The majority report was greatly opposed to wind power, as intended by the
fiercely pro-coal, anti-renewables, anti-climate-change-action
This was not at all surprising, since the committee was stacked with four
Senators who had already established themselves as strongly opposed to wind
power and being uninterested in the facts:
A fifth member, Matthew Canavan (Nationals, Qld), while not perhaps being so
outspokenly opposed to wind power as the four above mentioned, was certainly
very pro-coal and 'skeptical' of taking serious action
against greenhouse emissions.
Only one of the six Committee members (Anne Urquhart, ALP Tasmania) was
balanced in her views, and she produced a
Presumably Ms Urquhart was included in the committee to give a minimal
impression of balance!
There will be other commentaries, written by better writers than me (see
links), on this
Senate report so there is no point in me going into much detail here.
I will confine myself to a few simple observations that give a taste of the
quality of the report.
|Rottnest Island wind turbine
|The turbine that PM Abbott blames for his antipathy
- The majority report uncritically accepted evidence from Ms
The quality of Ms Laurie's 'evidence' has been shown to be very low on a
number of occasions including in a 2014 court case on the proposed
Stony Gap Wind Farm.
In her judgement the judge stated:
"Dr Laurie rejects all of the studies, including the EPA studies, which are
not consistent with her theories.
She admits that evidence showing a causal connection between contemporary
wind farms and health effects does not exist ..."
The senators who wrote the majority report must have known that Ms Laurie
had stopped using the 'Dr' honorific (she agreed in early 2014 with the
Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency to stop calling herself
We can only suppose that these senators used 'Dr' in an attempt to give the
evidence provided by Ms Laurie more credence.
- The majority report seems to use the statement below (page 20, point 2.27)
as an excuse to
not give proper recognition to peer-reviewed papers in respected journals:
"... Professor Chapman claims that there has been no case series or even
single case studies of so-called wind turbine syndrome published in any
reputable medical journal.
But Professor Chapman does not define 'reputable medical journal'
nor does he explain why the category of journals is limited to medical (as
distinct, for example, from scientific or acoustic).
The committee cannot therefore challenge this assertion
However, the committee does note that a decision to publish–or not to
publish–an article in a journal is ultimately a business decision of
the publisher: it does not necessarily reflect the quality of the article
I have no doubt that many, or even all, editors of respected science
journals would be
deeply insulted by the claim that the decision to publish an article
"does not necessarily reflect the quality of the article being submitted".
Professor Chapman was quite right, there have been no papers linking wind
turbines directly with adverse
health impacts in reputable
The Senators could have easily discovered what constituted a 'reputable'
journal, but they apparently chose not to.
- On page 22, point 2.30; were the anti-wind senators really unable to
importance of the distinction between 'direct' and 'indirect' effects?
"Professor Chapman claims that there is not a single example of an accredited
acoustics, medical or environmental association which has given any credence
to direct harmful effects of wind turbines.
The committee notes that the semantic distinction between 'direct' and
'indirect' effects is not helpful. [My emphasis]
Dr Leventhall and the NHMRC describe stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation
as 'indirect' effects, but these ailments nonetheless affect residents'
If wind turbine noise actually made people sick, as breathing polluted air
from the burning of coal makes people sick, that would be a 'direct' effect.
When people who live near wind turbines become anxious because of foolish
and irresponsible people spreading a baseless belief that wind turbines
cause illness – and then that anxiety goes on to cause physical
illness – that is an 'indirect' effect.
- The majority report does not even mention the valuable work done by
psychologist Fiona Crichton.
Ms Crichton's research showed that people who are under the impression that
they will become ill due to infrasound, and are then told that they are
being subjected to infrasound, are likely to experience adverse symptoms.
(See WindHealth and
The minority report does discuss Ms Crichton's work (page 213 onward).
- On page 169, the writers of the majority report were content to repeat a
false statement by Professor Ian Plimer:
"No wind farm could operate without generous taxpayer subsidies and
increased electricity charges to consumers and employers. These subsidies
are given irrespective of whether the wind farm produces any consumable
energy or not and are paid even when a wind farm is shut down due to
Wind farms get paid a bonus for the electricity they generate.
If they do not generate any electricity, they get no payments.
Of course the majority report did not discuss the
huge subsidies that go to the
competing fossil fuel industry.