ECO 110 wind turbines manufactured by Alstom are seen in the Landes de Couesme wind farm near La Gacilly, western France, April 26, 2014.
ECO 110 wind turbines manufactured by Alstom are seen in the Landes de Couesme wind farm near La Gacilly, western France, April 26, 2014. U.S. industrial conglomerate General Electric Co is in advanced talks to buy the global power division of struggling French engineering group Alstom for about $13 billion, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday. A deal to sell Alstom's power assets, which account for about 70 percent of total group revenue, would effectively break up the engineering group and leave Alstom as a pure transport business, already known for its high-speed TGV trains. Reuters/Stephane Mahe

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is out of power, but the country continues to debate over the safety of wind farms. Abbott was against wind farms but favoured coal, which contributes to pollution.

Reports say that New South Wales Assistant Health Minister Pru Goward ignored her advisers and insists that wind farms pose a risk to human health based on five or six complaints from residents. Because of her stand, the Climate Council has offered to brief Goward on how safe wind farms are.

She claims that residents who lived near wind farms complained of headaches and other ailments. “There are a number of people with health problems … it is clearly not psychosomatic,” The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Goward as saying. The health minister also insists the blades of the turbines create pressure waves that “resonate in the skulls” of residents who live within a five-kilometre radius of the wind farms.

“The fact is, our most respected scientific institutions including the National Health and Medical Research Council have found there is no evidence that wind farms are harmful to human health,” Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said in a statement. On the other hand, she adds that there is so much evidence about how coal is harmful to human health.

McKenzie points out that despite the “mountain of evidence” against coal, many politicians rarely state the concerns about the negative impact of the commodity, which is one of the top exports of Australia. She stresses that mining and burning coal to generate power emits toxic and carcinogenic substances into the air, water and land.

The CEO adds that Australia’s heavy reliance on coal to generate electricity and the push for expansion of the coal industry present significant health risks to communities, families and individuals. MacKenzie pushed for an energy policy based on strong evidence and not on the “opinions of a handful of people.”

With the exit of Abbott, the new government led by Malcom Turnbull appointed Andrew Dyer as Australia’s first wind farm commissioner in early October. Dyer, who used to chair the telecommunications watchdog, will head the wind farm agency for three years.

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