Federal senator John Madigan has accused the Clean Energy Regulator of “washing its hands” of evidence the Waubra wind farm had failed to comply with regulated noise standards.
The Democratic Labour Party senator said it was not good enough for CER chief executive Chloe Munro to shift responsibility for shutting down energy providers if evidence of non-compliance existed.
Senator Madigan had grilled Ms Munro on what he described as “systemic regulatory failure” at the Waubra wind farm, during a Senate Estimates hearing.
He said non-compliance by wind farm operator Acciona was evident in ministerial briefing notes to Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy obtained by Senator Madigan’s office via the Freedom of Information Act.
One briefing note obtained by Senator Madigan advised Mr Guy of the existence of “special acoustic characteristics” from the Waubra wind farm impacting properties near the facility and that “DPCD (Department of Planning and Community Development) and EPA (Environment Protection Authority) remain concerned that noise compliance has not been achieved”.
“It’s simply not good enough for the organisation responsible for regulating clean energy operators in Victoria to wash their hands of this issue when there clear evidence of non-compliance at the Waubra wind farm exists,” Senator Madigan said yesterday.
“I would’ve thought that one of the key tasks of the CER would be to act on non-compliance issues within the clean energy sector, but it appears not.”
Senator Madigan said he provided documentation of Acciona’s non-compliance to Ms Munro during Monday’s Senate Estimates hearing, as well as highlighting previous correspondence he had with the CER, before demanding to know why its accreditation had not been suspended.
Ms Munro said it was a decision for the state.
“We have had no evidence from them that there is a determination to suspend their planning accreditation for contravention of their approval requirements and their permit conditions,” Ms Munro said.
Meanwhile, Senator Madigan received a copy of the petition from Waubra community members yesterday asking for the Waubra Foundation to remove the town’s name from its title.
The Waubra Foundation is an organisation that promotes the interests of residents who report health issues from living near wind turbines.
Waubra resident Kerryn Gallagher said in a statement Senator Madigan had listened to the pleas of people from the town.
“Wind farm sound is just a part of our landscape now.
“It’s not excessive and it doesn’t bother us,” Ms Gallagher said.
Waubra farmer Doug Hobson said he acknowledged compliance had not been finalised but “we don’t see this as a barrier for the foundation to drop our name right now”.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding