Government study: no turbines/health link

A DRAFT government report has found no evidence that wind farms cause health problems but hasn't closed the book on the issue entirely.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) yesterday released its long-awaited report, which found "no direct evidence" of wind turbines causing health problems reported by residents near wind farms such as Macarthur in the south-west.

But opponents and anti-wind groups are likely to disregard the study's findings, arguing the NHMRC has only reviewed old evidence and has provided no fresh research itself. The council reviewed seven studies from Australia, Canada, America, the Netherlands and Sweden.

In its findings the council said "the direct evidence showed no consistent association between wind farms and health effects but there was consistent evidence that proximity to wind farms is associated with annoyance and, less consistently, with sleep disturbance and poorer quality of life."

But the report added that any association alone was not solid proof and has called for continued research into the issue.

"Further high-quality research is needed particularly exploring relationships between noise at varying distances from wind farms and annoyance, sleep and quality of life to address the concerns that some people have about the possible effects of wind farms on human health," the report said.

Climate change groups such as Friends of the Earth were quick to leap on the findings, calling on the federal goverment to scrap its own planned study into wind energy and health.

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