May 31, 2011

Debate over Tableland turbine noise reports

Tony Stickley, 31 May 2011

Wind farm protesters in the Walkamin area are watching closely to see how Tablelands Regional Council reacts to conflicting noise reports from another wind farm proposal near Ravenshoe.

Transfield Services’ plans for 17 turbines at High Rd, Tumoulin, near Ravenshoe are due to go before the council tomorrow.

Transfield says the noise would be equivalent to a quiet suburban street but Dr Bob Thorne, of Noise Measurement Services, has analysed data from Transfield’s noise experts and has “real concerns”.

“From experience, an outdoor sound level of around 32dB (A) (A is a weighting to filter out the low frequency part of the noise) is sufficient, under conditions of light breeze, to cause annoyance and sleep disturbance to persons who sleep with the windows open,” Dr Thorne said.

He said many homes would be “adversely affected for much of the time under varying wind conditions”.

“The information provided (by Transfield’s noise experts, Noise Mapping Australia) is cause for real concern that wind farm noise will adversely affect people living in the vicinity … and that nuisance conditions – sleep disturbance, for example – will occur on a regular basis.“

In its promotional material for the High Rd wind farm, Transfield says the widely accepted requirement for wind farms is for noise levels at residential dwellings to be no more than 40 decibels or 5dB above background noise levels.

But Transfield is using guidelines from the South Australia Wind Farm Environmental Noise Guide.

Queensland’s Environmental Protection Policy has a goal of nighttime noise at or below 30 dB (A) indoors.

Noise Mapping Australia says that is equivalent to 35dB outside.

A Transfield spokesman said the EPP guidelines were not acceptable for wind farms due to the potential for existing background noise to be above the “acoustic quality objectives”.

“Hence the use of the SA guidelines,” he said.

Lee Schwerdtfeger, a resident concerned about an even larger wind farm proposed near Mt Emerald, said that according to scientific literature, an increase of 5dB was perceived as 50 per cent louder.

URL to article: