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Wind Farms and Human Health Reference Group

Member information and Declarations of Interest

NHMRC asked each expert reference group member to document their interests and involvement (financial and non-financial) in activities regarding wind turbines and human health issues. The members were also asked to consider perceived conflict of interest as well as real interests.

The members were specifically asked to identify, to the best of their ability, interests regarding:

  • Relationships with or support for companies whose products or services are related to wind farms and human health;
  • Affiliations or associations with organisations having an interest either for or against the issue;
  • Involvement in the development of guidelines, standards, education material or fact sheets relating to wind farms and human health; and
  • Financial interests or relationships including honoraria, research funding, consultancies, employment or ownership.

Reference Group Members

Professor Bruce Armstrong (Chair)

Emeritus Professor, Sydney School of Public Health
The University of Sydney

Relevant experience:

  • Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
  • Honorary Life Member of the Public Health Association of Australia.
  • Honorary Member of the International Association of Cancer Registries.
  • Senior Adviser at the Sax Institute Sydney.
  • Chair of the Board, NSW Bureau of Health Information.

Professor Armstrong is internationally recognised for his research into the causes and prevention of skin cancer and melanoma.  Professor Armstrong's recent research covers genetic and environmental causes of cancer and the quality and performance of cancer services.

Declared Interests:

  • Professor Armstrong has no declared interests.

Professor Ronald Grunstein

Professor of Sleep Medicine, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Central Clinical School
The University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

Relevant experience:

  • Professor Grunstein is a senior staff specialist physician in Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and has an honorary appointment in respiratory and sleep medicine at St Vincents Hospital Sydney.
  • Professor Grunstein has a strong interest in translational clinical research in sleep health and current interests involve metabolic and neurobiological effects of sleep loss.

Declared Interests:

  • Professor Grunstein has no declared interests.

Professor Debra Rickwood

Professor of Psychology, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra
Chief Scientific Advisor, Headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation

Relevant experience:

  • Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society.
  • Holds adjunct appointments at the Centre for Mental Health Research, ANU and Orygen Youth Health at the University of Melbourne.
  • Professor Rickwood is a social and behavioural scientist who researches the factors that affect people’s mental health and wellbeing, focusing on help-seeking behaviour and access to appropriate support.

Declared Interests:

  • Professor Rickwood has no declared interests.

Professor Wayne Smith

Director, Environmental Health Branch, NSW Health
Conjoint Professor of Epidemiology, University of Newcastle
Honorary Professor of Public Health, University of Sydney

Relevant experience:

  • Professor Smith has extensive epidemiological methodological experience including, conducting, analysing, interpreting and publishing on a range of areas in epidemiology.
  • Professor Smith is working in the areas of genetic and molecular epidemiology, and the health consequences of the built and industrial environment.

Declared Interests:

  • In his capacity as Director, Environmental Health Branch at NSW Health, Professor Smith has undertaken the following tasks relating to wind turbines and their health effects; comment objectively on potential health risks from environmental sources, comment on guidelines, attend meetings with interested parties to discuss scientific evidence and critically appraise grey literature in briefings to the Chief Health Officer and Minister for Health.
  • Professor Smith holds two professorial positions, neither position, or the associated duties causes any past or foreseeable conflicts of interest.

Professor Michael Abramson

Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine
School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University

Relevant experience:

  • Professor Abramson is an environmental epidemiologist and respiratory physician with interest in public health issues including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), allergies and their occupational and environmental risk factors, including air pollution. 

Declared Interests:

  • Professor Abramson has no declared interests.

Dr Elizabeth Hanna

Fellow, National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health
Australian National Univeristy College of Medicine, Biology and Environment

Relevant Expertise:

  • Dr Hanna’s research investigates the impacts of environmental determinants on population health, and the adaptive or preventive responses adopted by community members and the health sector. Dr Hanna's expertise lies in environmental health assessments, health impacts of exposures to climate change, heat and chemicals, and occupational health and safety. 

Declared Interests:

  • Guideline Development:
    • As National Convener of the Environmental Health Special Interest Group, Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Dr Hanna developed PHAA’s policies on climate change.
  • Research Funding:
    • Dr Hanna has been the Chief Investigator on several NHMRC grants researching the health impacts of climate change.
  • Other:
    • Dr Hanna represents the Australian College of Nursing on the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) Committee of Management and has been President of CAHA since August 2011.
    • In September 2014, CAHA and the Climate Council released a joint statement and briefing paper on the human health effects of coal mining and coal fired electricity generation.
    • In 2011, CAHA developed a submission to the Inquiry on the Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms. Dr Hanna was not an author or contributor to the report, however, during the development phase she was on the CAHA email list and had access to draft versions.

Dr Norm Broner

Practice Leader – Acoustics, Noise and Vibration
Jacobs (formerly Sinclair Knight Merz)

Relevant experience:

  • Dr Broner has over 30 years of consulting experience in Acoustics, Noise and Vibration. Through his consulting experience Dr Broner has been heavily involved in the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements and with the preparation of Environmental Management plans.

Declared Interests:

  • Guideline Development:
    • Developed low frequency noise limits that have been adopted by the NSW Department of Planning.
  • Publications:
    • Has published papers on infrasound and low frequency noise since 1976.
  • Employment:
    • As part of his role as a consultant acoustician with Sinclair Knight Merz and Jacobs, Dr Broner has supervised and conducted noise level predictions and technical assessments of wind farm noise compliance against specific criteria, on behalf of wind farm developers, a local Council and State Government. These projects include:
      • Kelland Wind Farm, New Zealand  (2007) - on behalf of a developer.
      • Newfield wind farm, Victoria (2008) - on behalf of Corrangamite Shire.
      • Toora Wind Farm, Victoria (2009) - on behalf of a developer.
      • Waterloo Wind Farm, South Australia (2009) - on behalf of a developer.
      • Flyers Creek Wind Farm and Collector Wind Farm, NSW (2013) - on behalf of the State Government.
  • Other:
    • Dr Broner is appointed as one of four international advisors assisting Health Canada undertake a study into wind turbine noise and health.

Anne McKenzie

Consumer Advocate
The University of Western Australia’s School of Population Health and the Telethon Kids Institute

Relevant experience:

  • Ms McKenzie has a key strength in providing a bridge between consumers / community members and stakeholder groups.
  • Ms McKenzie understands the importance of networks, collaborative partnerships and systems to enhance consumer and community input and participation at a strategic level of an organisation.

Declared Interests:

  • Ms McKenzie has no declared interests.

Observers

To ensure transparency of processes and to assist the Reference Group fulfil their Terms of Reference, two observers have been invited to the Reference Group.

The document below outlines the role of observers. Each of the observers agreed to these conditions prior to participating in the Reference Group.

Peter Mitchell

Honorary Chairman, Waubra Foundation
Member of Board of Governors, Florey Neuroscience Institute
Patron, Children First Foundation

Relevant experience:

  • Mr Mitchell has spent four years researching the technical characteristics of wind power generation. Mr Mitchell founded the Waubra Foundation, an independent organisation formed to investigate the health problems identified by residents living near wind turbines and other industrial sites and to facilitate properly reviewed, independent research into their claims.
  • Mr Mitchell’s involvement in the work of the Foundation includes assisting with investigations of wind turbine noise emissions, pre-construction noise impact assessment and post construction noise compliance, the adequacy or otherwise of current noise guidelines, meeting with residents and advocacy for independent research.

Declared Interests:

  • Financial:
    • Family members/family company hold shares in a large diversified energy company which is also an owner and operator of wind projects. 
  • Guideline Development:
    • As part of his role at the Waubra Foundation, Mr Mitchell has lodged and participated in public submissions on guidelines relating to wind farms.
  • Other:
    • Mr Mitchell is the Honorary Chairman of the Waubra Foundation. The Objectives of the Waubra Foundation (PDF, 200KB) and details of the Board membership are available on the Waubra Foundation website.
    • Previously associated with the Landscape Guardians (up to mid-2010) and was involved in the Landscape Guardian’s submission to the Senate Inquiry on the Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms.
    • As an engineer, Mr Mitchell has a general interest and professional duty to ensure that where he is involved, safety of people is paramount and infrastructure or associated production assets:
      • do not cause harm, illness, or nuisance to workers or any other persons;
      • are built to proven safe standards; and
      • are fitted with adequate measurement and control systems to ensure safe and efficient operation at all times.

Mr Mitchell’s current interest focuses on machinery and infrastructure generating power from wind.

The Mitchell family owns a house and farm, operates agricultural businesses and employs staff in an area approved for a wind energy project. The unknown impact on staff and future habitability of the property has contributed to an interest in independent and thorough research on the subject of wind turbines and health.


Russell Marsh

Policy Director, Clean Energy Council

Relevant experience:

  • Mr Marsh is the Policy Director at the Clean Energy Council and has over 10 years experience in climate and energy policy, in Australia and overseas.
  • The Clean Energy Council is the peak body representing Australia's clean energy sector. It is an industry association made up of more than 600 member companies operating in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency, including: involvement in the development or deployment of clean energy technologies such as bioenergy, cogeneration, energy efficiency, geothermal, hydro, solar, solar hot water, marine energy and wind.

Declared interests:

  • Guideline Development:
    • Mr Marsh has contributed to the development of numerous material and guidelines relating to wind farms and health including:
      • Clean Energy Council Myths and Facts
      • Submission to SA Statewide wind farms development plan amendment
      • Submission to draft NSW Wind Farm Planning guidelines
  • Other:
    • Mr Marsh is employed as Policy Director of the Clean Energy Council, the national peak body for clean energy. The objectives of the Clean Energy Council are available here  Members of the Clean Energy Council include companies involved in the development of wind farms and wind farm/turbine suppliers. Details of the Clean Energy Council membership is available here.
    • Mr Marsh appeared before the Senate Inquiry into the Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms and he also contributed to the Clean Energy Council written submission to the inquiry. Mr Marsh has also appeared before other parliamentary inquiries where wind farms and health issues were discussed but not the primary focus of the inquiry.
    • As part of his role at the Clean Energy Council, Mr Marsh has made numerous appearances in the media regarding wind farms and health.

 

Page reviewed: 25 September, 2014