AGL Energy’s offer to take part in research into the impact of infrasound from wind farms on nearby residents was long overdue, a south-west anti-wind farm campaigner says.
Southern Grampians Landscape Guardians president Keith Staff said AGL’s offer indicated that wind energy companies might no longer be “in denial” that infrasound (low-frequency sound) from wind turbines might cause problems for some people.
AGL’s group operations executive general manager Doug Jackson made the offer under questioning from Senator David Leyonhjelm at last week’s hearings in Canberra of the Senate inquiry into wind turbines.
Mr Jackson said AGL would be interested in doing noise research on its wind farms that was similar to the research done by acoustical consultant Steven Cooper on the Cape Bridgewater wind farms.
AGL operates wind farms at Macarthur and Oaklands Hill, east of Dunkeld. Mr Cooper’s research showed a link between a noise signature from the Cape Bridgewater wind farms and uncomfortable sensations felt by nearby residents, including headaches and pressure in the head, ears and chest.
However, it did not establish a cause for the reported sensations.
Mr Jackson told the Senate inquiry that “AGL absolutely wants to participate in ongoing research, whether it is Steven Cooper’s or other research”. “It needs to be sanctioned and accredited and met through rigorous scientific approach (sic),” Mr Jackson said.
He had earlier told the inquiry that “the available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low-frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity.”
In another submission to the Senate inquiry, AGL also denied it acted inappropriately by inviting medical centres in the Western District to direct any patients complaining of “wind turbine syndrome” to an AGL’s website.
AGL economic policy and sustainability chief Tim Nelson said its invitation to Western District medical centres in 2012 was never intended to restrict community members or health professionals from raising any health concerns with doctors, government agencies or the general public. Mr Nelson said it respected the independent role of doctors to provide medical advice in the best interests of their patients.
Mr Nelson gave the response to the Senate inquiry this month after earlier submissions to the inquiry had complained about AGL’s actions.
Among those who raised concerns was Jan Hetherington of Gerrigerrup, east of Macarthur, who said she believed it was unlawful to interfere with the confidential relationship between patients and their doctors.