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Hawkesdale frustrated over input on wind farms

A proposed Western Victorian wind farm is likely to have to turn off many of its turbines at certain wind speeds and directions after they were found to be at risk of not complying with noise limits.

National Wind Farm Commissioner Andrew Dyer revealed the situation after the merits of noise tests on wind farms were questioned at a Hawkesdale community meeting on Wednesday.

Concern was expressed at the meeting that wind farm developers had appointed their own acousticians to test whether turbines complied with noise standards and that more independent experts should be used.

Mr Dyer agreed with the concern, saying using the same acoustician to check whether the estimated noise levels for turbines matched tests was “like marking your own exam.’

He said he had successfully recommended that new wind farms use different acousticians for each stage of the project. Many existing wind farms were also voluntarily adopting that approach, he said.

One proposed western Victorian wind farm had used different acousticians and auditors and found that 19 of its 60 plus turbines were at risk of not complying with the 40 decibel limit.

He expected the company would have to turn off the turbines during certain wind speeds and directions to comply with noise limits.

Another concern expressed at the meeting was about the independence of local government to represent ratepayers on wind farms when it received substantial rates from wind farms.

Mr Dyer said most complaints about wind farm noise in Victoria were handled by local government and a more independent body was needed. He suggested the complaints should be dealt with by the Environment Protection Authority.

State planning official Janet Homewood drew a howl of derision at the Hawkesdale meeting when asked if studies had been done on whether the planned proliferation of wind farms around the town could make it an undesirable place to live.

Ms Homewood said planning panels on wind farms were evidence-based and with most of the wind farms planned around Hawkesdale yet to be built, their impact on the township wouldn’t be known until the turbines were in place.