Project Assessment and Development

Wind farm disease: itís in your mind


Do people get sick from living near wind farms? A new Australian report suggests that so-called “wind turbine syndrome” or “vibro-acoustic disease” is psychosomatic and related to worries about health warnings rather than actual physical impacts.

The report, published by researchers at the University of Sydney, investigates records of complaints about noise and health issues from Australians living near wind farms.

The data were compiled from news reports, complaints to wind farm operators and submissions to three public government enquiries, and considered all of the 49 Australian wind farms, totaling 1471 individual turbines, in operation from 1993 to 2012.

The results show that:

  • 63% of all Australian wind farms, including 50% with turbines larger than 1 megawatt, have never been the subject of public complaints regarding noise or health issues, and none of Western Australia’s 17 wind farms have ever received such complaints.
  • Only about one in every 272 residents living within five kilometres of an Australian wind farm (120 people in total) have ever laid a noise or health complaint.
  • 82% of health and noise complaints “commenced after 2009 when anti wind farm groups began to add health concerns to their wider opposition”.

The authors of the report argue that scientific “evidence for wind turbine noise or infrasound causing health problems is poor” and suggest that any perceived health problems are psychogenic “communicated diseases” caused by worries about health warnings circulated by anti wind energy activists.