MEMBER for Burrinjuck Katrina Hodgkinson is unconvinced by the findings of a recent report which suggested wind turbines in her electorate were not breaching noise restrictions set prior to their approval.
On Friday, the Department of Planning and Infrastructure announced three major wind energy developments within the region – Cullerin Range, Woodlawn and Capital Wind Farms - had met noise limits but breached a number of other conditions.
However, Ms Hodgkinson has questioned the accuracy of the methodology used by auditors saying their findings did not accord with other published data on the topic.
“The report freely states that its findings are based only on an estimate of turbine noise and are not definitive…” she told the Post.
“As the local Member of an electorate significantly impacted by wind farms, the clear picture that I receive daily from my constituents and experts in the field is that noise remains a significant issue of concern.
“The report does nothing to explain or address these continuing complaints that I receive from my constituents about wind turbine generated noise.
“Rather than providing a definitive answer as to whether these wind farms comply with the noise guidelines, the noise audit report actually raises more questions than it answers.
“Wind farms are of questionable value in addressing environmental concerns but my main concern is the way they divide once tight knit local communities,” she said.
According to the department, measurements taken by an independent acoustic expert at nearby residential properties found that all three wind farms were compliant with their noise-related approval conditions.
However, Cullerin Range Wind Farm failed to commission a report confirming that the turbines were on stable ground before operation commenced.
Capital Wind Farm did not make monitoring and management plan documents readily publicly available or complete landscaping on residents’ properties. In addition, it failed to gain approval for a required Operational Environmental Management Plan, and undertake bird and bat monitoring, before operation commenced.
Woodlawn Wind Farm also failed make monitoring and management plan documents readily publicly available.
The department ordered all three operators to rectify these breaches immediately, which they have begun to.
The operators have undertaken the required work with the exception of the landscaping works, which are underway and are expected to be completed shortly.
The department also issued the Capital Wind Farm with a formal warning letter for failing to obtain approval of the Operational Environmental Management Plan.
Member for Hume Angus Taylor says the breaches are another example of why the government needs to review its policies in relation to the wind industries, especially the subsidies it receives that are attached to the Renewable Energy Target (RET).
“These are massive subsidies in the order of half a million dollars per turbine per year,” he said.
“I’ve been concerned about it for a long time. If certificates are being issued for non-compliant wind farms, it should be looked at closely.
I’ll be pushing to make sure this is examined as part of the Government’s review of the RET.”