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Wind power noise standards inadequate, activists claim

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A group campaigning on the health effects of wind turbines has called into question the environmental noise standards applied to wind farms.

The group, Wind Energy Queensland, claims that authorities in South Australia are exposing people to harmful noise levels from wind turbines by giving approval to wind farms using inadequate standards.

Group spokesman Bryan Lyons said that the World Health Organisation recommended a maximum indoor noise level of 30 decibels, but under South Australian guidelines wind farms are allowed to emit noises up to 40 decibels.

He said the guidelines assume being inside a dwelling will reduce outside noise by 10 decibels – double the amount of noise reduction measured in tests conducted in Victoria.

Mr Lyons said Queensland Noise Policy guidelines obviate the issue by setting an indoor noise limit of 30 decibels, in line with WHO recommendations.

He said that, as a result, no wind farms have been developed in Queensland since the guidelines were introduced in 2008.

Mr Lyons said several people who host wind farms on their farms have lodged formal complaints about excessive noise and sleep disturbance.

The possible health effects of wind farms is to be the subject of National Health and Medical Research Council study after Prime Minister Tony Abbott backed an inquiry into the issue.

This is despite almost 20 studies conducted internationally that have failed to find evidence that wind farms harm health, and the results of a NHMRC review conducted in 2010 that concluded “there is currently no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects”.

Adrian Rollins