Wind farms environmental noise guidelines
The guidelines aim to help developers, planning and enforcement authorities, government agencies, acoustic engineers and the broader community assess environmental noise impacts from wind farms.
The core objective of the guidelines is to balance the advantages of developing wind energy projects in South Australia with protecting the amenity of the surrounding community from adverse noise impacts.
In 2018–19 the EPA carried out a technical review on the Wind farms environmental noise guidelines, to ensure that the guidelines are still appropriate. Prior to this, the guidelines were last reviewed in 2013. The technical review considered national and international research and revised international standards on noise measurements and data analysis techniques.
The guidelines have been updated after this technical review with data analysis methodologies to match techniques utilised in international standards. Further consideration has also been provided on important wind farm noise characteristics such as low frequency, infrasound, tonality and amplitude modulation. The review has also considered the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) in their Environmental noise guidelines for the European Region (October 2018) and made comparisons with other Australian and international jurisdictions.
The updated Wind farms environmental noise guidelines takes into consideration important feedback provided by both the community and subject matter experts during the review and subsequent consultation process.
The EPA intends to continue keeping up to date with current studies to ensure that the guidelines provide the most appropriate and up-to-date advice. Further updates of the guidelines may be undertaken based on the results of new scientific publications conducted.
Development process and ongoing regulations
Wind farm developments are referred to the EPA by the SA Planning Authority for advice. The EPA provides advice on wind farm compliance based on its Wind farms environmental noise guidelines and will also set conditions to be included if the wind farm is approved.
The EPA does not currently regulate wind farms after the development process is completed. As a condition of development, the EPA recommends post-construction noise monitoring to be undertaken by the proponents.
This post-construction noise monitoring report is assessed by the EPA to confirm that the operational noise of the subject wind farm meets the requirements as recommended by the guidelines. Further issues with wind farms are then handled under the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016.
Waterloo Wind Farm environmental noise study
A 2-month environmental noise study was undertaken surrounding Waterloo Wind Farm in 2013 to investigate concerns of the community regarding noise from the wind farm.
The wind farm is located in the Mid North, approximately 100 km north of Adelaide. The wind farm comprised Vestas v90 3MW wind turbine generators at the time of the study. Each turbine had a hub height of 80 m and a rated generation capacity of 111MW.