Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Fanning fear: the wind farm nocebo effect
28 Nov 2012

Most wind farms around the world have no history of complaints, but the few that do have seen the local area targeted by external activists who spread panic. Simon Chapman reflects on the nonsense claims of anti-wind farm activists.

Later today, the Senate will release the report of a committee into a Private Senators' Bill examining the proposal that wind turbines should not be accredited if the sound emitted exceeds 10 decibels of the background noise at any time, measured within 22 metres of a house.

The Bill was proposed by Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan and independent Senator Nick Xenophon. Both have form in expressing opposition to wind farms. Like Don Quixote who tilted at windmills, Madigan previously claimed (PDF) he was fighting a "sinister" and "dangerous" industry and Xenophon believes turbines affect brain activity.

No one following the latest historical example of what is quite plainly technophobic Luddism has any doubt that the tabling will see a minority report that the proposed standard be adopted. The bill will be defeated on party lines, with the Greens supporting the Government. But it has provided a conduit for a Niagara of mostly boilerplate protest material from the tiny but highly organised opponent groups.

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Todays's expected report will contain the equivalent nonsense about wind farms. It will make interesting reading 10 years from now.

Simon Chapman is professor of public health at the Sydney University. He tweets @simonchapman6.

Senate Environment and Communciations Legislation Committee – Report
Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment (Excessive Noise from Wind Farms) Bill 2012