Langzeit-Infraschallmessungen in Australien

von übertragen – dort veröffentlicht am 12.02.2013

Waterloo and Wind Turbines


With many thaks to Andreas, Patina and Mary!

The Australian today:

Die Augen der Welt werden auf Waterloo gerichtet sein, wenn die WKA auf dem Prüfstand stehen

In ein unveröffentlichten Studie, sagten fast drei Viertel der Befragten, dass sie durch den Lärm oder die Vibrationen von Windkraftanlagen geschädigt wurden.

Die Geister von Waterloo, die ehemaligen Bewohner, welche aus ihren Häusern im ländlichen South Australia geflüchtet sind, um seltsamen Beschwerden zu entkommen, für die sie die Windkraftanlagen verantwortlich machen, sind auerstanden, um Big Wind heimzusuchen.

Angesichts wachsender internationaler Beweise und anhaltender Dementis der Industrie wird Waterloo zum Testgelände für ein Schallmonitoring-Programm, welches weltweit Wirkung zeigen könnte.

Zwei Monate lang wird die Umweltschutz-Behörde Süd Australiens kontinuierlich die untersten Schallfrequenzen an den WKA in Waterloo messen. Mittels ihrer Autorität wird die Behörde dabei die Windkraftbetreiber zwingen, zu kooperieren und die Windkraftanlagen ein- und ausschalten, damit es zu keinerlei Auseinandersetzungen über Hintergrundgeräusche kommen kann.


World’s eyes will be on Waterloo as wind turbines go on trial

  • From: The Australian
  • February 09, 2013 12:00AM

In one unpublished survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents said they had been harmed by wind turbine noise or vibrations. Picture: Aaron Francis Source: The Australian

THE ghosts of Waterloo, the absent residents who have fled their homes in rural South Australia to escape strange ailments they blame on wind turbines, have risen to haunt Big Wind.

In the face of mounting international evidence and continued industry denials, Waterloo will become the test site for a noise-monitoring program which may reverberate around the world.

Over two months, SA’s Environmental Protection Authority will continuously measure the lowest frequency noises from the Waterloo turbines. It will use its powers to force the wind company to co-operate by turning wind turbines on and off so there can be no dispute about background noise.

The new testing is considered to be a critical development in a long-running dispute over wind turbines that has split rural communities and frustrated an industry that sees itself as critical to Australia’s clean energy future.

A literature review on health impacts is due to be released next month by the National Health and Medical Research Council. But momentum continues to build for real research, and the number of complaints continues to grow.

Federal Liberal MP Dan Tehan says he has been “agnostic” about wind power. “My view on wind power was that it had the potential to create jobs and help drought-proof properties,” Tehan says. “I was also concerned about some of the things I had heard about health impacts. I guess I was a bit of a wait and see.”

Tehan has waited long enough. Three months after Australia’s biggest wind farm, the Macarthur development, began operations in Tehan’s Wannon electorate, he says “these concerns need to be taken seriously”.

“It is not just anti-climate change people doing this,” he says. “These are people who just want to live their lives and not deal with government of any form.”

Like Tehan, Mary Morris has been reluctantly drawn into the wind turbine noise debate. Morris says it was civic duty and a sense of justice that got her involved in the plight of Waterloo residents who claim they have been forced to leave their homes because of wind turbine noise. And it has been her determination that may have finally flushed out the SA EPA to do its job on wind. Morris got involved when University of Adelaide masters student Frank Wang surveyed residents within a 5km radius of the Waterloo wind turbines. Seventy per cent of respondents claimed they had been negatively affected by the wind farm noise and more than 50 per cent said they had been very or moderately negatively affected.

When Wang’s leaked findings were not publicly released, Morris ran her own survey, which found 39 per cent of respondents reported sleep disturbance up to 5km from the wind turbines. At 10km away, 29 per cent of respondents reported sleep disturbance.

Morris sent her findings to the EPA but says she was told “Thanks, but this is not science.”

But she was not deterred. In a follow-up letter, Morris said: “The EPA’s lack of interest and action in relation to complaints from excessive wind turbine noise can only be explained by institutional bias or, perhaps, worse.

“In your letter you say that the EPA also does not have evidence that low-frequency sound/infrasound is present in the Waterloo wind farm area at high levels, or is associated with operation of the wind farm.

“The absence of that evidence is explained by the fact that the EPA has never bothered to gather it and has simply relied upon the untested assertions made by the acoustic consultants routinely engaged by the wind farm developers.”

Morris said the EPA had a statutory and common law duty to protect people unluckily situated too close to industrial wind farms, or any industrial noise source.

“I am aware of numerous groups of adversely affected rural people in SA and other states who have sought and obtained legal advice about instituting proceedings in nuisance and negligence against turbine hosts, developers, planning authorities and the EPA, seeking substantial damages for the loss of the use and enjoyment of their homes and properties,” she wrote. “The EPA is unlikely to avoid liability in damages by maintaining ‘a watching brief’ on the guidelines, as you put it.”

Following Morris’s letter, the EPA last month held a public meeting at which chief executive Campbell Gemmell announced a noise-testing program will take place at Waterloo; it will be one of the most rigorous undertaken anywhere in the world.

EPA science and assessment director Peter Dolan says monitoring will start in April and continue uninterrupted for two months.

The EPA will use its powers to compel the wind turbine operator to turn its turbines on and off so that background noise can be accurately measured. And it will use very sensitive, and expensive, equipment to measure sound frequencies as low as 0.25 hertz.

Dolan is quick to point out the EPA will not make any judgment on whether wind turbines cause health problems. This will be left to the National Health and Medical Research Council, which is due to release another review of published literature next month.

But the Waterloo tests will provide information on what is really going on acoustically.

“Something is happening and we are trying our best to figure out what it is,” Dolan says. “I certainly believe people are affected by something.

“There are some theories around that it is not infrasound but low-frequency noise, but something is affecting people for certain. They are not making it up.”

Wind farm opponents in Australia believe the EPA may be able to find some clues in a recent study conducted at the Shirley wind farm in Wisconsin in the US.

Following complaints similar to those in Waterloo, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission engaged four acoustic consulting firms to conduct a joint study.

Two of the firms had close links to wind farm developers, one worked for anti-wind farm groups and the fourth worked for both.

“The four investigating firms are of the opinion that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry,” the joint study concluded.

“It should be addressed beyond the present practice of showing that wind turbine levels are magnitudes below the threshold of hearing at low frequencies.”

The acoustic companies highlighted 1986 research by the US Navy, which found physical vibration of pilots in flight simulators induced motion sickness.

The Shirley report also challenged the theory that the health impacts are psychosomatic, or a so-called “nocebo” effect.

“The fact that residents largely report wind turbines as inaudible, and the reported effects on a baby, seem to rule out the illness being caused by extreme annoyance, as some have suggested,” the report says. “The lack of change with orientation of the turbine with respect to the house and the lack of change with position in the house suggest that we are dealing with very low frequencies.”

The wind industry has avoided the Shirley report and sought to downplay the significance of the new EPA research in Australia.

Wind industry lobby group the Clean Energy Council highlighted another EPA-commissioned study which found that the level of infrasound from wind turbines was not significant.

“There are nearly 200,000 wind turbines all over the world, many of them close to people’s houses,” CEC policy director Russell Marsh says. “Multiple scientific, thorough, peer-reviewed studies on wind farm noise have found that infrasound from wind farms is not an issue, and a recent Senate committee inquiry agreed.”

Marsh says a recent EPA-commissioned report by Resonate Acoustic “provided some much-needed clarity in a debate that has often been clouded by misinformation”. But Dolan says the Resonate Acoustic work is “only part of the puzzle” and did not measure sound at Waterloo.

Acoustic expert Steven Cooper says the Resonate research has several obvious shortcomings.

Resonate’s use of the dBG (infrasonic weighting) range to measure the wind turbine noise is “inappropriate and misleading”, he says. And the use of a 10-second average removed the acoustic signature of the turbines.

Cooper says the correct method of describing turbine infrasound is the linear (unweighted) level over the infrasound region of 0.8 Hz to 20 Hz.

This information will be captured in the EPA’s proposed long-term monitoring.

Dolan says the testing will be conducted in-house and the results will be made public.

Wind industry leader Vestas has been keen that low-frequency noise be left out of the wind turbine monitoring equation.

In its submission to a NSW inquiry into wind industry regulation, Vestas says existing testing regimes are “not designed to deal with frequencies at the low end of the audible spectrum” because noise emissions in this band are not considered to affect the surrounding environment.

Vestas therefore suggested the requirement to measure low-frequency noise be removed from the NSW draft guidelines.


Wind-weathered residents await turbine test

PEOPLE power has forced a study of turbine noise.

Wind-weathered residents await turbine test

by: Graham Lloyd, Environment Editor

From: The Australian | February 09, 2013 12:00AM

Mary Morris

Mary Morris

A sense of civic duty prompted Mary Morris to campaign for residents opposed to wind turbines on health grounds. Picture: Kelly Barnes Source: The Australian

MARY Morris is a reluctant poster girl in a bitter fight over industrial wind turbines that has split rural communities.

Her great grandfather, JW Armstrong, was a magistrate and community leader who helped pioneer South Australia’s Robertstown district in the 1870s. Over four generations, Armstrong’s descendants have established the local RSL, sat on the board of Eudunda hospital and the regional board of health, and have taken an active interest in social justice, the church, sport, teaching, nursing, youth groups and local government.

Ms Morris said it was civic duty and a sense of justice that got her involved in the plight of Waterloo residents who claimed they had been forced to abandon their homes because of what they said was the noise impact of wind turbines.

Barrister Peter Quinn described Ms Morris as “Country Women’s Association with attitude”.

Her determination may finally have forced the South Australian Environmental Protection Authority to conduct what could be the most comprehensive noise testing of wind turbines in the world.

“As time goes on, more and more people are prepared to speak out as it becomes more a mainstream thing and not just whingers,” Ms Morris said.

“People want the testing to be done openly and transparently.”

South Australian EPA science and assessment director Peter Dolan said testing would start at Waterloo in April and would continue uninterrupted for two months.

The EPA will measure sounds down to 0.25 hertz and will ensure wind turbine operator TRUenergy turns the wind turbines off and on when requested to get an accurate measure of background noise.

The testing follows a joint study in Wisconsin in the US that found enough evidence to “classify low frequency noise and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the (wind) industry”.

The wind industry continues to deny there is a problem.

Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh said multiple, thorough, peer-reviewed scientific studies on wind farm noise had found infrasound from wind farms was not an issue.

An earlier study commissioned by the EPA has been cited as evidence that infra-sound from wind turbines is not significant.

“The EPA’s report found that the level of infrasound from wind turbines is insignificant and no different to any other sources of noise, and that the worst contributors to household infrasound are airconditioners, traffic and noise generated by people,” Mr Marsh said.

He said the report provided some “much-needed clarity in a debate that has often been clouded by misinformation”.

Mr Dolan said the earlier report did not present a complete picture.

The testing will take place at Waterloo, where there have been a lot of complaints. It will include very low frequency noise, much lower than the earlier report, and will not screen out frequencies specific to wind turbines.

“The eyes of the world are going to be on the South Australian EPA on how they handle this,” Ms Morris said.


Australian Industrial Wind Turbine Awareness Network

“Wenn du die Wahrheit verschweigst und sie unter den Teppich kehrst, wird sie wachsen bis sie eine derartige Sprengkraft bekommt, dass sie an dem Tag, an dem sie durchbricht, alles wegfegen wird, was ihr im Weg steht.”

Emile Zola

“If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way”.


Turbines ‘tarnish property values’


From: The Australian | February 12, 2013 12:00AM

toora wind farm

toora wind farm

Magistrate Kate Hughes ruled a property would be worth 17 per cent less if a 14-turbine facility were erected next door. Picture: David Geraghty Source: Supplied

A FEDERAL magistrate has accepted that wind farms slash the value of surrounding properties, saying she found it “hard to imagine” any prospective buyer could ignore such development.

In a decision believed to be the first time an Australian court has recognised the adverse financial impact of wind farms for neighbours, magistrate Kate Hughes ruled a property would be worth 17 per cent less if a 14-turbine facility were erected next door.

For one part of the property, in regional Victoria, she accepted a 33 per cent fall in value was likely.

The ruling came in a family law case published this month amid separation proceedings for the couple who own the property.

Ms Hughes heard two separate valuers had agreed the wind farm would have a negative effect on the adjacent property, which the couple has divided into three blocks. “The expert value of the three blocks of land varies significantly depending on whether or not it is assumed the proposed wind farm will go ahead,” Ms Hughes said in her judgment.

“The impact of the proposed wind farm is apparent from the valuation report.”

The ruling comes on top of last month’s decision by South Gippsland Shire Council to cut rates for one landowner on the basis that his property would lose value because of an adjacent wind farm that is yet to be built.

The resident had his land value reduced by 32 per cent after arguing he would suffer from the 52-turbine Bald Hills wind farm.

Wind farm developers and the renewables industry overall have insisted land values are not affected by wind farms.

The valuers engaged in the Federal Magistrates Court case, Raab and Raab, varied slightly in their estimates of how much the land value would drop, but agreed there would be a detrimental effect if the wind farm went ahead.

“We have agreed there is insufficient sales information currently available from which we could ascertain the level of reduction in value applicable to rural properties in close proximity to wind turbine facilities,” the valuers said in a joint report tendered to the court.

“The matter is therefore largely subjective (but) our opinion in relation to this subject property is not significantly different.”

Ms Hughes said both the husband and wife had opposed the wind farm, which was approved in 2009 under planning legislation that has since been tightened by the Baillieu government.

“Given the planning permit for the wind farm has . . . been granted, it seems reasonable to assume the wind farm is more likely than not to go ahead,” she said. “It is hard to imagine any prospective buyer ignoring that issue.”

Outside court, the wife said she wanted the case publicised as evidence of the detrimental effect wind farms could have for neighbouring properties. “This just went to confirm it,” she told The Australian.

“The wind companies have to take notice of it — they deny it all.

“It’s going to take this sort of evidence to turn that ship.”


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