’s near to a wind farm? Could you be …? Are we talking about a few hundred metres or a few kilometres? How close do you have to be, to be affected?

Dr Kristy Hansen: At this stage it’s hard to say how far you have to be, to be affected, because our current research is looking more into the human response to the noise. But in terms of measuring the noise, we’ve measured a difference between when the wind farm is not operating and when it’s operating up to nine kilometres away.

David Bevan: Nine kilometres away.

Dr Kristy Hansen: Yes.

David Bevan: That’s a long way.

Dr Kristy Hansen: Yeah.

David Bevan: We got an email from a lady listening in Portugal, which is nice, after she heard my conversation with Mark Butler. And she said to me, “Look, Portugal’s got a much higher density of wind turbines than South Australia, and I’ve never heard anyone complaining of it.” I don’t know if she’s polled everybody in Portugal, but anyway, she says she’s never heard of anybody complaining about wind noise from wind turbines in Portugal.

[Note to Dave – he should read this post about Dr Mariana Alves-Pereira’s work in Portugal on wind turbine noise]

David Bevan: She makes the point that people pay a huge premium for homes facing the beach, where she says, “The infrasound noise from waves is much more powerful than any sounds from a wind turbine. But nobody ever reports ill-effects from that.” Is that a fair comparison?

Dr Kristy Hansen: Not really, because the noise from wind turbines is more like a pulse, and it’s a regular pulse, and it’s occurring every time the blade passes the tower. It’s a mechanical noise, whereas the noise from the beach is very random, so it’s always different. We’re not comparing the same kind of noise types.

David Bevan: Okay. Would it also be the case that, that’s a self-selecting group of people. I mean, if you like living near the beach, presumably you don’t mind the noise, whereas there might be some people who are particularly sensitive to noise who’ve gone out to empty country regions, and then woken up the next day to find that a wind farm has been put up. And so the noise is introduced to them. So you’re going to get people perhaps who are sensitive to noise, living out in rural areas. You’re not gonna get people who are sensitive to noise living next door to a beach.

Dr Kristy Hansen: Yes. That’s true as well.

David Bevan: Kristy, your research, does it involve actually strapping electrodes to people’s heads?

Dr Kristy Hansen: No. That would be going into Peter’s area.

David Bevan: Ah. Peter. Professor Peter Catcheside, can you explain what are you doing in terms of your research, in terms of individuals who are complaining about ill-effects from wind farms?

Prof Peter Catcheside: Sure. Well, we’ve got a number of elements to the larger project. And we are doing direct sleep measurements with electrodes on people’s heads. That’s really the only definitive way to measure sleep. Things like activity trackers that try and guess if you’re awake or asleep based on movement, are just not really good enough for answering these sorts of questions.

Prof Peter Catcheside: And there is some evidence from both sorts of measurements. And those studies have found no evidence that there are systematic sleep disturbance effects. But they actually haven’t measured sleep. So we are very specifically going out. We’re doing fieldwork, going out to people’s homes with Kristy and the other acoustic engineers on the team, where we’re doing simultaneous acoustic recordings and time-locked sleep measurements in people’s homes for a couple of nights in a row.

The biggest part of the trial is actually an in laboratory experiment where we’re bringing people, various groups of people, those who’ve been exposed to wind turbine noise as well as people who haven’t been exposed to wind turbine noise in the past. And then putting them to bed in the sleep laboratory where we can carefully control the environment, both acoustically and in other aspects.

And then playing different noises across the night and on different nights. Noise you know, what is the very specific effects of wind turbine noise compared to other noises on human sleep. Really mainly looking at the objective measurements of sleep with EEG recordings to see how well people sleep in that sort of environment and also how much sleep is fragmented and disturbed by discrete noise events, which we can measure from both brain activity changes as well as things like heart rate responses and other physiological responses to stimuli.

David Bevan: One piece of research that was explained to me described that there would be a monitor outside picking up this low-level woof-woof, duff-duff sound that’s coming from the turbine. You’d have the person inside the house with a log, and they’re able to say … write down in their log, it’s totally subjective, “I feel crook right now, feel uneasy, feel annoyed …” Write down their emotions throughout the night.

And then, you’d also have something measuring their brainwave activity, to see whether there’s something quite independent of their feelings actually going on in their head. Is that close to what you’re doing?

Prof Peter Catcheside: Yes. That is what we are doing.

David Bevan: That’s it in a nutshell? You’ve got three sources. You’ve got the person saying whether they feel unwell. You’ve got something measuring the activity in their head. And then you’ve got a box outside saying whether or not there is a sound coming from a wind turbine.

Prof Peter Catcheside: Yeah. Feeling well or unwell is something that is really hard to study, and we figured that was too difficult to answer in our project. So really our main focus is on the sleep effects, and I think at the end of our study, if we find no difference, if we find no systematic effects of wind turbine noise, then the need, I guess the value of doing larger trials to look at those longer-term health impacts, which are actually very difficult studies to do, they would be more difficult to justify if we do find effects, then I think that would lay the groundwork for those more difficult trials, that would more specifically look at health effects.

Really we’re looking first at the … I guess we’re looking at the mechanisms through which health effects could arise, really focused on sleep. If sleep is disturbed systematically by this type of noise, then I think that really is a legitimate reason to go on and suspect that there really could be adverse health outcomes in the long-term that would actually be very difficult to answer those studies. Those epidemiological studies are inherently difficult for a number of reasons that you’ve already alluded to.

David Bevan: So that’s the work you’re doing. How long have you been doing it?

Prof Peter Catcheside: We’re about 18 months into our five-year project.

David Bevan: Have you got any results that you can share with our listeners? Any conclusions that you’re drawing?

Prof Peter Catcheside: No. We don’t. We really need to wait for the evidence to come in before we can release any firm conclusions.

David Bevan: And how long before … Are we gonna have to wait another three and a half years?

Prof Peter Catcheside: For the main trial, unfortunately, yes. We hope that there will be some elements of the project that we can release before then, but we basically won’t be in a position to release any findings until we’ve got a fully complete study that answers a specific question one way or the other.

David Bevan: And Peter Catcheside from Flinders University, Professor Peter Catcheside, what sort of people are we talking about? You actually go into their homes. You’ve met these people. Just ordinary people? Or, are they people who are suffering from other illnesses? Are they particularly sensitive? They are mocked by some sections of our political debate. What sort of people are we talking about here?

Prof Peter Catcheside: For the fieldwork we really focused on people who live close to a wind farm facility, and are willing and able to participate in really quite intrusive experiments, where we set up acoustic recordings for several weeks and then come into their home and set them up for sleep studies overnight.

And that is potentially a self-selected population, and our main focus in those experiments is to look very closely at their objective measurements of sleep, and the objective measurements of noise events during the night to explore for relationships between those two things.

The main trial itself is focused in the lab where those sorts of issues we can control much better. And for the lab study we are aiming to … Well, we are recruiting people from different backgrounds. So people who have been exposed to wind turbine noise in a rural setting, and are willing to come to the laboratory for studies, as well as people who’ve been exposed and don’t have noise complaints as another control group.

And we’ve got two other control groups in that main study. One is a traffic noise exposed group as a positive control, and also people from a quiet rural setting where they’ve never had a wind turbine exposure, and again, study them in the lab environment. And essentially for the main trial we’re not playing any noises until people are actually objectively asleep. We know they’ve gone to sleep, so they don’t actually know what’s coming.

And we can randomise what noise exposures they get within the night and across nights, so we can tease out some of those complex things that we just can’t control in the field setting to really answer this question as well as anyone can. What are the impacts on of sleep? Of this particular noise type on sleep in a laboratory setting, where everything else is controlled as well as possible.

David Bevan: We’re talking to Professor Peter Catcheside from Flinders University, and his colleague, Dr Kristy Hansen, who’s an engineer. And she’s also based at Flinders University. Graham has called from Dernancourt. Hello Graham.

Graham: Yeah. Good morning David. How are you?

David Bevan: Very well. You’ve been waiting patiently. What’s your point?

Graham: The point I wanna make is I was up at Mount Bryan, here about six months ago, that’s in the Mid North near Hallett. And the people I stayed with, I said, “Oh, can I watch the golf? You’ve got Foxtel.” They said, “No we haven’t.” I said, “Well, you’ve got a dish on the roof.” They said, “Oh. That’s been put there by the state government, because we lost all our reception through the wind farms.”

David Bevan: Ah. Okay.

Graham: So what does that say to you in regards to maybe health reasons regarding that if the TV towers are being affected … If your TV can’t get reception, then there’s a beam, there’s an electronic something or other happening within the system, that affects TV coverage, well, that goes back to the humans, if they’re complaining about some other factor.

So if you wanna check on that. It is a fact, it is true. And the state government have put all these dishes on all the homes that within the radius of the wind farms at the government’s expense to overcome TV reception. So it is something to check out.

David Bevan: Graham. Thank you for your call. Rob has called from Sturt. Hello Rob.

Rob: Hi David. I was just interested in … Kristy made a comment that this pulse seems to be generated when the blade goes past the tower. Now it’s really interesting, and if you go to Europe the pylons seem to be much lower than they are here, almost like a quarter to a third lower. But we also just recently noticed in Spain that a lot of the turbines aren’t sitting on a single pillar as such, but they’re like a metal framework similar to a transmission line.

David Bevan: Okay.

Rob: The pulse is generated by the blade going past this great lump of concrete or whatever.

David Bevan: Yeah.

Rob: Is that a factor?

David Bevan: It would make sense, wouldn’t it? If you’re getting different sounds from different structures. Rob, thank you for your call. Hans from Crafers at 9:29. Good morning, Hans.

Hans: Oh. Good morning, Dave. Yeah. So I agree with Rob. It’s interesting, I have been working with the state government and together within the Woomera prohibitive area, and the defence force definitely don’t want any wind turbines within their area, because it interferes with the frequencies that they use.

David Bevan: Okay. Well, Hans …

Hans: But more to the point, is that I’ve recently come back from northern Germany, and been to the factory where they built the first wind turbine. And they have now redesigned all the blades, because the frequency comes off of the tips of the blades onto the ground. And the new blades now have got the end of the blades turned up like new aircraft wings. And they say that, that reduces most of the frequency …

David Bevan: All right.

Hans: … and it shoots it out into the air rather than down onto the ground.

David Bevan:Hans, thank you for your call. Professor Peter Catcheside, before you leave us, if you discover a problem, and we might be three and a half years away from your research, and that’s going to prompt more research, and more research, and more research. But if a problem is established that these things are able to cause some ill-health effects, first of all, some people are entitled to an apology. But that wouldn’t necessarily mean that you’re gonna close down wind farms, would it? It might lead to all sorts of consequences.

David Bevan: You might say, well, it’s much better to have wind farms than dig up coal, so we’re going to have wind farms but these people are entitled to have certain sound proofing put in their homes. Or they’re entitled to certain compensation. You might care for these people and still keep your wind turbines. Is that a fair comment?

Prof Peter Catcheside: I think airports are a good analogy, because plane noise is really very intrusive, and there are noise guidelines and curfews on those sorts of things to control noise and impact on people’s amenity in their living environment. And I think, as Kristy pointed out, there could be problems with the way that low frequency noise is measured in the dBA scale, and I think the results of our trial will be very informative as to how that should be measured.

If it is a problem we’ll be able to come up with potentially alternative strategies for actually measuring that more appropriately, and then working out what sort of setbacks, what sort of distances wind farms should be away from people’s houses to mitigate some of those effects. So look, I think, absolutely there will be a common ground where … you know, maybe the current noise guidelines are okay, and I guess that’s something we will find out. And if they are okay, then we’ll know that. If they aren’t okay, then we should be able to inform how they might be changed to improve outcomes for more people.

David Bevan: I know you’re a scientist, you don’t wanna get involved in the political debate. But it seems to me that the fact that you’re doing all this work, and this is a five-year programme, this is a mainstream university, two mainstream scientists and your teams, the fact that you’re doing this work speaks volumes, that you’re not dismissing the issue of noise and ill-health and wind turbines.

Prof Peter Catcheside: Yes. Essentially the NHMRC review concluded that there’s no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse effects on humans, but they did acknowledge that much of the available evidence is inconsistent and poor quality. So there really is genuine uncertainty in this area.

And that was the impetus for the targeted call for research that we responded to. Putting our team together, putting in a grant application that went through the peer review system in Australia, which is about a 12-month process, and we were lucky enough to get awarded that funding and so we’re doing that project.

So yes, as scientists, we think there are genuine unanswered questions in this area that need to be addressed and that’s really what we’re doing now.

David Bevan: Well, good luck.

Dr Kristy Hansen: Sorry. May I just comment on the future, and if we do in fact find there’s a problem. There are a lot of engineering methods, which can be employed to improve the problem. It’s just that they may be costly, that’s the only thing. One thing, which has attracted a lot of attention particularly in the UK at the moment is on changing the orientation of the blades as they go around, because what happens is when the blade gets to the top, sometimes it can stall, and that stall actually causes the thumping.

David Bevan: Ah.

Dr Kristy Hansen: So if they can change the orientation of the blades, they can reduce the likelihood of that happening. And then, they can reduce this amplitude modulation or the changing in loudness, which is happening. So that’s one thing.

David Bevan: But that’s gonna certainly add to the cost of a wind turbine.

Dr Kristy Hansen: Yes. But as technology becomes older and older it becomes cheaper and cheaper. So eventually perhaps it will just be a standard design of a wind turbine.

David Bevan: Yeah. Dr Kristy Hansen, I hope that we can speak to you again. And also, Professor Peter Catcheside, really appreciate your time.

Prof Peter Catcheside: Pleasure.

Dr Kristy Hansen: Thank you very much.

Prof Peter Catcheside: Thank you.

David Bevan: Thank you. Both based at Flinders University.

ABC 891

About stopthesethings

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


  1. I am one of many people badly affected by wind turbines. My house and place of work is high up on a hill surrounded from east/south east to north by 3 wind farms all with large, up to 147 meter high turbines with a total of 184 split 96: 60; 28, the latter 2 with plans to double in size. All are operated by Scottish Power Renewables. All are within about 7km, the nearest being 3km away. I suffer mainly from the very low frequency thumping which, because of the almost 360 degree surround continues at some level almost 24/7. As I own some woodland to the south of the house, I don’t have the grandstand view of the turbines that some people have, but I always know the level of ‘noise’ because I get sharp pains in my ears which intensify when the level increases – at which point I get in my car and go somewhere out of turbine range to catch up on sleep. As a musician and music publisher I often find that it is impossible to work due to poor concentration from lack of sleep. It would seem that SPR have acquired a government given right to pursue their business at the expense of my livelihood and quality of life. What happened to democracy?

  2. I still can’t figure out why the observations and assessment of Dr. William Hallstein at Falmouth, Mass. haven’t been taken seriously, especially where clusters of turbines surround homes and reports of harm have clearly been delivered to all who are responsible:
    “1. The human nervous system is the most sensitive instrument available to date for evaluating the impact of the Falmouth wind turbines on residents who live close to them. The ONLY experts in the discussion are the people who are sensing the sound, vibrations, pressure waves, etc emitted by the turbines. There is no one more “expert” than these people. No so called expert has either equipment nor information more accurate and sensitive than the affected residents’ nervous systems. NO instruments more sensitive than people have been invented! Others who claim to be experts are peddling smoke and mirrors in an effort to invalidate and discredit the affected residents.:”
    While I’m not suggesting that this study is designed to invalidate people being harmed, why are people unwilling to respect those who are honestly and sincerely reporting the frightening physical and psychological episodes they’re experiencing as a result of turbines that were sited too close to their homes?
    The issue of respect and compassion is key to the solution.
    Why are so many people willing to let the harm continue?
    Yes, do as many studies as you want, but turn the turbines off now. This is inhumane!

  3. In relation to the 5 year study, I have been personally involved in taking sound recordings of my own, with my own meter, which can be collected in 5 minutes and assessed in 5 minutes. My observations confirm why Spain now use transmission type towers being open web type. Clearly the wind industry knows the compression of air and the resultant impact when the blades passes the tower. My investigation clearly shows that the compression of air, usually demonstrated with a swooshing sound that is heard, the results of air compression creates a high frequency sound pulse lasting approximately 1/20 of a second, increasing the sound pressure level in the order of 20-30 dB in the frequency range any where between 1000hz and 16000hz.

    The problem with this effect is that it induces a startle effect, as in activating a fright response. This startle relex stiffens the muscles up the back of the neck and also creates a sympathetic nervous system response. Similar symptoms to whiplash and in some cases concussion symptoms are experienced. This response is a means to protect a person from harm, hence the reason why people leave there homes.

    Evidence of the high frequency spikes were presented and tabled at the LAL LAL wind farm hearing in 2016. These spikes were recorded out to 7kms away from the operating turbines. The reason that it is not known is that there has been requests for deviation from the IEC standard by manufactures when turbines are being tested.

    It is one thing to measure inside the house, but unless done in regards to assessing resonating sound inside, this is important. The recent loss of horses in a large ship may well have been because of resonating sound in a low frequency pattern inside of the hull. Most likely because the horses may have been too close to the side wall. If this was the case the horses would also have been impacted, possibly by motion sickness as well.

    It is important for the sound be considered out in the open, like being in line with two operating turbines. Our issues were not all related in the house or just outside of the house, it was out mostly in open paddocks when moving through the line of turbines at distances of 7kms or more. This does not get considered in the permit. This point was made in relation to TV reception. We lost TV reception before we became affected phycially. ABC was affected and also the local WINTV station reception was lost at our former house at Waubra. When we complained we we told to put up a bigger TV antenna. It appears that ACCIONA sacked the person who done the pre-TV reception and investigated the issue themselves. Just like they did with the noise investigation, it appears while there is no evidence there is no complaint resolution, only close the complaint because there is no evidence.

    ACCIONA, Local Council or the Planning department have done nothing to investigate our complaint other than ignore it.

    Noel Dean

  4. Terry Conn says:

    Obviously (one more time on top of the thousands of requests already made) a moratorium on the building of wind turbines within a ten kilometre radius of a non host residence must be imposed until this study is completed – alternatively a genuine compensation scheme must be immediately implemented for all present and possible victims of sleep deprivation caused by wind turbines. Further, we all know the reality is people are suffering, have suffered and moved and as new turbines are built there will be new victims – ultimately the reasons must be established and wind turbines should be banned because they are a public health hazard regardless of the other myriad of reasons why they should not be built.

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