SIX Cape Bridgewater residents involved in groundbreaking research on side-effects of wind farm infrasound have called for the state government to declare the area a health hazard.
They have also called on the federal government to fund new studies on long-term health implications of living near wind farms, of which many are scattered across the south-west.
However, the Australian Wind Alliance, which represents companies associated with the renewable energy industry, has disputed the study findings and described them as speculative.
Acoustic engineer Steven Cooper was commissioned by Pacific Hydro to determine if wind conditions or sound levels caused disturbances identified by residents.
His preliminary findings from eight weeks of monitoring data and residents’ diaries claim to have identified a trend between acoustics produced by turbine blades while generating electricity and sensations reported by the residents.
He also claims to have identified a “signature sound” from turbines below the level of normal hearing which he said should be the basis for medical research.
Alleged health side-effects have been debated for decades. Some residents living nearby the huge towers and turbines have long complained of effects including headaches, nausea, pressures in their head, ears and chest, ringing ears and racing heart.
The Cape Bridgewater residents issued a joint statement yesterday saying the Cooper report also demonstrated that current noise pollution guidelines were useless. “Are we just third-class citizens whose fate it is to become collateral damage to these unsafe machines?” they asked.
“We expect Pacific Hydro will rectify the problems at Cape Bridgewater, address proper compensation for those who have been harmed and join, indeed lead, the drive for reform of regulation of wind power facilities.”
Mr Cooper will present his report to a public meeting at Portland Golf Club on February 16. The wind alliance said the report was based on a narrow band of information and did not account for the sensations described by residents when the turbines were not operating.
“Hundreds of thousands of people live comfortably in close vicinity of wind farms across the world — this report can’t change this,” the alliance said.