Who are you calling a waste of taxpayers’ money?

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Richard Heap
July 2, 2018
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This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
Who are you calling a waste of taxpayers’ money?

They’re unreliable. They don’t generate anywhere close to what they promised. They are a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.

No doubt, Australia’s former prime minister Tony Abbott would say that is true about wind turbines. And yet it also perfectly sums up the situation with the anti-wind body that he set up in 2015, the Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines. After three years and almost A$500,000 ($380,000) we’ve seen little in the way of useful progress.

Abbott’s official reason for setting up the body was to deal with complaints about the noise generated by wind farms, and to advise on the impact that wind turbines have on people’s health. Unofficially, it was to give him the evidence he wanted to destroy the wind industry in Australia and wipe out all investment in new wind developments.

Sounds histrionic, right? Well, it’s not. Abbott has repeatedly said that wind farms are “visually awful”, and he backed up his hostility to wind by leading cuts to Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. He told one interviewer that his goal was to “R-E-D-U-C-E the number of these things that we are going to get in the future”, and added that: “Now I would frankly have liked to have reduced the number a lot more.”

So that’s clear – and yet, despite all of the noise when the committee was set up, it hasn’t delivered anything in the way of useful research over the last few years. The committee’s second annual report in April showed that it had failed to have any of its research accepted by peer-reviewed journals; hadn’t held any face-to-face meetings in the last year; and had only managed to run seven meetings by video conference.

That isn’t to say that the committee hasn’t been trying to stack up the link between wind farm noise and damage to people’s health. It has produced a paper proposing a limit on the sound that could be produced by wind farms in Australia. It just hasn’t been able to get it published in a peer-reviewed journal: the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America has rejected it twice; and the Journal of Sound & Vibration once.

In short, it hasn’t yet been able to prove that wind farms caused negative impacts to people’s health, or even to advise on reliable ways to measure the noise produced by wind farms. It still has six months until it has to formally report to the Australian government – its deadline is December 2018 – and we’re interested to see if it can.

Genuinely, if there is a link between wind turbine noise and people’s health, we want to hear about it. So far, the main evidence shows that ‘wind turbine syndrome’ – in other words, the alleged negative physical impacts of wind farms – mainly affects the people who don’t like the wind farm to begin with. But if there is a link that shows that wind farms damage people’s health then the wind industry should adapt to that.

In the meantime, though, the wind sector should be able to proceed on the basis of established scientific evidence that most of the negative impacts are psychological.

This is an important discussion in Australia because the hostility to wind has carried on under Abbott’s successor, Malcom Turnbull, who wrongly blamed wind farms for causing blackouts in South Australia that were really caused by storms. It’s a story we’ve written about in previous Wind Watch columns. Check it out here.

And yet, there is good news for the Australian wind industry despite the hostility that has carried on from the Abbott era. At the end of last year, there were over 4.4GW of renewables projects being built in Australia; and $8.9bn of investment flowed into the renewable energy sector in Australia in 2017, according to Bloomberg. This includes an 800MW project in Queensland where Lacour won planning approval this month.

If the Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines proves that wind farms are harming the health of Australians then it will rightly affect how wind farms are planned and built.

But if it can’t then Australia’s ruling party should embrace wind – although, given its track record with evidence they don’t like, they’d probably rather put their fingers in their ears.

They’re unreliable. They don’t generate anywhere close to what they promised. They are a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.

No doubt, Australia’s former prime minister Tony Abbott would say that is true about wind turbines. And yet it also perfectly sums up the situation with the anti-wind body that he set up in 2015, the Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines. After three years and almost A$500,000 ($380,000) we’ve seen little in the way of useful progress.

Abbott’s official reason for setting up the body was to deal with complaints about the noise generated by wind farms, and to advise on the impact that wind turbines have on people’s health. Unofficially, it was to give him the evidence he wanted to destroy the wind industry in Australia and wipe out all investment in new wind developments.

Sounds histrionic, right? Well, it’s not. Abbott has repeatedly said that wind farms are “visually awful”, and he backed up his hostility to wind by leading cuts to Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. He told one interviewer that his goal was to “R-E-D-U-C-E the number of these things that we are going to get in the future”, and added that: “Now I would frankly have liked to have reduced the number a lot more.”

So that’s clear – and yet, despite all of the noise when the committee was set up, it hasn’t delivered anything in the way of useful research over the last few years. The committee’s second annual report in April showed that it had failed to have any of its research accepted by peer-reviewed journals; hadn’t held any face-to-face meetings in the last year; and had only managed to run seven meetings by video conference.

That isn’t to say that the committee hasn’t been trying to stack up the link between wind farm noise and damage to people’s health. It has produced a paper proposing a limit on the sound that could be produced by wind farms in Australia. It just hasn’t been able to get it published in a peer-reviewed journal: the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America has rejected it twice; and the Journal of Sound & Vibration once.

In short, it hasn’t yet been able to prove that wind farms caused negative impacts to people’s health, or even to advise on reliable ways to measure the noise produced by wind farms. It still has six months until it has to formally report to the Australian government – its deadline is December 2018 – and we’re interested to see if it can.

Genuinely, if there is a link between wind turbine noise and people’s health, we want to hear about it. So far, the main evidence shows that ‘wind turbine syndrome’ – in other words, the alleged negative physical impacts of wind farms – mainly affects the people who don’t like the wind farm to begin with. But if there is a link that shows that wind farms damage people’s health then the wind industry should adapt to that.

In the meantime, though, the wind sector should be able to proceed on the basis of established scientific evidence that most of the negative impacts are psychological.

This is an important discussion in Australia because the hostility to wind has carried on under Abbott’s successor, Malcom Turnbull, who wrongly blamed wind farms for causing blackouts in South Australia that were really caused by storms. It’s a story we’ve written about in previous Wind Watch columns. Check it out here.

And yet, there is good news for the Australian wind industry despite the hostility that has carried on from the Abbott era. At the end of last year, there were over 4.4GW of renewables projects being built in Australia; and $8.9bn of investment flowed into the renewable energy sector in Australia in 2017, according to Bloomberg. This includes an 800MW project in Queensland where Lacour won planning approval this month.

If the Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines proves that wind farms are harming the health of Australians then it will rightly affect how wind farms are planned and built.

But if it can’t then Australia’s ruling party should embrace wind – although, given its track record with evidence they don’t like, they’d probably rather put their fingers in their ears.

They’re unreliable. They don’t generate anywhere close to what they promised. They are a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.

No doubt, Australia’s former prime minister Tony Abbott would say that is true about wind turbines. And yet it also perfectly sums up the situation with the anti-wind body that he set up in 2015, the Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines. After three years and almost A$500,000 ($380,000) we’ve seen little in the way of useful progress.

Abbott’s official reason for setting up the body was to deal with complaints about the noise generated by wind farms, and to advise on the impact that wind turbines have on people’s health. Unofficially, it was to give him the evidence he wanted to destroy the wind industry in Australia and wipe out all investment in new wind developments.

Sounds histrionic, right? Well, it’s not. Abbott has repeatedly said that wind farms are “visually awful”, and he backed up his hostility to wind by leading cuts to Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. He told one interviewer that his goal was to “R-E-D-U-C-E the number of these things that we are going to get in the future”, and added that: “Now I would frankly have liked to have reduced the number a lot more.”

So that’s clear – and yet, despite all of the noise when the committee was set up, it hasn’t delivered anything in the way of useful research over the last few years. The committee’s second annual report in April showed that it had failed to have any of its research accepted by peer-reviewed journals; hadn’t held any face-to-face meetings in the last year; and had only managed to run seven meetings by video conference.

That isn’t to say that the committee hasn’t been trying to stack up the link between wind farm noise and damage to people’s health. It has produced a paper proposing a limit on the sound that could be produced by wind farms in Australia. It just hasn’t been able to get it published in a peer-reviewed journal: the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America has rejected it twice; and the Journal of Sound & Vibration once.

In short, it hasn’t yet been able to prove that wind farms caused negative impacts to people’s health, or even to advise on reliable ways to measure the noise produced by wind farms. It still has six months until it has to formally report to the Australian government – its deadline is December 2018 – and we’re interested to see if it can.

Genuinely, if there is a link between wind turbine noise and people’s health, we want to hear about it. So far, the main evidence shows that ‘wind turbine syndrome’ – in other words, the alleged negative physical impacts of wind farms – mainly affects the people who don’t like the wind farm to begin with. But if there is a link that shows that wind farms damage people’s health then the wind industry should adapt to that.

In the meantime, though, the wind sector should be able to proceed on the basis of established scientific evidence that most of the negative impacts are psychological.

This is an important discussion in Australia because the hostility to wind has carried on under Abbott’s successor, Malcom Turnbull, who wrongly blamed wind farms for causing blackouts in South Australia that were really caused by storms. It’s a story we’ve written about in previous Wind Watch columns. Check it out here.

And yet, there is good news for the Australian wind industry despite the hostility that has carried on from the Abbott era. At the end of last year, there were over 4.4GW of renewables projects being built in Australia; and $8.9bn of investment flowed into the renewable energy sector in Australia in 2017, according to Bloomberg. This includes an 800MW project in Queensland where Lacour won planning approval this month.

If the Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines proves that wind farms are harming the health of Australians then it will rightly affect how wind farms are planned and built.

But if it can’t then Australia’s ruling party should embrace wind – although, given its track record with evidence they don’t like, they’d probably rather put their fingers in their ears.

They’re unreliable. They don’t generate anywhere close to what they promised. They are a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.

No doubt, Australia’s former prime minister Tony Abbott would say that is true about wind turbines. And yet it also perfectly sums up the situation with the anti-wind body that he set up in 2015, the Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines. After three years and almost A$500,000 ($380,000) we’ve seen little in the way of useful progress.

Abbott’s official reason for setting up the body was to deal with complaints about the noise generated by wind farms, and to advise on the impact that wind turbines have on people’s health. Unofficially, it was to give him the evidence he wanted to destroy the wind industry in Australia and wipe out all investment in new wind developments.

Sounds histrionic, right? Well, it’s not. Abbott has repeatedly said that wind farms are “visually awful”, and he backed up his hostility to wind by leading cuts to Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. He told one interviewer that his goal was to “R-E-D-U-C-E the number of these things that we are going to get in the future”, and added that: “Now I would frankly have liked to have reduced the number a lot more.”

So that’s clear – and yet, despite all of the noise when the committee was set up, it hasn’t delivered anything in the way of useful research over the last few years. The committee’s second annual report in April showed that it had failed to have any of its research accepted by peer-reviewed journals; hadn’t held any face-to-face meetings in the last year; and had only managed to run seven meetings by video conference.

That isn’t to say that the committee hasn’t been trying to stack up the link between wind farm noise and damage to people’s health. It has produced a paper proposing a limit on the sound that could be produced by wind farms in Australia. It just hasn’t been able to get it published in a peer-reviewed journal: the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America has rejected it twice; and the Journal of Sound & Vibration once.

In short, it hasn’t yet been able to prove that wind farms caused negative impacts to people’s health, or even to advise on reliable ways to measure the noise produced by wind farms. It still has six months until it has to formally report to the Australian government – its deadline is December 2018 – and we’re interested to see if it can.

Genuinely, if there is a link between wind turbine noise and people’s health, we want to hear about it. So far, the main evidence shows that ‘wind turbine syndrome’ – in other words, the alleged negative physical impacts of wind farms – mainly affects the people who don’t like the wind farm to begin with. But if there is a link that shows that wind farms damage people’s health then the wind industry should adapt to that.

In the meantime, though, the wind sector should be able to proceed on the basis of established scientific evidence that most of the negative impacts are psychological.

This is an important discussion in Australia because the hostility to wind has carried on under Abbott’s successor, Malcom Turnbull, who wrongly blamed wind farms for causing blackouts in South Australia that were really caused by storms. It’s a story we’ve written about in previous Wind Watch columns. Check it out here.

And yet, there is good news for the Australian wind industry despite the hostility that has carried on from the Abbott era. At the end of last year, there were over 4.4GW of renewables projects being built in Australia; and $8.9bn of investment flowed into the renewable energy sector in Australia in 2017, according to Bloomberg. This includes an 800MW project in Queensland where Lacour won planning approval this month.

If the Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines proves that wind farms are harming the health of Australians then it will rightly affect how wind farms are planned and built.

But if it can’t then Australia’s ruling party should embrace wind – although, given its track record with evidence they don’t like, they’d probably rather put their fingers in their ears.

They’re unreliable. They don’t generate anywhere close to what they promised. They are a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.

No doubt, Australia’s former prime minister Tony Abbott would say that is true about wind turbines. And yet it also perfectly sums up the situation with the anti-wind body that he set up in 2015, the Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines. After three years and almost A$500,000 ($380,000) we’ve seen little in the way of useful progress.

Abbott’s official reason for setting up the body was to deal with complaints about the noise generated by wind farms, and to advise on the impact that wind turbines have on people’s health. Unofficially, it was to give him the evidence he wanted to destroy the wind industry in Australia and wipe out all investment in new wind developments.

Sounds histrionic, right? Well, it’s not. Abbott has repeatedly said that wind farms are “visually awful”, and he backed up his hostility to wind by leading cuts to Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. He told one interviewer that his goal was to “R-E-D-U-C-E the number of these things that we are going to get in the future”, and added that: “Now I would frankly have liked to have reduced the number a lot more.”

So that’s clear – and yet, despite all of the noise when the committee was set up, it hasn’t delivered anything in the way of useful research over the last few years. The committee’s second annual report in April showed that it had failed to have any of its research accepted by peer-reviewed journals; hadn’t held any face-to-face meetings in the last year; and had only managed to run seven meetings by video conference.

That isn’t to say that the committee hasn’t been trying to stack up the link between wind farm noise and damage to people’s health. It has produced a paper proposing a limit on the sound that could be produced by wind farms in Australia. It just hasn’t been able to get it published in a peer-reviewed journal: the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America has rejected it twice; and the Journal of Sound & Vibration once.

In short, it hasn’t yet been able to prove that wind farms caused negative impacts to people’s health, or even to advise on reliable ways to measure the noise produced by wind farms. It still has six months until it has to formally report to the Australian government – its deadline is December 2018 – and we’re interested to see if it can.

Genuinely, if there is a link between wind turbine noise and people’s health, we want to hear about it. So far, the main evidence shows that ‘wind turbine syndrome’ – in other words, the alleged negative physical impacts of wind farms – mainly affects the people who don’t like the wind farm to begin with. But if there is a link that shows that wind farms damage people’s health then the wind industry should adapt to that.

In the meantime, though, the wind sector should be able to proceed on the basis of established scientific evidence that most of the negative impacts are psychological.

This is an important discussion in Australia because the hostility to wind has carried on under Abbott’s successor, Malcom Turnbull, who wrongly blamed wind farms for causing blackouts in South Australia that were really caused by storms. It’s a story we’ve written about in previous Wind Watch columns. Check it out here.

And yet, there is good news for the Australian wind industry despite the hostility that has carried on from the Abbott era. At the end of last year, there were over 4.4GW of renewables projects being built in Australia; and $8.9bn of investment flowed into the renewable energy sector in Australia in 2017, according to Bloomberg. This includes an 800MW project in Queensland where Lacour won planning approval this month.

If the Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines proves that wind farms are harming the health of Australians then it will rightly affect how wind farms are planned and built.

But if it can’t then Australia’s ruling party should embrace wind – although, given its track record with evidence they don’t like, they’d probably rather put their fingers in their ears.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.