Wind farm noise
Article: wind farm noise and your community
As the wind blows
It is important to balance the advantage of developing wind energy projects in South Australia with protecting the lifestyle of the surrounding community by preventing nuisance noise.
Wind farms need specific guidelines because wind turbines have unique noise-generating characteristics and the environment surrounding wind farms usually have low ambient or background noise.
The Wind farm environmental noise guidelines can help developers, planners, regulatory officers and the broader community assess environmental noise impacts from wind farms.
A unique characteristic of wind farms is that the noise level from each wind turbine generator (WTG) increases as the wind speed at the site increases. As an offset, the background noise also generally increases under these conditions and can mask the WTG noise.
The new guidelines have set acceptable noise levels based on the locality of the wind farm development. The maximum permitted decibel levels of noise will depend on whether the location is primarily intended for:
- rural living
- primary production/rural industry, eg animal keeping, commercial forestry, viticulture, crop growing, etc
- the assessment of the background noise.
The guidelines advise that noise assessments take into consideration prevailing weather patterns and local topography (hills and valleys). This is important because turbine noise levels may be higher in sheltered, less windy locations even if they are some distance away from the wind farm.
The EPA recognises that there will be natural variations in background noise throughout the year, with different prevailing wind directions, leaves on trees, atmospheric conditions and possibly with changes to local conditions such as buildings, trees or topography that may affect compliance with decibel levels. It is the responsibility of the developer or current operator of the wind farm to manage noise in a reasonable and practical manner.
Where excessive noise from a wind farm has been identified, an Environment Protection Order under the Environment Protection Act 1993 may be issued to secure compliance with the criteria in the guidelines.
For further information please visit www.epa.sa.gov.au or free call 1800 623 445.