Noise Pollution

Bigger, louder and closer to townships

Noise pollution emitting from OSMI and HVP’s proposed Delburn Wind Farm is a key concern of SCA.
Wind turbine noise is not a sound of nature. It is repetitive like a dripping tap. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has acknowledged that wind turbines produce low frequency and infrasound, and that the special noise characteristics are not natural.
The impact poses a major threat to the community:

1. Largest on-shore turbines
  • The turbines will be as tall as the Rialto and wider than the playing field of the MCG.
  • Turbine height can be increased by 20% on approved plans without resubmission.
  • Noise carries further with greater hub heights and when turbines are located on ridges overlooking valleys
  • Larger turbines mean greater turbulence.  Turbines must be placed further apart (increasing the land footprint) or turbulence from one interferes with another, thereby reducing efficiency and increasing noise pollution.
    2. Too close to populated areas
  • According to the National Wind Farm Commissioner, the best locations for wind farms are on flat to moderately undulating land well away from neighbours (i.e. sparsely populated, broad acre farming areas). Refer to the resource below
  • The number of households impacted by this industrial scale wind farm will be in the thousands. Land zoned Rural Living falls within 3km of turbines. Residential zones in Boolarra and Yinnar are within 5km. Mirboo North and Thorpdale lay within 10km of turbines, along with housing estates in Moe and Morwell.
  • Hepburn Wind is often cited as an example of a wind farm close to homes with little impact and broad community acceptance. Not only is this wind farm owned by members of the local community, it has just 2 smaller turbines less than 110m tall. A better comparison is the industrial scale, Murra Warra Wind Farm in western Victoria with 211m tall turbines. There are only 27 houses on neighbouring (non-associated) properties within 5km of a turbine. The nearest township is 15km away.
  • 3. Victoria’s weak & poorly enforced regulations
    • Victoria has the lowest setback distances and the weakest noise protections in Australia.
      The setback distance between turbines and dwellings is just 1km. The Commissioner recommends 2km setbacks for turbines taller than 200m. Only 9 turbines would be allowed under a 2km setback limit, not 35.
      Noise regulations focus only on audible (A-weighted) sound.
    • The Victorian noise limit for turbines, as measured outside a home, is 40 dB(A). The Independent Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines and the Commissioner recommend 35 dB(A) to ensure minimal annoyance.
    • The State Government outsources compliance testing to private companies employed by the developers and operators of wind farms.
    • Despite Marshall Day Acoustics being singled out in the 2015 Senate inquiry into wind farms for its poor practices and falsifying data, the company has been engaged to do the modelling and pre-construction noise assessments for the Delburn Wind Farm.
    4. Worse than the troubled Bald Hills Wind Farm (and Waubra and Cape Bridgewater)
    • Despite the proposed Delburn turbines being bigger and noisier than those at Bald Hills, and located in hillier terrain where sound can project further, they will be placed at similar distances to houses.
    • The Bald Hills Wind Farm has been proven to be in breach of the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Act.  A recent independent and peer reviewed noise assessment found it to be non-compliant with the regulations.
    • The same bodies involved in the development of the Bald Hills Wind Farm are involved in the Delburn proposal. This includes OSMI directors Peter Marriott and Stephen Buckle, and Marshall Day Acoustics.

    Among a number of key points, the WHO (who added turbine noise to their 2018 Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region) noted the following:
    –    Health effects of individuals living in the vicinity of wind turbines can theoretically be related not only to long-term noise exposure from the wind turbines but also to disruption caused during the construction phase.
    –    The noise emitted from wind turbines has other characteristics, including the repetitive nature of the sound of the rotating blades and atmospheric influence leading to a variability of amplitude modulation, which can be a source of above average annoyance (Schäffer et al., 2016).

    TopicLinks
    World Health Organisation Regional office for Europe.  Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region. 2018Click here for more info
    Australian Government, 2018, Annual Report of the Independent Scientific Committee on Wind TurbinesClick here for more info
    Flinders University Wind Farm Noise Study
    – research project (current)
    Click here for more info
    Flinders University – wind farm noise recorded up to 9km awayClick here for more info
    EPA Victoria – wind farm sounds and healthClick here for more info
    Bald Hills Wind Farm nuisance case. August 2019 update.
    South Gippsland Sentinel Time
    Click here for more info