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Two Acoustics Australia letters re: wind turbine noise  

Author:  | Australia, Noise

I wish to respond to the strident criticism of Steven Cooper’s article published in Acoustics Australia Vol. 40, No. 2, pp 139-143 (2012). It is disappointing that the respondents, all senior members of the AAS, seem to have misunderstood Mr Cooper’s article and appear to have responded in an ill considered fashion and not in the context of ensuring that the profession ensures that the issue of noise from wind farms is properly and adequately considered in the same manner as noise from other sources has been in the past.

The main points of Mr Cooper’s article are:

  • that there has been insufficient study conducted on the effects of wind farm noise to enable the profession to confidently and adequately walk the fine line between balancing the competing needs of the community to have productive industries without paying too high a price in environmental impact.


  • that published assessment criteria are being used to make evaluations of community impact which based on the existing available information seem likely to be flawed.

Mr Cooper is also concerned, quite rightly in my view, that the un-certainty in the prediction of human response that results from a shortage of detailed and reliable scientific knowledge is not acknowledged in the assessment documents. If an uncertainty arises due to a lack of scientific evidence it must be considered by the assessors of the application in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and the relevance and application of the “Precautionary Principal” must be evaluated. If a technical assessment document does not disclose uncertainty then the planning assessor would correctly accept that there is no significant uncertainty in the outcomes expressed in the technical assessment. In the case of Industrial Wind Turbine farms the acceptance that there is no significant uncertainty would be erroneous at best and there may be some potential for any consent based on such a noise impact assessment to be found to be invalid. Given the nature of the planning review system it is likely that an invalid consent may not be identified or determined by court until after the IWTs are constructed. The consequences of an invalid consent for the client of an acoustician who made the assessment upon which planning consent is invalidated are truly terrifying.

It seems beyond dispute that the community has a high level of concern with wind farm noise. A recent health study by Nissenbaum et al. clearly indicates that there is much work yet to be done in understanding the human response to Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs). …


[1] NSW Planning and Infrastructure, Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/ nsw/consol_act/epaaa1979389/

[2] M.A. Nissenbaum, J.J. Aramini and C.D. Hanning, “Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health”, Noise Health 14, 237-243 (2012)

[3] J. Cooper, T. Evans and L. Najera, “Comparison of compliance results obtained from the various wind farm standards used in Australia”, Acoustics Australia 40(1), 37-44 (2012)

[4] Australian Standard AS 4959:2010 Acoustics – Measurement, prediction and assessment of noise from wind turbine generators

[5] R. Tonin, “Sources of wind turbine noise and sound propagation”, Acoustics Australia 40(1), 20-27 (2012)

[6] T. Evans and J. Cooper, “Comparison of predicted and measured wind farm noise levels and implications for assessments of new wind farms”, Acoustics Australia 40(1), 28-36 (2012)

[7] C.J. Doolan, D.J. Moreau and L.A. Brooks, “Wind turbine noise mechanisms and some concepts for its control”, Acoustics Australia 40(1), 7-13 (2012)

[8] C. Tickell, “Low frequency, infrasound and amplitude modulation noise from wind farms – some recent findings”, Acoustics Australia 40(1), 64-66 (2012)

[9] B. Thorne, “Finding the character of wind turbine sound”, Acoustics Australia 40(1), 62-63 (2012)

[10] R. Tonin, Letter to the Editor, Acoustics Australia 40(3), 167- 168 (2012)

[11] T. Marks, C. Delaire, J. Adcock and D. Griffin, Letter to the Editor, Acoustics Australia 40(3), 168 (2012)

[12] K. Burgemeister, Letter to the Editor, Acoustics Australia 40(3), 169-171 (2012)

Ray Tumney, RCA Australia, Newcastle, NSW
Acoustics Australia, Vol. 41, No. 1, April 2013, pages 8-10

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The [wind farm noise] debate in Acoustics Australia has quite rightly continued; rightly because the debate has not reached a conclusion matching all the available information. In drafting this I found it easier to set it out as numbered points for which I hope readers will forgive me. …

Graeme E. Harding, F.AAS, M.ASA, M.AIRAH, M.IIAV, Donvale, VIC
Acoustics Australia, Vol. 41, No. 1, April 2013, pages 10-11

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Cooper AAS ethics article

This material is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this material resides with the author(s). As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Queries e-mail.

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