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Resource Documents: Australia (129 items)

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Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.


Date added:  May 8, 2017
Australia, Noise, TechnologyPrint storyE-mail story

Reproducing wind farm infrasound for subjective testing – Just how accurate is the reproduced signal?

Author:  Cooper, Steven

In response to investigation of residents’ complaints concerning the operation of wind turbines, independent acousticians have identified the presence of a discrete infrasound/low frequency signature associated with the operation of the turbine to be present when such turbines are operating.

The discrete signature of turbines when using narrowband analysis reveals peaks at the blade pass frequency (and harmonics of that frequency) to occur in the lower portion of the infrasound frequency band, generally below 10 Hz and a peak with sidebands around what may be the gearbox output shaft speed.

Attenuation of infrasound over distance occurs at a lower rate than that of normal sound, resulting in the discrete infrasound signature of turbines being recorded up to 7 km from wind farms, and in some situations even greater distances.

Infrasound measurements of the natural environment in rural areas free from the influence of wind turbines whilst revealing similar broadband levels of infrasound (for example using dBG or even 1/3 octaves) do not experience a discrete periodic pattern similar to that associated with rotating blades on wind turbines when assessed in narrow bands.

In seeking to assess the audible characteristics of wind turbine noise, being different to that of general traffic or environmental noise, laboratory studies have sought to use speakers to generate or to reproduce recorded signals for test subjects in a controlled environment. …

As the impact of the turbine’s inaudible infrasound on people has not been studied in controlled studies, of critical importance in the laboratory assessment of wind turbine “noise” is the question as to whether the source signals generated in the laboratory are full spectrum and reproduce the original signal (that includes by narrowband analysis infrasound). …

Tachibana [Yokoyama S, Kobayashi T, Sakamoto S & Tachibana H, “Subjective experiments on the auditory impression of the amplitude modulation sound contained in wind turbine noise”, International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Glasgow 2015] used a set of reverberation chambers to evaluate full spectrum sound of wind turbines. However, the primary issue presented in the paper was looking at the A-weighted level with different low pass filtering and modulation. Reference [5] did not examine infrasound specifically but concluded that frequency components below 25 Hz are not audible which is to be expected for the levels that were tested. As a side issue to the investigation of the A-weighted levels and audibility of the modulation, the audible modulation effects were identified as associated with low frequency.

Walker [Walker B & Celano J, “Progress report on synthesis of wind turbine noise and infrasound”, 6th International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Glasgow 2015] provided results of generating infrasound signals synthesised from narrow band Leq analysis to find no impact. No frequency response was provided to define the output of the synthesised infrasound signal generated by a speaker. There is an assumption the system equalisation curve resulted in a flat spectrum.

Walker [Hansen K, Walker B, Zajamsek B & Hansen C, “Perception and annoyance of low frequency noise versus infrasound in the context of wind turbine noise”, International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Glasgow 2015] started with external wind farm noise samples from the Waterloo wind farm that were then synthesised from the narrow band frequency spectrum to provide the source signal.

Tonin [Tonin R & Brett J, “Response to simulated wind farm infrasound including effect of expectation”, International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Glasgow 2015] used a synthesised infrasound signal applied to a pnuematic driver connected to modified hearing protectors.

Crichton [Crichton F, Dodd G, Schmid G, Gamble G & Petrie K, “Can expectations produce symptoms from infrasound associated with wind turbines?”, Health Psychology, 33(4), 360-364 (2014); Crichton F, Dodd G, Schmid G, Gamble G, Cundy T & Petrie K, “The power of positive and negative expectations to influence reported symptoms and mood during exposure to wind farm sound?”, Health Psychology, American Psychological Association 2013] used single infrasound tones inserted into broad band noise for an assessment of “wind turbine infrasound”. …

Issues of concern with the use of simulated “infrasound” are:

Steven Cooper, The Acoustic Group, Lilyfield, NSW, Australia

171st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Salt Lake City, Utah, 23-27 May 2016. Noise: Paper 4aNS10

Download original document: “Reproducing wind farm infrasound for subjective testing – Just how accurate is the reproduced signal?

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Date added:  February 11, 2017
Australia, Impacts, LawPrint storyE-mail story

Senators Back and Leyonhjelm on government response to wind turbine inquiry

Author:  Back, Chris; and Leyonhjelm, David

Thursday, 9 February 2017.

Senator BACK (Western Australia):

… During the time since we had the inquiry, we have seen the wheels come off the wagon of the renewable sector, particularly that which resides in industrial wind turbines. You do not have to think back too far—you only have to think back to this time yesterday when, as usual, in South Australia, where some 40 per cent of energy is now supplied by renewables if the wind blows, the wind did not blow, so South Australia suffered what probably might be its fifth blackout since August-September last year. At the time, in the minds of many people this particular issue was unimportant. In fact there was a degree of ridiculed associated with this inquiry, the conduct of it and the people who were appearing. I can assure you that the people of South Australia are not laughing today. They are very, very concerned about the circumstance of a state that cannot keep the lights on and cannot keep the power up: businesses losing staff, losing money and going to the wall. This is probably not the most important in terms of overall scale, but in the big blackout in the spring of 2016 they were so ill prepared in South Australia that the airport could not operate, hospitals could not operate, surgeons had to stop operating in theatres; but, worst of all, the Flinders Medical School, which held the frozen embryos and hopes of so many families in South Australia, could not keep up the power, and those frozen embryos were destroyed. I think that is a real personal indication of what we are talking about and the impact on families that occurred.

In the time left to me I want to focus on two of the recommendations. Recommendation 14 was:

The committee recommends that the Australian Government direct the Productivity Commission to conduct research into the impact of wind power electricity generation on retail electricity prices.

It has to be done. We are getting so much conflicting information from so many different sources around this country from those who support renewables, particularly industrial-wind-turbine-generated power, to those like me who do not, although I declare myself to be a strong supporter of renewable energy, for example through solar, tide, wave action and of course hydroelectricity. But it is the case that this analysis has not been done. We are 16 years into a renewable energy scheme and nobody knows the cost.

We do know that the cost of subsidising industrial wind turbines is massive. As we draw closer to 2020 the shortfall charge payments could reach $1.5 billion a year, or more than $20 billion by 2030. Indeed, it is possible, if the policies of some of the governments of this country come into place, that we could be seeing a figure of $40 billion in cost by 2030. That is $1,600 for every man, woman and child in this country. I do not think consumers know that when a wind turbine generates electricity in this country they are paying $850,000 per wind turbine per year by way of subsidies. That is when they actually generate anything and sell any power. As I said, only yesterday we had a situation in which South Australia could not keep the lights on. The spot price for electricity hit $14,000 per megawatt hour. In any event the forward spot price for electricity in South Australia at the moment is $150 per megawatt hour, while it is only $50 in Victoria. But do not let the Victorians get any relief out of this, because their state Labor government, having made the decision to close coal-fired power stations, is also rushing towards a so-called renewable platform. I can tell them that they are rushing towards an absolute train wreck. A cost-benefit analysis of the effect of wind turbines has never been so important. The results will show that the nation, now and certainly should the federal Labor Party come to government and enact a 50 per cent renewable energy policy, is absolutely and utterly unsustainable.

The second recommendation to which I refer is recommendation 15:

The Renewable Energy Target should be amended so that all new investments in renewable energy between 2015 and 2020 will be eligible to create renewable energy certificates for a period of no more than five years—

—accepting the grandfathering of those that were already in existence. Indeed, because we have the excellent system of the Emissions Reduction Fund organised by the coalition government through direct action on climate change, we do have Australian carbon credit units. I believe and the committee believed at that time that there is a tremendous opportunity to morph from these renewable energy certificates, which at the moment are at a cost of about $88 per certificate and apparently relieving about one tonne of carbon dioxide, through to the carbon credit units, which are about $10 to $11 per unit and again are giving about one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent.

At the time, the comment kept being made, and even in its response the government said that it ‘notes that wind farm approvals are a matter for individual state and territory governments’. I have had long discussions with the federal minister. I have spoken in this place and in the public arena. If we look at the events in South Australia in the last few days and the events that we are going to see in Victoria, Tasmania and particularly in Queensland, which says that it is going to 50 per cent renewables, I have to say that the community of Australia expects the federal government to take a leadership role in the provision of safe, sustainable, reliable and economic power. It is fundamental to all Australians that this happens. The states who have undertaken this have failed, and I believe the recommendations of this report remain current today.

Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales):

I rise to speak on the government’s response to the final report of the Senate select committee report on wind turbines. I was a member of that committee and contributed significantly to both its interim and final reports. I have taken a keen interest in ensuring that those reports did not gather dust, like so many other reports have done. In fact, we had some success in getting the government to respond to the interim report. But I regret to say its response to the final report has been anything but praiseworthy.

The committee submitted its final report to the Senate on 3 August 2015. On 16 March 2016, the chair of the committee, Senator John Madigan, moved a motion signed by the Senate crossbench calling on the government to respond by 10 May 2016. No response was received, and parliament was dissolved the day before that. On the first sitting day of the 45th Parliament, 30 August 2016, I lodged a motion signed by every single member of the new Senate crossbench asking for the government’s response to the inquiry to be laid on the table by 21 November 2016. On 21 November there was still no government response. In fact, the government did not respond until 8 December 2016—16 months after the report was tabled. The required time for responding to Senate reports is three months. This is a mockery of our Senate process.

Now that it has responded, there are several aspects about its response that warrant comment. One of the priorities of the inquiry was to examine the impact of wind farms on those living and working in close proximity to them. The committee heard how some of these people were suffering ill health, that their health improved when they moved away and deteriorated when they returned. It heard how these health effects were not understood by the medical world, were commonly dismissed and that the suffering of those affected was made worse by their shabby treatment. It heard how the wind industry and its cheerleaders in the media, academia and health belittled those adversely affected. One retired academic with no qualifications or even expertise in medical matters promoted the lie that only people in English-speaking countries were claiming to be adversely affected.

Some plausible explanations were put forward to explain the ill-health effects, mostly relating to infrasound or very low-frequency soundwaves. Evidence was given that infrasound is a known cause of ill health in humans and that wind turbines emit infrasound. What we do not have is confirmation that the infrasound emitted by wind farms is sufficient to cause adverse health effects. Not everyone is affected, and those affected are not always invariably affected. As one who is easily affected by seasickness when others are not, I did not find that very difficult to understand. But, apparently, it is good enough for the wind industry, or ‘big wind’, as I describe them and their shills, to discredit those poor individuals who are made ill.

The committee also heard how the process for approving wind farms was a farce, with state policies ranging from non-existent to something that might as well not exist. It heard about: buck-passing between state governments and local governments, with nobody accepting responsibility for outcomes; how, once a wind farm is built, nobody is interested in whether it complies with its approval conditions; and that those approval conditions do not even include infrasound.

Some of these problems were highlighted in the interim report of the committee. Based on that report, I led a crossbench delegation to see then Prime Minister, Mr Abbott, to accept some of the recommendations. That led to the creation of the position of wind farm commissioner, the establishment of an independent committee to advise the minister and the commitment of funds to a proper scientific investigation of the health effects of wind farms. The wind farm commissioner has made some progress towards dealing with some of these issues. Complainants now have someone who will listen, and at least some wind farm operators now realise they should cooperate in investigating why people are getting sick. I understand they might even agree to release their operating data so that it can be correlated against symptoms. That would, indeed, be progress.

But, beyond that, very little has changed. In particular, there were some very important recommendations in the final report that have not been treated seriously by the government in its response. The government has observed that wind farm approvals are a matter for individual state and territory governments and that it, therefore, cannot address the manifest inadequacies in their regulatory regimes. This is profoundly wrong. Unless a wind farm meets Commonwealth requirements, renewable energy certificates cannot be issued. Without the certificates, the wind farm cannot sell them to electricity retailers. And selling certificates is its source of revenue. A wind farm needs the Commonwealth government more than it needs a state government. The Commonwealth is abdicating its responsibilities.

The government response says state government planning regulations require a noise monitoring regime as part of wind farm development approvals for both approval and operational stages. This is not always true. And, in any case, no state requires monitoring of infrasound. The response says the government is moving to develop national wind farm guidelines. This should be a priority, given its significance to state governments. It is a golden opportunity to address the impact of wind farms that were raised in evidence. And, yet, the government is dragging the chain.

The response says the government does not want the Productivity Commission to examine the impact of renewable energy, of which wind is the main component. Its impact on electricity prices was discussed by Senator Back in the previous address. The government says that the Australian Energy Market Commission produces an annual report on retail electricity price trends and that it does not believe further analysis is required by the Productivity Commission at this time. When is the right time to find out how much this utterly indefensible policy is costing the Australian economy or what the social harm being caused by energy poverty is? Do poor people have to die of cold or heat exhaustion before the insanity of ever-rising electricity prices is stopped?

Australia’s postwar prosperity is attributable to the fact that we had a reliable source of cheap energy. Cheap, coal-fired power is what has kept the lights on and people in jobs for over a century. It also ensured that everyone could afford to stay warm in winter and cool in summer, no matter whether they were poor or rich. That is no longer the case. How many dead people are an acceptable price for Australia’s contribution to combating climate change?

Download original Hansard: “Senators Back and Leyonhjelm on government response to wind turbine inquiry”

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Date added:  November 9, 2016
Aesthetics, Australia, RegulationsPrint storyE-mail story

What empirical research has established about wind farm visual impact

Author:  Crawford, Michael

The substantial body of empirical research now available on wind farm visual impact (VI), from
very credible and impartial teams, shows a consistent and essentially linear relationship between
turbine height, distance and wind farm VI. For any degree of VI (such as the zone of visual
influence, or threshold for visual dominance), if turbine height is doubled, the distance threshold
for that degree of impact also typically doubles.

The research based distances for thresholds for key levels of VI are many times larger than
thresholds proposed by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in its draft VI
Assessment Bulletin. The Department’s proposed thresholds are repudiated by the consistent
research findings.

The research also identifies a number of other ways in which wind farm VI assessment practices
accepted by NSW planning agencies are defective, in particular relating to the neglected
importance of blade movement for VI, the fact that photomontages tend systematically to
underestimate VI, and the assessment frameworks commonly used are too simplistic to describe
real world experience.

The NSW Government has a responsibility to reassess its draft VI Assessment Bulletin explicitly in
the context of the published research and produce proposals which it can intellectually justify in the
context of that research – which at present it cannot do.

[ABSTRACT; 6th November 2016]

Download original document: “What empirical research has established about wind farm visual impact

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Date added:  April 7, 2016
Australia, Contracts, EconomicsPrint storyE-mail story

Neighbor participation agreement with the Moorabool Wind Farm

Author:  Moorabol Wind Farm, Westwind Energy

Thank you for meeting with us on Monday to talk about the Moorabool Wind Farm.

We value all feedback received in respect of the project from you, other neighbours to the project and many other members from the broader community. We have reflected on your concerns voiced in the meeting, and have considered how we can best support your intentions to sell your property if the wind farm is built.

As part of this process, we contacted a Ballarat real estate agent to discuss his opinion on the impact of the wind farm on neighbouring property values. The agent we spoke to has 17 years experience selling properties in your area as well as properties around the Waubra wind farm. He is fully aware of the perceived impact the wind farm may have on properties, and he indicated he has no recollection of a wind farm causing a property to be sold below market value. He did indicate that it could potentially take slightly longer for the property to sell depending on the turbine locations relative to the dwellings. We advised the dwelling on the property was greater than one kilometre from a proposed turbine site, and his opinion is there will be little if any impact to the sales process or price. He also indicated rural properties in the Ballan area are in high demand from Melbourne residents looking for a sea change, as well as Geelong and Ballarat residents looking to move closer to Melbourne. We are hopeful that this information can give you some comfort that your property is desirable, in an interesting location, and is likely to be sold at market value. We would be happy to share the agents contact details with you if you would like to discuss this further with him. We also discussed fees associated with the sales and marketing of a rural property, and the services available for consultation to prepare your house for the best possible sales outcome. The agent indicated that $4,000 in marketing fees will register your property on all the major internet sales sites and list advertisements in the local and Melbourne papers. He specified that guidance on improvements required to secure the most lucrative sales price on your house is completed by the real estate agent, and this service is included as part of the 2.2% agency fees. He doesn’t know of any agencies that complete this service in your area and it is standard practice to include this assistance during the consultation process with a real estate agent.

We also discussed in our meeting that a direct financial benefit for wind farm neighbours can be achieved by entry into a voluntary participation agreement. Through this agreement, neighbours, like the host landholders, will receive a direct financial benefit from the wind farm, and in return accept some of the conditions that the host landholders also accept.

In response to your concerns as a neighbour to the wind farm, we are pleased to offer you a participation agreement on the following basic terms.

As indicated in the meeting, this agreement does not have ‘gag clauses’ or take away your right to complain about the wind farm. However, you will see in section 4.7 [see below] of the agreement, that the landholder agrees not to object to any development approval or other application or procedure made or initiated by the developer. Given the wind farm already has got a planning permit this clause is probably of little consequence for you. In addition to this clause section 9 [see below] does require the terms of this letter and attached agreement to remain confidential.

(((( o ))))

4.1(a) The Landholder acknowledges and agrees that the Annual Fee is adequate compensation and consideration for all matters contemplated by this Agreement including (without limitation) any nuisance caused by the construction, use and operation of the Wind Farm.

4.1(b) Without limiting the generality of clause 4.1(a), in consideration of the Annual Fee the Landowner agrees that the Landowner will not:

(i) require the Developer to provide any acoustic suppression or treatment measures in order to minimise any noise impacts resulting from the Wind Farm on the Property or any Dwelling or Permitted Dwelling on the Property (Acoustic Suppression); or

(ii) require the Developer to provide any landscaping treatment to the Property in order to minimise the visual impact of the Wind Farm on the Property or any dwelling on the Property (Landscaping); and

(iii) make any request under the Planning Permit:

(A) for any Acoustic Suppression or attenuation measures; or

(B) for any Landscaping for visual suppression or attenuation measures.

4.3 The Landholder shall not carry out, or allow to be carried out, any development or use of the Property that is likely to unreasonably diminish the security or utility of the Property or the Site for use as part of the Wind Farm. In particular, without the prior written consent of the Developer, the Landholder shall not:

(a) construct any dwelling on the Property additional to the Dwelling and Permitted Dwelling;

(b) erect any device to convert wind energy on the Property, other than a water pumping or other windmill no higher than 25 metres above ground level solely and exclusively for the generation and supply of electricity to the Dwelling, Permitted Dwelling or other buildings and uses on the Property; or

(c) otherwise obstruct or interfere with the potential operation or efficiency of wind turbine generators that form part of the Wind Farm.

4.6 To the extent permitted by law, the Landholder releases the Developer and its Related Persons from any damage, loss, cost, expense or Claim arising from or relating to any impact or effect of the Wind Farm on the Landholder or the Property, including but not limited to impacts or effects created by the construction, use and operation of the Wind Farm.

4.7 The Landholder must not object to any Development Approval or planning or other application or procedure made or initiated by the Developer or any other entity for any use or development of the Site or any neighbouring property that is related to or necessary for the Wind Farm, and must provide all reasonable assistance requested by the Developer for the purposes of obtaining approvals.

9(a) The parties expressly acknowledge that the contents of this agreement (and any documents or information provided by one party to another pursuant to or in connection with this agreement) are confidential and shall not be disclosed to any person except …

Download original document: “Participation Agreement – Moorabool Wind Farm

Download original letter: “Participation Agreement with the Moorabool Wind Farm – Basic Terms”

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