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    Source:  Engage Victoria

    Changes to the regulation of wind farm noise – Victoria, Australia  

    Source:  Engage Victoria | Action alerts, Australia, Law, Noise

    New regulations of wind energy facilities in Victoria are proposed to ensure that the amenity of local communities is protected and to provide certainty for industry. These will replace interim regulations, which are due to expire in October 2022.

    What is being proposed?

    Three alternative approaches to wind farm noise regulation have been assessed in a regulatory impact statement (RIS), prepared by Deloitte Access Economics:

    1. No additional regulation – relying on general provisions within the Environment Protection Act 2017
    2. Direct regulation – setting specific requirements for compliance
    3. Permissions – using a permit or other permission from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to specify requirements for compliance.

    The RIS identified that the preferred approach is direct regulation, as it is expected to provide greater certainty by creating an explicit and transparent regulatory framework.

    The following package of requirements for wind farm operators is proposed under both the direct regulation and permissions options:

    • Complying in an ongoing manner with the relevant noise standard
    • Implementing a noise management plan, including a complaints management plan
    • Providing an annual statement of actions taken to ensure compliance
    • Completing a post-construction noise assessment
    • Undertaking noise monitoring every five years.

    Under all options, EPA will be the primary regulator for wind farm turbine noise, for new and existing facilities.

    The Minister for Planning will continue to be responsible for assessing applications and approving permits for wind farm developments.

    Why are new regulations needed?

    The Environment Protection Amendment (Interim) Regulations 2021 [click here for PDF] were made on 26th October 2021, are currently in effect and will expire after 12 months. Ongoing regulations are required to ensure continuity and certainty for industry and community.

    How does this relate to the interim regulations?

    Proposed regulations about wind farm noise have been developed for public feedback, the Environment Protection Amendment Regulations 2022 (‘proposed regulations’).

    The proposed regulations have the same requirements for wind farm operators as in the current interim regulations, with some minor points of clarification and updates to the timing of requirements. This includes two changes in response to public consultation on previous draft regulations in January 2021:

    • allowing greater flexibility in periodic monitoring of wind turbine noise, specifically the use of alternate assessment points.
    • continuing to allow for stakeholder agreements with wind farm operators.

    Table 1. Requirements for wind farm operators

    Requirement in the interim regulations Changes in the proposed regulations

    Ongoing compliance with the relevant noise standard No change
    For properties subject to new stakeholder agreements, upper noise limit of 45dB or background sound plus 5 dB Timeline of requirement coming into effect changed from 1 November 2021 to 1 June 2022
    Completing a post-construction noise assessment within 12 months of commencement of operations Timeline of requirement coming into effect changed from 1 November 2021 to 1 June 2022
    Implementing a noise management plan, including a complaints management plan Clarifying that the noise management plan must be provided to EPA upon request, with the timeline changed from 1 January 2021 to 1 June 2022.
    Providing an annual statement detailing actions to ensure compliance, from 1 July 2022 Due date changed from three months after the end of the financial year to four months, as per the original regulations
    Conducting noise monitoring every five years, from 1 January 2024 No change
    No transitional provisions Transitional provisions to preserve the requirements that applied under the interim regulations and any reports produced during this time

    How can I participate?

    Please provide your feedback via the ‘Participate’ tab at the top of this website.

    Please note that submissions to the previous consultation on wind farm noise regulation in January 2021 will not be considered as part of this consultation. Submitters to the previous consultation are welcome to provide additional or revised submissions to this consultation.

    The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) will consider feedback and make recommendations on the final regulations or other regulatory options to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. It is intended that these will be introduced, along with a report of responses to public comments in mid-2022.

    How can I find more information?

    More information about the regulation of operational wind farm noise, including technical guidance is available from the Environment Protection Authority – Victoria (EPA).

    Concerns about wind farm turbine noise should be raised directly with the wind farm operator. The operator will respond according to their complaints management procedures. If unresolved, concerns about noise pollution can be reported to EPA via the 24/7 Pollution Report hotline – 1300 372 842 or you can send an email to contact@epa.vic.gov.au.

    For more information, see the document library for:

    For any questions or further comments about this consultation, please email windfarmnoise@delwp.vic.gov.au

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