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Australian Government To Commission Health Check On Wind Farms

Sean Parnell and Pia Akerman, The Australian

The controversy over wind farms is set to flare again with the Abbott government preparing to commission fresh research on the impact the giant turbines have on nearby residents.

The National Health and Medical Research Council – which only three years ago found no evidence of adverse health effects, but a need for ongoing study – has again been tasked with responding to community concerns and will soon make a targeted call for new research.

Almost a year before its election victory, the Coalition seized on the disquiet over wind farms and promised to examine the renewable energy projects more carefully should it win government, if not through NHMRC research then through a specially appointed independent panel.

Health Minister Peter Dutton recently wrote to his Victorian counterpart, David Davis, outlining plans to allow the NHMRC to lead the response, perhaps with other governments and industry bodies contributing to the cost of new research.

The move would appear to be an attempt to have all stakeholders take some financial ownership of the research in the hope they will support the outcomes and resolve the issue once and for all.

Documents obtained by The Australian under Freedom of Information laws show Mr Davis had already written to Mr Dutton – less than a fortnight after the election – to offer $100,000 funding for any such research.

“I receive regular correspondence from Victorians living in the vicinity of wind farms who report adverse health effects,” Mr Davis wrote in his first formal correspondence with the incoming federal minister.

“Unfortunately, there is a paucity of research available to enhance the community’s understanding of this matter and inform appropriate government actions and policy development. I consider that a national approach to research is needed.”

It is understood Mr Dutton has yet to decide on the funding model for the research but is likely to consult further with Mr Davis and other stakeholders.

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