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Ballarat district wind farm project holds a noise demonstration

The Lal Lal wind farm project held a turbine noise simulation on Tuesday evening to demonstrate how loud the farm is expected to be

Company representatives, including an expert from Sonus, an acoustic consulting firm, answered questions from residents as a PA system played a field recording of a wind farm operating at maximum capacity, at the Bungaree Recreation Reserve.

Markers placed on the ground indicated how loud the noise was at certain points, up to 45 decibels at the closest point.

Regulations state wind farms must not be louder than 40db at a residence.

The field recording had been modified using a graphic equaliser to simulate the conditions accurately.

Standing at the 40db point, which was described as the equivalent to the farm being about 800 metres away, the noise was present but soft, with no whooshing or strobing.

Turbines will be about 800m away from dwellings at their closest point.

A project spokesperson said community members experienced the simulation at different setback distances, including the expected noise levels at their own residences.

“Prior to the community members arriving, the system was calibrated and the frequency spectrum was refined to accurately reflect the noise likely to be experienced at residences,” the spokesperson said.

“The simulation provides an accurate indication of the combined effect of all turbines at various distances.

“This demonstration was arranged by Lal Lal Wind Farms at the request of the community and is not a planning permit requirement.”

Lal Lal Environment Protection Association’s John McMahon said the group had requested the demonstration, so people would know what the regulation level would be.

He said there were concerns about who would monitor noise levels once the wind farm was built and how, and what the consequences there would be for breaches.

“There’s 2000 people within 5 kilometres of the Lal Lal wind farm,” he said.

“With a bit of planning and policing, it has the potential to be a reasonable project, but they’re not in place yet.

“If the (noise) assessment is wrong, the procedures to detect and follow-up are poor.”

Moorabool Shire Council has a dedicated wind farms liaison for the community.

Growth and development general manager Satwinder Sandhu said the operator will be responsible for the noise compliance of the wind farm once construction is finished.

“The planning permit stipulates a number of conditions that must be adhered to with regards to noise, and there are State Government endorsed documents outlining what monitoring is required,” he said.

Lal Lal Wind Farms intends to continue holding community meetings next year to provide updates on construction, as well as consulting with the community reference group.

The current plan includes 60 turbines at two locations around Lal Lal, south of Ballarat, generating about 216 megawatts, while a separate project will build 107 turbines, with a capacity of 321MW, at Moorabool North and South, south of Ballan.

The Moorabool project is expected to be commissioned in late 2019, while the Lal Lal project will begin construction in mid-2019. The nearby Yaloak wind farm was completed earlier this year.