Australian Senate inquiry into excessive noise from wind farms

A bill was introduced to Australian Parliament by three Senators in June 2012 that aimed to strip wind farms that create “excessive noise” of the right to generate Renewable Energy Certificates. The bill sought to change the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 by placing a noise condition on the accreditation of a wind farm by the Australian Clean Energy Regulator.

Following an inquiry into the bill involving public submissions and a public hearing, the responsible Senate committee tabled its final report on 28 November. The final report was largely good news for the Australian wind industry, as it recommended that the bill not be adopted, and also found that “no evidence was provided that would suggest that infrasound is present at harmful levels” from wind farms.

The Senate committee found that the available evidence clearly showed that infrasound from wind farms does not cause health issues. The final report stated:

“…while it is possible that the human body may detect infrasound in several ways, there is no evidence to suggest that inaudible infrasound (either from wind turbines or other sources) is creating health problems. In contrast, there is an established literature confirming the existence of psychogenic, or “nocebo”, effects in general, and at least one study suggesting they may be responsible for symptoms in some wind turbine cases.”

The Clean Energy Council sent a submission to the inquiry that stated the existing noise guidelines in Australia are effective. The submission also said that the noise limits proposed by the bill were arbitrary and unscientific, and that state governments (rather than local or federal governments) are best placed to regulate noise as part of the whole planning regime.

Click here for more information on the inquiry.