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Australia continues to chart cautious course on wind farms

Human impacts, News, Wind turbines Add comments

A wind farm in South Australia has been shutting down 16 of its 34 turbines at night since last December, after a nearby neighbor complained of noise keeping his family awake at night.  This week, the state Supreme Court affirmed that the wind farm was breaking its noise limit, due to a tonal noise component, and sent the issue to the Environmental Resources and Development Court for adjudication.

The neighbor, Bill Quinn, said his mother and sister, who live near the existing turbines, had been in “absolute heaven” since the decision was made to shut the turbines down at night. A spokesman for AGL Energy said that “We understand that one of our neighbours has been inconvenienced and we apologise. We want to be a good neighbour and we’re committed to working with local communities and taking any concerns that they have about our projects seriously.” AGL is working with the turbine supplier on a “permanent acoustic treatment” to dampen tonal noise.

Several Australian states have recently moved to increase setbacks from new wind farms.  In Victoria, the Baillieu government has announced strict regulation of wind farm developments, including a minimum 2km (1.25mi)  distance from houses. In NSW, Premier Barry O’Farrell has indicated he intends to introduce similar laws. South Australia’s guidelines limit noise to 35dB in areas “primarily intended for rural living” and 40dB elsewhere, while providing for agreements with landowners to allow higher sound levels.

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