Wind Turbine Time-Out: WHO’s Health Hazard Warning Prompts Demand for Immediate Wind Farm Moratorium

Connie Bonaros: fighting for South Australian lives and livelihoods.

 

The wind industry is what it is thanks to naïve, gullible and pliant politicians. But not every MP drank the Kool-Aid. One who didn’t is SA Best Member of the Legislative Council, Connie Bonaros.

South Australia is the place that set and met its very own ludicrous 50% Renewable Energy Target. For that it suffers the highest retail power prices in the world, mass load shedding and blackouts. This summer guarantees repeat performances of both, every time the sun sets and/or calm weather sets in. Portable generators will be the must have item come December.

Then there’s the destruction wreaked in South Australia’s rural communities, at places like Waterloo, Mt Bryan, Hallett and Jamestown.

Clearly concerned about her constituents, Connie use the World Health Organization’s new noise Guidelines (which declare wind turbine noise a serious health risk) as a pretty solid platform to call for a total moratorium on new wind farms.

Wind farm moratorium
SA Parliament
Connie Bonaros
24 October 2018

Mr President, I rise to speak to the motion in my name on the matter of a moratorium on wind farm developments in South Australia.

When the world’s pre-eminent health authority – the World Health Organisation – airs a warning, the world should rightly heed that advice.

The renowned Geneva-based organisation has recently released a report that found wind power turbines have the potential to cause serious health problems – including hearing loss, tinnitus, high blood pressure and even heart problems – to people exposed to excessive noise levels they emit.

The WHO provided these specific noise recommendations to protect the community.

In new guidelines the WHO developed for the European Union – but which it stressed are relevant globally – it recommends that exposure to wind turbines should not exceed 45 decibels during daytime operation.

On the presumption a wind farm is permitted to operate throughout an entire 24-hour period of a day, the WHO guideline for noise limits at night becomes 35 dB(A) as a measured level.

This level is lower than the 35 dB(A) or background + 5 dB whichever is GREATER, provided in windfarm noise guidelines of South Australia’s EPA.

Soft radio music, by comparison, has 50 decibels, WHO said.

Mr President, we need to ensure that the implications of the WHO report are now taken into account in our own windfarm noise guidelines to prevent serious adverse health impacts on rural residents living near windfarms in South Australia – noting background noise, atmospheric and house construction conditions are quite different in Australia, compared to much of Europe, and that as a result even lower noise levels may be required.

Cause for concern indeed.

But it gets even more worrying.

An independent report ordered by the Supreme Court of Victoria found that noise from the Bald Hills wind farm in Victoria is having an adverse impact on the comfort and wellbeing of residents living out to 2.4km on surrounding properties, even when the wind turbines were compliant with their planning permit, and were operating in noise reduced mode.

A class-action lawsuit is now being planned by local residents against the South Gippsland (pronounced Gipps-Land) Council, the Victorian government and the wind farm operator following the report.

But Mr President, the noise pollution wind farms cause is only part of a greater problem.

Wind farms are increasing in size – in terms of both the capacity of energy generated and the size of the wind turbines.

A wind farm being proposed by French company, Neoen (pronounced Nee-O-En), at the gateway of our pristine Flinders Ranges, near Crystal Brook, in South Australia’s mid north, is just one example.

Currently the subject of a State Commission Assessment Panel for approval, each of the project’s 26 wind turbines will stand 240 metres high – the highest ever built in the state and double that of many of the existing windfarm turbines in SA.

Each turbine will have an output of just under 5MW – again around double that of most existing windfarm developments.  By way of comparison, the Bald Hills wind turbines are only 2.05 MW.

Neoen’s proposed wind farm is situated only three kilometres from the Crystal Brook township and a lot closer to nearby rural living properties – an issue that has concerned local residents, many of whom have contacted SA-BEST.

Current laws permit a wind farm to be built one kilometre from a property without the owner’s consent and two kilometres from a town.

In Opposition, the Liberals had a longstanding policy to better protect residents by banning new wind turbines from being built closer than two kilometres from an existing dwelling without the homeowner’s consent and five kilometres from any town or settlement.

Mr President, the revelations by the influential World Health Organisation (WHO) that wind farms have the potential to cause significant health dangers is damning.

The new guidelines by the universally-respected WHO should send a shiver through us all – especially those who live close to wind farms.

The newly-released WHO guidelines highlight the fact our state’s own noise guidelines – which are already complex to decipher – are also grossly inadequate.  I  note that the SA Wind Farm Noise guidelines exclude noise characteristics specifically identified by the WHO as of concern, including low frequency noise and amplitude modulation.

It’s no secret wind farms are getting increasingly bigger in physical size and greater in output capacity.

In light of the WHO report and the sheer magnitude of the wind farm being proposed by Neoen, SA-BEST implores the Marshall Government to take decisive and immediate action.

At the very least, we call on it to place an urgent moratorium on approval or construction of any new windfarms until an independent, full and thorough review is undertaken, and an updated, evidence based, planning and noise pollution compliance regime is implemented that is transparent, effective in protecting health, and relevant for much larger, more powerful wind turbines.

We must ensure both currently operating and future wind farms in South Australia are not allowed to emit noise that causes sleep disturbance or otherwise harms human health..

We must also review all legislation surrounding wind farm developments to ensure that SA residents are adequately protected from harm over the lifetime of each project, and that SA taxpayers will not foot the bill in future for noise nuisance litigation because inadequate planning and noise pollution regulations have failed to protect SA residents from harm.

SA-BEST is also concerned that windfarm proposals are starting to encroach on some of our state’s most scenic landscapes, including the Flinders Ranges, Barossa and Clare Valleys.

If Neoen’s project is given approval to be construct on the cusp of the world-famed Flinders Ranges, an ugly and irreversible precedent will have been set.

At present, development assessment for windfarms assumes – but completely discounts – their substantial visual impact on the landscape.

While windfarms are ‘not explicitly’ envisaged in designated landscape protection zones, much stronger protection is needed to make it clear to developers that our iconic landscapes are off limits.

The most recent State of the Environment report (2013) by the South Australian EPA reported an increase in noise complaints from existing wind farms, yet there has been no change to monitoring and compliance requirements, even though turbines are getting bigger and more powerful.

Again, I use Neoen’s Development Application for the Crystal Brook Energy Park – which includes 26 turbines, each with an output of close to 5MW – as an example.

The company has concluded it would be compliant with the current EPA windfarm noise guidelines, despite a number of disturbing issues raised by residents, including that:

  • The company’s background noise measurements were based on only five sites, two of which are landholders receiving payments for hosting turbines
  • The three closest non-associated residences did not have background noise monitoring undertaken by Neoen.
  • The company’s baseline noise monitoring was conducted in the middle of the grain harvesting period, when there is a higher than usual background noise level.
  • There is no consideration of amplitude modulation or separation of night-time noise levels, which is a real concern for assessing the impact on sleep.
  • The type of turbine is unknown. The assessed assumed a GE 4.8-158 WTG but identified the final WTG selection will occur during the design phase.
  • Spacing between many turbines is also much closer than recommended by the manufacturer, which will further increase the level of noise and turbulence.

The EPA’s State of the Environment (2013) report also notes that noise above safe levels leads to a number of known health impacts such as stress, high blood pressure, loss of sleep, inability to concentrate and loss of productivity.

That the WHO has now explicitly identified windfarm noise as a source of such health impacts for residents is of significant concern.

Furthermore, independent acoustic engineers and researchers have identified noise and infrasound issues up to 15km from turbines – depending on the local topography.

All this information – together with the recent independent report ordered by the Supreme Court regarding the noise impact of the Bald Hills wind farm in Victoria – paints an emerging and concerning story.

It’s worth noting that a State Commission Assessment Panel assessment into the Neoen wind farm project near Crystal Brook received more than 250 submissions, with the vast majority opposing the development.

This includes the Local Council, who resolved to actively oppose the project.

Only around 15 submissions were in favour of its development.

The majority of these were from people living close to the proposed site who will receive significant financial gain for having wind turbines built on their properties.

One landholder does not live in the local area and one has made public comment as to his intent to relocate once the turbines are constructed.

The Port Pirie Regional Development Plan has an Objective to “protect the community health and amenity from adverse impacts of development” and specifically for wind farms to avoid or minimise excessive noise impacts on nearby property owners/occupiers, road uses and wildlife.

The Neoen wind farm assessment has not identified any adverse noise or health impacts for people or wildlife.

Accordingly, without such an assessment, the Neoen Application cannot be approved while the Port Pirie Reginal Council Development Plan has not been addressed.

In view of the WHO report – specifically identifying wind turbine can create a health impact – an urgent moratorium is required to protect the state and South Australian taxpayers from class actions against the state if the Neoen project is approved.

On 13 April 2018, the Minister for Environment, the Hon David Speirs, stated on ABC Radio Adelaide that he hoped to get a review of the windfarm noise guidelines moving.

Given more than six months has passed since the Minister made those comments, SA-BEST is keen to be updated by the Minister on where that review currently is.

We also seek the government’s assurances that this review is undertaken with full transparency with input from the community and independent acousticians – and improved safeguards for nearby residents are in place – before any new wind turbines are approved or constructed.

Until these issues are resolved, the State Government must place an urgent moratorium on approval or construction of any new windfarms.

In closing I make the point – we would never build a wind farm on Mount Lofty, so why are we even considering one on the doorstep of our internationally-renowned Flinders Ranges and other treasured areas of the state.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. South Australia is the place that set and met its very own ludicrous 50% Renewable Energy Target.

    I understood the first paragraph of this posting of a while ago
    https://stopthesethings.com/2015/07/27/adam-creighton-labors-ludicrous-wind-power-policy-to-squander-more-than-100-billion
    to say it would be impossible to actually achieve, so how has this happened? Smoke and mirrors? Lies, damned lies and statistics?

  2. Whilst I welcome the recent health warning issued by the WHO, I am still very concerned that the WHO still recommend noise guidelines based on dB(A) sound pressure readings which filter out the bulk of the low frequency (LFN) and infrasound (ILFN) noise pollution emissions.

    One of the consequences of constructing larger and larger wind powered subsidy generators is even a larger proportion of the noise pollution emissions are in the LFN and ILFN spectrum.

    Therefore the use of dB(A) to assess noise pollution emissions from even larger wind turbines will probably result in the new noise guidelines – proposed by the WHO – still being ineffective at protecting wind farm neighbours from harm inflicted by increased noise pollution emissions from the larger wind turbines.

    Let battle commence against the morally destitute windustry and the politicians who have knowingly been destroying the lives of wind farm neighbours for years with their implements of torture.

  3. Walls of Jerusalem Dream says:

    ” To this day, the …industry and the …government withhold key information, fudge definitions…, and distort statistics to prevent the truth…becoming publicly known, diverting debate into the dullness of disputed definitions, and clashing numbers. It’s a tactic of semantic confusion that’s worked well for the tobacco and oil industries” Richard Flanagan, ‘Gunns : The Tragedy of Tasmania, April 2007’

    The wind-chipping industry use the same tactics as used by the wood-chipping industry in Tasmania. The main difference is that it is the heart and sole of rural folk, not old growth forests, that is being ripped out, and the Greens are cheering it on.

    Thank you Connie Bonaros for shining a light on this dark stain of greed and corruption within Australian polity and ‘green’ commerce.

    • Walls of Jerusalem Dream says:

      To quote from Flanagan again, Booker prize winner and Green icon, speculating on possible findings of a demanded-for Royal Commission into Tasmanian woodchipping and issues of criminality, in his lauded Gunns essay:

      ‘It may even find at heart something more disturbing: that the boundary between what is illegal and what is unethical has now vanished in Australia, and that the spectre that now haunts Australia is not that of an omnipotent state but of a ruthless corporation, beholden to nothing but its own bottom line, inhibited by nobody, liberated by the failure of contemporary politics,’

      One suspects Flanagan never thought that the sentiment he expressed could ever apply to his own brand of politics and their favoured ‘green’ industrial corporations. But then again, the major parties are not the only ones taking bribes (sorry, donations) from large corporates, with Vestas reputed to have bankrolled the Greens to the tune of a million dollars to fund their political war chest, and shut down the democratic process which was exposing the cover-ups of the wind industry’s noise pollution impacts on human health and well-being.

      So to Connie Bonaros again, keep courageously telling the truth about this great lie of the wind industry. And prove that contemporary politics is not failing!

      ps; there is no finer example of a corporate failure of honesty and ethics in the submissions of French mulitinational Neoen to the Government of South Australia regarding their Crystal Brook proposal. But then again, the French sank the Rainbow Warrior killing an on-board photographer in order to stifle protest, so we should not be so surprised?

  4. Catherine says:

    Thank goodness for Connie Bonaros to speak out about the WHO noise statement, and the lies of this industry. At last someone is listening and beginning to take action!

  5. Green no longer says:

    How refreshing to hear a politician speak the truth to the wind industry and its political cheer squads!!

    Other politicians will ignore the WHO Noise recommendations at their peril-they can no longer claim ignorance of the issues and the inevitable damage to their constituents from wind factory side effects.

    The wind cult and its ‘industry’ does not care for the rural people and their homes whose lives are destroyed by wind turbine noise impacts, and even less for ‘the planet’ and its birds and bats that are sliced and diced or that perish via barotrauma to their lungs.

    Like tobacco, thalidomide and asbestos, the truth about this scheming and malicious industry is coming out and those who seek to avoid it will be held to account.

    3 Cheers and more for Connie Bonaros- she has our vote and deepest respect for speaking the truth! Let us hope the major political parties are taking note…

  6. Uncle Fester says:

    “Spacing between many turbines is also much closer than recommended by the manufacturer, which will further increase the level of noise and turbulence.”

    Yet another desperate attempt from a proponent to cram as many turbines into the limited area afforded by hosts. Just like the (thankfully defunct) Jupiter fiasco, no concern is taken as to the turbulence created by a turbine, and the effects it has upon turbines in it’s lee. NSW best practice (but neither followed or enforced) as per the NSW Wind Energy Handbook mandates that turbines be placed no closer than 5 Rotor Diamaters apart abrest of the prevailing wind, and 8D apart when downwind from eachother, such that inter turbine turbuence does not create increased (and unpredicted) noise, stress and harmonics between rotors.

    As usual, the community (and in this case the township of Crystal Brook) will be ignored by the government and it’s unhealthy links with the wind industry. Once there has been a royal commission, and the respective planning departments of all states have been exposed for what they are will the tide turn. In the interim, the rest of the world continues realise that Wind Turbines will be this centuries version of the 20th century Big Tobacco, asbestos, thalydomide or PFAS.

    I grew up in Port Pirie, and and had reltives in Burra. Seeing what this industry has done to the countryside between these towns is gut wrenching. I cut my anti-wind industry teeth in the fight against Jupiter. I continue the fight as what I have seen is an unhealthy relationship between this industy and all levels of government, state, territory and federal.

    • Uncle Fester says:

      As an after-thought, I have attached one of my submissions to the EIS for Jupiter. Many of these points are valid for any wind farm. Fell free to use.

      WHO IS JANE OR JOHN DOE?
      Unfortunately, I am but one person, who has attempted to sift through several thousand pages of the Jupiter EIS and its annexes. I have, however done this with a single focus, and with one question in mind that I have not yet found an answer to from within this proposal’s EIS:
      Who, as either an individual or an organisation has accepted ownership of the design of the Jupiter wind farm turbine placement?
      Analysis of the proposed turbine placement does not appear to share any conformity with similar projects within the local area. All other wind farms have a common design trait of placing turbines in lines, abreast of the prevailing wind. Jupiter does not follow this methodology. In fact, it defies it. The Jupiter proposal has turbines apparently randomly placed within the boundaries of what little land that could be coerced into association. This placement demonstrates desperation, not sound engineering practice.
      Construction of a building requires an architect to put their name, expertise and credibility on its design. Similarly, an engineer must also validate the integrity of the foundations and construction techniques. A builder then stakes his license on the fact that he will faithfully erect the structure in accordance with the plan along with any caveats applied to ensure that it is sound and true to the principles and integrity of its design. The design is cornerstone to the success of the project.
      Why are these basic construction principles apparently not a requirement of this $300M proposal?
      Who has designed this apparently visionary, bold and non-industry conforming layout? Nowhere in the EIS has any individual or organisation taken ownership of this design. As a result, who can be called upon to answer under what principles of engineering were any or all of the design decisions made? What were their formal qualifications and experience, and what relevance are those qualifications and experience to the design as proposed? What best practice methodology has been incorporated into the design? Why does this design appear to disregard other published wind farm guidelines, such as the NSW Wind Energy Handbook, where in order to adequately mitigate inter-turbine turbulence and its undesirable affects upon turbines, it is mandated that turbines be placed 5 rotor diameters apart across the prevailing wind, and 8 rotor diameters down-wind from each other?
      Does the Department of Planning and Environment require that the most fundamental and crucial aspect of this proposal, that being the turbine layout be subject to any kind of peer review? If not, under what possible rationale is this neglected? Does such a review mechanism even exist? At the absolute minimum, a peer review of the design would result in at least one organisation or individual accepting professional responsibility for the design against their credibility and future in this industry.
      IS THIS PROPOSED TURBINE LAYOUT IN FACT EVEN SUPPORTABLE AT ALL?
      Surely the Department of Planning and Environment does not accept that compliance testing would be an appropriate the time to discover that fundamental flaws render the entire project inoperable? Who is accepting this $300m risk other than the residents that are stuck with the result? If it is found to be unfit for purpose by design, how is the community protected? Is it simply left to rot as has happened in other countries such as the United States, or will there be a binding condition that it be removed immediately and the ground returned to its original condition??
      It beggars belief that a $300M State Significant Project can be designed around principles akin to throwing darts at a map of the proposed area. As cheap (and nasty) as this option may be, it is totally unacceptable for the Department to recommend this proposal proceed without any entity being prepared to accept formal ownership of its design and the subsequent risk of that design.

      Cheers, Fester.

  7. Noel Dean says:

    Bring on a moratorium,the sooner the better. On Australia wide radio a few weeks ago, the NWFC Mr Dyer was asked questions from people who had made complaints in relation to noise at wind farms. Dyer gave no proper response.

    Mr Dyer implied wind farms were compliant without referencing sound pressure levels as being the method used. He goes on to say there is a monitoring program when the monitoring program does not measure noise levels. It only assessed the quietest 10 per cent of the measured period, without identifying the sound pressure level at a given time so as a complaint investigation could occur.

    When Mr Dyer was asked had he sleep at a wind farm he did not answer the question. He said there was a wind farm at Denmark Western Australia and he slept at Denmark, which was about 7 to 8 kms from the turbines. And the ocean was closer to Denmark than the wind farm, which consisted of two very small turbines which going by photos appeared to be more than 8 rotor dia between the 2 turbines, which is required to minimise noise and no houses nearby. The turbine blades were about 18 to 20 mt long as apposed to 60 to 70 mts, as in up to 135/140m diameter rotor. The capacity of the turbines were 800kw each compared to the ones now being proposed to be 3.8 to 5.0 MW.

    Mr Dyer has said that 50 percent of complaints about operating wind turbines were not related to noise. The reason for that is the developer tells Mr Dyer the wind farm is complying to its permit and there is no noise problems, by referencing a fake location, and by telling the wind farm commission the assessment can be done at a nearby location of more than 1 km away from dwelling instead of 10 mt. A wind farm operator is not going to let a lie get in the way of a good income is it?

    There should be a moritorium because noise does not get measured because of a conspiracy between planning ministers and developers, who prevent evidence being made available. Either because proper measurement and assessment was not done or was done but suppressed by the ministers involved. The Pyrenees council was aware of this since early 2011, when it presented evidence to the senate inquiry March 2011.

    This evidence must be considered in court process and not hidden from public scrutiny. An ordinary person does not read all submissions and nor do all panel members. In a panel hearing the process is based on bluff not evidence. A moritorium is needed to change this culture and make sure measurement and assessment are done to the satisfaction of all parties. Not just the developer. It is a pity the Wind Farm Commissioner did not understand the wording in his terms of reference. If he had it would be sorted by now. A commissioner’s job is a man’s job?

    Noel Dean

  8. Connie is channeling the blacksmith from Ballarat, former Senator John Madigan. And good on her!

  9. Ok, what happened? Was the motion defended by the SA government – and if so what did they say? Did David Spiers – the Minister for the Environment – say anything about his review of windfarm noise guidelines? Did the members divide on party lines and vote it down?

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