Report supports windfarm noise

The inaudible sound caused by windfarms is no worse than that from other rural and urban environments and does not affect human health, a review by the Victorian Department of Health has found.

Some groups claim the inaudible noise from wind turbines, known as infrasound, can trigger health problems including dizziness, headaches and insomnia. 

Together, the syndromes are sometimes described as ‘wind turbine syndrome’.

The Health Department review, released late last week, assessed the evidence and found it does not “support claims that inaudible sounds can have direct physiological effects. Physiological effects on humans have only been detected at levels that are easily audible”. 

The report says infrasound is generated by many sources, such as trains, breaking waves and airconditioners. 

The department found the evidence showed windfarms produced no more infrasound than the background level of sound in other environments.

The report went on to say “Humans have been exposed to high levels of infrasound throughout our evolution, with no apparent effects”.

The department found windfarms did produce audible noise through the swish of a rotating turbine blade, but the report says the typical sound pressure for most nearby residents - living up to a kilometre from a turbine - is lower than many other everyday environmental noises.

It says audible noise, including that from windfarms, can cause annoyance resulting in prolonged stress and other health effects. 

The report says whether health effects are felt from low-level audible noise can depend on an individual’s noise sensitivity and attitude to the source.

Victoria has some of the world’s toughest laws on windfarms, allowing any household to veto a new turbine within two kilometres of their home.