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Parliamentary Question on Wind Turbines and Children with Autism

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on a survey (details supplied) which indicates that noise sensitivity is particularly problematic for 40% of children with autistic spectrum disorders who are hypersensitive to sound; the steps being taken to address the concerns of the parents of these children in north County Kildare who live in close proximity to a proposed wind farm; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Anthony Lawlor.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 31st March, 2015.

Ref No: 13227/15

Details Supplied: Davis and Steigler survey (2010), Maighne wind farm

REPLY

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly) :

Under Section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), I am precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority (including An Bord Pleanala) is or may be concerned. It would, therefore, not be appropriate for me to comment on the proposed wind energy project referred to in the Question. If this proposed project advances to planning application stage, members of the public can contribute to the deliberative process by making submissions to the relevant planning authority.

My Department is currently conducting a review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines focused specifically on noise and shadow flicker. As part of this process, my Department wrote to the Department of Health in September 2013 inviting any input that they might have on the health aspects, if any, of wind farms. 

Preliminary feedback was received from a Deputy Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the Department of Health on 11 November 2013, which indicated that wind turbines do not represent a threat to public health. This feedback was based on a 2009 literature review conducted by the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The Deputy CMO subsequently wrote to my Department on 11 April 2014 to advise that Australia’s NHMRC had updated their evidence in relation to this matter. In that letter, the Deputy CMO states ‘This review again supports previous advice that there is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans.’ The Deputy CMO also referred to the limited number of peer reviewed articles and research in this area and that Australia’s NHMRC may recommend further high quality research.

Australia’s NMHRC released a statement on 11 February 2015 stating that “a fter careful consideration and deliberation of the body of evidence, NHMRC concludes that there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans”.

My Department will continue to liaise with the Department of Health, particularly in relation to the findings of any further international peer reviewed research on this subject, including any implications for people with autism. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has also been made aware of this ongoing dialogue in the context of the implementation of its renewable energy policy (including wind energy).

END