Australian Parliament Senate rejects anti-wind bill, notes nocebo effect

An Australian Senate Committee has issued its report recommending rejection of an anti-wind private members bill, the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment (Excessive Noise from Wind Farms) Bill 2012. The Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications received 245 oral and written submissions, and issued a substantial report on November 28.

Overall, the committee came to the same conclusions as every other major study of anti-wind claims:

3.23 There is limited, and contested, published evidence that wind farm noise may be associated with annoyance and sleep disturbance in some individuals, but the causes are not clear…

3.44 The committee concludes that, while it is possible that the human body may detect infrasound in several ways, there is no evidence to suggest that inaudible infrasound (either from wind turbines or other sources) is creating health problems. In contrast, there is an established literature confirming the existence of psychogenic, or nocebo, effects in general, and at least one study suggesting they may be responsible for symptoms in some wind turbine cases.

3.50 …the wide range of symptoms, the regular expression of anxiety about wind farm construction, and the widely varying relationship between the facilities and the symptoms experienced, all suggest a complex situation that cannot obviously be ascribed to the operation of wind turbines alone. The committee concurs with Dr Tait that recurring claims of a wind turbine syndrome, for which there is no peer-reviewed evidence, are obscuring the focus on assisting properly the small number of people whose cases do need attention. The committee is also concerned that a nocebo response is developing, caused by the reproduction and dissemination of claims about adverse health impacts – claims not grounded in the peer-reviewed literature currently available.

See Acoustic Ecology’s comments on the report here. Simon Chapman, professor of public health at the University of Sydney, comments on the destructive power of the anti-wind nocebo effect here. The study currently being conducted by Health Canada is expected to primarily show this nocebo effect.


  1. DSS

    A reader writes:
    \”Thank you for all the valuable data and information that you have provided. It is certainly pertinent to the issues we are facing in Southern Ontario, Canada. It has been a few years since we spoke in Vancouver but it sounds like you still maintain a finger on the pulse and a wise, clear and knowing voice for those of us that would not be privy to such data/information. Thank you again and Happy Holiday\”
    Thank you!

  2. NIABY

    In Norfolk County, Ontario, Ministry of the Environment officials are allowing residences (some as close as 400 metres to the closest wind tubine) to receive “53 dba” of sound, which they state is a combination of wind turbine sound emissions and the sound of the wind itself.

    The sound levels recorded are averaged over a ten-minute period and this determines whether the wind turbines are “in compliance.”

    Anyone who has ever spent time near a modern-sized wind turbine (or in the middle of dozens of modern-sized wind turbines) knows that the sounds coming from the wind turbines go up and down constantly as the wind gusts. The sound can be atrocious for thirty seconds, and then maybe not noticeable for a minute.

    The problem is, when people are trying to sleep in their beds, spiking sound emissions impact on the human body waking people from sleep. Trying to get a night of restorative sleep turns into a series of short naps — if you’re lucky. Sometimes the sounds are so intrusive you can’t even fall asleep at all!

    “Averaging” the sound levels remove the effects that spikes in sounds actually have on humans. Obviously this has the potential to turn into a dangerous situation very quickly. It is safe to say that you wouldn’t be able to do your job very well (if at all) if you couldn’t depend on being able to rest in your home.

    So why is this being ignored by government and industry? Why do theories like “nocebo” get any attention when there are obviously real health risks present and being ignored? This certainly makes it hard for families, some with children, to decide whether to stay or leave when a wind turbine facility is proposed for their backyard, when they hear so many people, including our own governments, saying, “this is safe.”

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