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Friday, 17th May, 2013

AGL to shortlist Silverton tenders

By Andrew Robertson

Another government department has dismissed claims inaudible sound generated from wind farms can harm the health of people living near them.

Victoria’s Health Department has just released two information booklets in response to concerns surrounding windfarm projects in that state.

The booklets, “Windfarms, sound and health”, state that sound can only affect health at levels that are loud enough to be easily audible.

“This means that if you cannot hear a sound, there is no known way that it can affect health,” the booklet, which was released earlier this month, states.

Critics of wind farms have pointed to the impact noise, including infrasound, or very low frequency sound, from turbines has on people living near them.

The booklets include infrasound measurement results from two wind farms in Victoria and South Australia that show they are 20 decibels lower than the audibility threshold.

“In conclusion, there is overwhelming evidence that infrasound from wind farms is at levels which are too low to be audible and no higher than background levels in the environment.”

A spokesman for the Victorian health department told the BDT that information contained in the booklets was sourced from existing studies.

“It’s not work that we have done ... it’s a compilation of work in existence already.”

In February a report by the SA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) found levels of noise from wind turbines were insignificant and no different to air-conditioners or distant traffic.

The nation’s peak research body, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), in 2010 stated there was no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse effects.

The NHMRC is due to update its statement sometime this year.

Meanwhile, the owner of the Silverton Wind Farm Project, AGL, said it would discuss the next stage of the turbine tender process with locals later this month at the next community consultation meeting.

AGL called for tenders for the construction of turbines late last year and a spokeswoman for the company said that a number of companies had responded by the March deadline.

She said the companies would now be shortlisted before final selection took place towards the end of the year.

“It’s quite a long process.”

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