Wind farms are a renewable, sustainable form of energy production, and wind farms are being established in many areas. However, some people have concerns about the potential health effects of living near a wind farm.
Wind farms have been promoted as an alternative to traditional, non-renewable forms of energy production. However, concern about the effects on health from living near a wind farm has been expressed by some members of the community. National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) assessed the evidence on wind farms and human health, under the guidance of a reference group. The findings of this review informed the development of the NHMRC Statement: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health and the NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health released in February 2015.
The NHMRC Wind Farms and Human Health Reference Group (the Reference Group) was convened from 1 February 2012 to 31 January 2015 to oversee the review of evidence. The Reference Group comprised experts in environmental epidemiology, sleep, social psychology, acoustics, sound engineering and consumer issues.
The NHMRC Statement: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health was released on 11 February 2015. The Statement provides advice to the community and to policy makers on this issue.
After careful consideration and deliberation, NHMRC concludes that there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans. Given the limitations of the existing evidence and continuing concerns expressed by some members of the community, NHMRC considers that further high-quality research on the possible health effects of wind farms is required.
The accompanying NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health summarises the evidence on the possible health effects of wind farms in humans (with a particular focus on noise, shadow flicker and electromagnetic radiation). NHMRC’s Reference Group guided the development of the Information Paper and provided scientific advice on the interpretation of the evidence.
Details of the key issues that were raised during public consultation and expert review can be found in the Public consultation: Summary of key issues and the Expert review: Summary of key issues. Non-confidential submissions are available from NHMRC Public Consultations.
Evaluation of evidence
The NHMRC Statement and Information Paper are based on the findings of a Systematic review of the human health effects of wind farms undertaken by independent reviewers under the guidance of the Reference Group. The systematic review considered a wide range of evidence published up to October 2012. The independent review was released by NHMRC in February 2014 as a background document, accompanying the draft Information Paper when it released for public consultation.
To ensure that the Information Paper was informed by all the relevant evidence, a further Review of additional evidence for NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health was conducted by independent reviewers. This review included new evidence published from October 2012 up to May 2014, and also considered the references submitted during public consultation and expert review of the draft Information Paper.
The NHMRC Statement and Information Paper updates NHMRC’s previous work on this issue and replaces the 2010 NHMRC Public Statement: Wind Turbines and Health and supporting evidence Wind Turbines and Health: A rapid review of the evidence (both available on the Australian Government Web Archive).
Further details on the development of the NHMRC Statement, Information Paper and background documents can be found in the Administrative Report: NHMRC advice on wind farms and human health.
NHMRC has also addressed Frequently Asked Questions (available in the attachments section) regarding the review on wind farms and human health.
For further information please contact NHMRC at firstname.lastname@example.org
Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner
The Commissioner is an independent role appointed by the Australian Government, reporting to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. The Commissioner’s role is to receive and refer complaints from concerned community residents about wind farms, large-scale solar farms, energy storage facilities and new major transmission projects. The Office also identifies and promotes best practices for wind industry and government to adopt in regard to the planning, development and operation of energy projects. The Commissioner will also provide greater transparency on information related to wind farms, large-scale solar farms, energy storage facilities and new major transmission projects in Australia.
More information is available at the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner website.