Factoid Forensics: Have “more than 40” Australian families abandoned their homes because of wind farm noise?

07 February 2014

Background Anti wind farm activists repeatedly claim that families said to be adversely affected by noise from wind turbines “abandon” their homes. In Australia, a claim of “more than 40 families” has been made by a prominent anti wind farm activist. Methods Six sources (parliamentary submissions, media reports, an anti wind farm website, wind industry sources, correspondence with known anti wind farm activists, and with three politicians opposed to wind farms) were used to find evidence of home “abandonments”. Results Claims about 12 Australian households permanently (n=10) or periodically (n=2) leaving their homes were found. However, no house appears to have been permanently “abandoned” without sale, as the expression implies. These 12 cases need contextualizing against considerations that several of those involved were either dedicated activists against wind farms from times sometimes pre-dating their construction, were engaged in protracted negotiations for home purchase with wind companies, had pre-existing health problems, grievances with the wind company over employment or had left the area for unrelated reasons of employment elsewhere. Conclusions The statement that “more than 40” houses have been “abandoned” because of wind turbines in Australia is a factoid promoted by wind farm opponents for dramatic, rhetorical impact. Other considerations are often involved in abandonment unrelated to the claims made about wind farm noise.