Back to All News

Wind Farms report

Speeches in Parliament
Rachel Siewert 23 Jun 2011

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (13:53):  I would like to very quickly make a few remarks, bearing in mind that this was a very controversial inquiry, and I thank the senators who participated and the secretariat for the work they have put into this committee.

They received an extensive number of submissions and they did an absolutely wonderful job in helping us through his process. And of course I would like to thank the witnesses and people who made submissions. Because of the time, I will just go through the recommendations that we made. The first recommendation is:

The Committee considers that the noise standards adopted by the states and territories for the planning and operation of rural wind farms should include appropriate measures to calculate the impact of low frequency noise and vibrations indoors at impacted dwellings.

Our second recommendation is: 
The Committee recommends that the responsible authorities should ensure that complaints are dealt with expeditiously and that the complaints processes should involve an independent arbitrator. State and local government agencies responsible for ensuring compliance with planning permissions should be adequately resourced for this activity.

We also recommend that:
… further consideration be given to the development of policy on separation criteria between residences and wind farm facilities.

We also recommend, at this is an important one:
… that the Commonwealth Government initiate as a matter of priority thorough, adequately resourced epidemiological and laboratory studies of the possible effects of wind farms on human health. This research must engage across industry and community, and include an advisory process representing the range of interests and concerns.

This is particularly important. We have found that there have been adverse health effects found in some people near wind farms. However—and this is a very, very important 'however'—we have not found that that is necessarily associated with noise or vibration. That is particularly important, because I do not want people running around saying that we have found that this is associated with some of the claims that are being made. We are saying that there is not enough information but that with people who are feeling possible adverse health effects it could be related to other factors. We had a lot of evidence around stress associated with location of wind farms. I think that is a particularly important point: we found that there is not enough evidence to show that association.

We believe and recommend that the NHMRC review of research should continue, with regular publication, and that the National Acoustics Laboratories conduct a study and assessment of noise impacts of wind farms, including the impacts of infrasound. That is a particularly important point. And we recommend that the draft National Wind Farm Development Guidelines be redrafted to include discussion of any adverse health effects and comments made by NHMRC regarding the revision of its 2010 public statement. 

I know that Senator Fielding will want to make a quick few comments, and I also thank him very much for the way that he has been involved in this committee. 

Back to All News