For a number of years we have been advocating on behalf of regional communities to have the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) as the primary regulator for wind farm turbine noise in Victoria. Last week the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning released new regulations for wind farm noise that now makes the EPA as the regulator and a streamlined process for community members to have greater control and trust in the process.
See our submission here that for the Victorian Changes to the Regulation of Wind Farm Noise
We also identified a confusing situation with two separate pieces of legislation that was being used for noise regulation and the need for a re-jig see here and here. That’s now changed too, making it simpler for everyone. Win!
Some new features include the implementation of a noise management plan with an annual statement detailing the actions that have been taken to ensure compliance. There’s also a 5 yearly noise monitoring which we argued was not necessary for a range of reasons. Nevertheless we hope the signal is received that the community can trust the new noise regime.
The complaints process is now streamlined, with a solid regime for community members to take complaints and have them resolved and a yearly report from the wind farm to show actions detailing the actions that have been taken to ensure compliance, another step showing greater transparency.
One thing that stays the same is the ongoing compliance with the New Zealand Noise Standard, an evidence based noise standard that sets out noise limits that has been in use for over a decade.
Last week saw the launch of an updated Community Engagement and Benefit Sharing Guide for VRET 2. It is a fantastic resource and we welcome the commitment to Aboriginal self-determination in the guide. Re-Alliance’s work features as a case study in the guide so check it out.
Wind Farms are highly regulated and receive lots of scrutiny from the media. Wind Farms need the permission of the landholder - without that it wont go ahead. They must be on suitable land, there’s a rigorous planning process that considers fire risk, environmental impact, road use, shadow flicker, community sentiment, economic impact, noise and many other things. Following approval, companies must comply with ongoing environment and noise regulations. The bottom line is, wind turbines are safe and the community can trust the process.
Now with a noise regime that the community can trust and a new guide for engagement and benefits it's time to get on and build more wind farms to significantly reduce CO2 emissions this decade and deliver cheaper power to everyone.