Doubt wins over evidence on wind farm

VCAT has chosen to delay a decision on approval of the Cherry Tree Wind Farm because of doubts raised by objectors as to whether it might have health effects.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has decided to defer its ruling on whether to approve Infigen’s Cherry Tree Wind Farm until 4 October studies by the SA EPA and the National Health and Medical Research Council have been completed.

The decision illustrates the effectiveness of the anti wind lobby in using doubt as their product rather than detailed epidemiological evidence.

The Tribunal have chosen to defer making decision in spite of finding in their own words:


--The proposed development is not prohibited by the Mitchell Planning Scheme.

--The visual impact of the proposal will not be unacceptable.  The development will to a large extent be screened from the public realm

--The proposal will not have an unacceptable impact on local flora and fauna. 

--The acoustic modelling demonstrates that the proposed development will comply with the noise standard

--The development will not give rise to problems relating to bushfire, salinity, erosion or aviation.

So while the project is in compliance with the law and planning guidelines, the Tribunal will not rule on the project due to objectors claiming they believe it might impact on people health. Yet the Tribunal noted that these objectors, “have been unable to refer the Tribunal to any judgment or decision of an environmental court or tribunal which has found that there is a causal link between emissions from a wind farm and adverse health effects on nearby residents.” 

In addition the Tribunal acknowledged that the NHMRC’s previous finding that,

The review of the available evidence, including journal articles, surveys, literature reviews and government reports, supports the statement that: There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines.

Also one has to wonder why they need to wait for the SA EPA to do a study of the Waterloo Wind Farm, when the SA EPA has already done a study clearly illustrating that wind farms have little impact on the levels of infrasound (the claimed cause of sickness from wind turbines) in homes proximate to turbines.

In the end the Cherry Tree Wind Farm will most likely be approved in six months time when the NHMRC and the SA EPA again show there is little evidence to support the idea of Wind Turbine Syndrome. But the Tribunal really should not have shirked their responsibility to make a decision based on the law and the balance of evidence already available. If we wait until all doubt is resolved before, we run the risk of far worse things happening which we are far more sure about.

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