Using this guide
This guide provides an overview of the requirements that apply to wind turbine noise emissions under the Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (the Regulations) made under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (EP Act). It is intended to assist wind energy facility (WEF) operators to implement their obligations and to manage the risks of wind turbine noise emissions to prevent harm to human health and the environment.
This guide provides and forms part of the state of knowledge about the general environmental duty (GED) relating to noise pollution from WEFs. It is not a substitute for legal advice about the effect of the Regulations. WEF operators should obtain legal and acoustic advice about their specific circumstances.
Background and scope
WEFs create sound due to the wind turbine blades interacting with the wind and from the mechanical equipment used to generate electricity in the turbines. This sound must be assessed as part of the planning and approval process for WEF developments. For information about the planning approval process refer to clause 52.32 of the Victoria Planning Provisions and the Development of Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria – Policy and Planning Guidelines 1 (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, July 2021).
The Victoria Planning Provisions and the Regulations require wind turbine noise limits to be determined and assessed in accordance with the New Zealand Standard 6808:2010 Acoustics – Wind farm noise (the 2010 Standard) or New Zealand Standard NZS 6808:1998 The Assessment and Measurement of Sound from Wind Turbine Generators (the 1998 Standard), depending on the planning permit, to provide specific requirements for the prediction, measurement and assessment of sound from wind turbines.
Part 5.3 of the Regulations sets out the requirements that apply to noise from wind turbines (Division 5), Commercial Industrial and Trade (CIT) premises (Division 3), music entertainment venues (Division 4) and residential premises (Division 2). The Regulations define a WEF as a CIT premises and therefore, the CIT premises assessment method in Division 3 of Part 5.3 of the Regulations and the Noise limit and assessment protocol for the control of noise from commercial, industrial and trade premises and entertainment venues (publication 1826) applies to a WEF site. However, regulation 117(1)(c)(xiv) excludes noise from wind turbines at WEFs (used to generate electricity by wind force) from being taken into account when assessing the level of noise emitted from CIT premises.
This is because sound produced from wind turbines is measured and assessed differently than other sound sources. It is generally close to the prevailing background noise level and must be measured in a wide range of wind conditions.
Wind turbine noise from a WEF is therefore subject to specific regulations under Division 5 of Part 5.3 of the EP Regulations. This guide supports understanding those regulations.
Overview of wind turbine noise regulations
Division 5 of Part 5.3 of the Regulations set out the following key requirements related to the operation of a WEF.
Enables owners and operators of WEFs to enter into written agreements with landowners about the noise limits in relation to noise emissions to the landowners' premises with which the wind turbine noise must comply (wind turbine noise agreement).
Sets the relevant noise standard (either the 2010 Standard for WEFs authorised from 1 January 2011, or the 1998 Standard for WEFs authorised before 1 January 2011 (“1998 Standard WEF”)). An authorising document2 may set out conditions that modify or replace the 1998 Standard or the 2010 Standard as the relevant noise standard.
Sets the noise limits for WEFs to be the limit determined in accordance with the relevant noise standard, or for WEFs that have entered into wind turbine noise agreements with relevant landowners, the noise limit in relation to noise emissions to the premises of the relevant landowner to be that set out in the agreement (if made before 1 August 2021), or the higher of 45 dB(A) or background sound level + 5 dB (for agreements made on or after 1 August 2021). This regulation also allows a 1998 Standard WEF to address extraneous noise in accordance with the 2010 Standard (by applying the procedures that relate to extraneous noise in section 7.2 of the 2010 Standard).
Enables alternative monitoring points to be determined by a suitably qualified and experienced acoustician. An alternative monitoring point may be used: if an on-site monitoring point is not readily accessible; or, to take measurements with less influence from extraneous noise and closer to the turbine. An alternative monitoring point may not be used for a post-construction noise assessment under r.131D. For more information on when and where alternative monitoring points can be used, visit Noise management plan.
Requires that a WEF operator must ensure that an alternative monitoring point criterion for an alternative monitoring point is determined by a suitably qualified and experienced acoustician. In determining the alternative monitoring point criterion, the acoustician must be of the opinion that an assessment of wind turbine noise against the criterion at the alternative monitoring point accurately represents an assessment of wind turbine noise against the noise limit at the monitoring point, having regard to environmental and other factors that differ between the alternative monitoring point and monitoring point. This regulation also allows a 1998 Standard WEF to address extraneous noise in accordance with the 2010 Standard when determining an alternative monitoring point criterion (by applying the procedures that relate to extraneous noise in section 7.2 of the 2010 Standard).
Requires that WEF operators manage and review the wind turbine noise in accordance with the Regulations, in order to comply with the general environmental duty under the Act (s.25). For further information on how the general environmental duty relates to wind turbine noise from WEFs, visit, The general environmental duty and unreasonable noise.
Requires a WEF operator to ensure compliance with the noise limit or the alternative monitoring point criterion, if an alternative monitoring point is used, in order to comply with the general environmental duty under the Act (s.25). This regulation also enables a 1998 Standard WEF to address extraneous noise in accordance with the 2010 Standard when assessing compliance (by applying the procedures that relate to extraneous noise in section 7.2 of the 2010 Standard).
For WEFs that commence operation on or after 1 November 2021 this regulation requires a post-construction noise assessment to be conducted within 12 months of operations commencing by a suitably qualified and experienced acoustician and in accordance with the 2010 Standard. This assessment must demonstrate whether or not the WEF complies with the noise limit, and the report must be verified by an environmental auditor. For staged commencement, the requirement must be complied with within 12 months of each stage being completed. (Note: r131BB(1) excludes alternative monitoring points from being used in a post-construction noise assessment). For more information visit, Post-construction noise assessment.
Sets out the requirement for a WEF operator to prepare and implement an NMP for their WEF. It also sets out what must be included in an NMP and that the operator must engage an environmental auditor to prepare a report reviewing the NMP. The operator must provide a copy of the noise management plan and environmental auditor report to EPA upon request. For more information visit, Noise management plan.
Requires a WEF operator to provide an annual statement detailing noise complaints, evidence that operating modes have been complied with, details of maintenance activities and noise remediation actions. The statement must also demonstrate whether the wind turbine noise complied with the noise limits or the applicable alternative monitoring point criteria. For more information visit, Annual statement.
From 1 January 2024 a WEF operator must engage a suitably qualified and experienced acoustician to undertake monitoring procedures every five years from the start of operation to ensure that the wind turbine noise complies with the noise limits or the applicable alternative monitoring point criteria. The report must be verified by an environmental auditor and submitted to EPA along with the auditor’s review. For more information visit, Five-yearly wind turbine noise monitoring.
Prescribes that wind turbine noise is unreasonable noise if it exceeds the noise limit or the applicable alternative monitoring point criterion.
r.131I Provides that a noise limit for a WEF determined before the commencement of the Environment Protection Amendment (Wind Turbine Noise) Regulations 2022, is from commencement, the noise limit for that facility as if that noise limit was determined in accordance with r.131BA.
Provides for an extension of time for the annual statement (r.131F) for the 2021-2022 financial year to be provided to EPA by 1 March 2023. Also provides that if a WEF operator provided an annual statement under the Environment Protection Amendment (Interim) Regulations 2021 for the 2021-2022 financial year, the statement for that financial year does not need to be provided again.
WEF noise - hazards and risks
Noise from the operation of WEFs can be a hazard. This includes noise from wind turbine operation and preventative maintenance activities, and noise that may result from equipment malfunction.
Any assessment of hazards and risks should focus on audible sound and consider – in addition to the usual operating wind turbine noise – any character that may increase its annoyance, and any noise emission that is unusual or out of the ordinary that might indicate a need for maintenance.
These hazards should be appropriately identified for each WEF and the risk of harm from noise must be minimised.
Individuals have different sensitivity to sound. Their personal experience is based on a range of factors, including:
- perception of their hearing
- their broader environment or context (including background noise)
- their tolerance or acceptance of sound in their environment.
The risk of harm from noise from wind turbine operation is similar to the risks from other types of audible noise – including annoyance. Annoyance is a broad term that encompasses the negative emotions and reactions that occur in response to the noise or its source. Non-routine operations at wind energy facilities may pose different risks.
Recent reviews on the health effects of wind turbine noise found there is evidence of an increased risk of annoyance (WHO 2018; Michaud, Keith, Feder and Voicescu 2016; Davy, Burgemeister and Hillman 2018), (Davy, Burgemeister, Hillman and Carlile 2020).
When reviewing the possible perceptual and physiological effects of wind turbine infrasound and low frequency noise, the Australian Government’s Independent Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines stated, ‘further scientific research is needed to discover why some people complain about being badly affected by wind turbine noise’. (Davy, Burgemeister, Hillman and Carlile 2020).
The general environmental duty and unreasonable noise
The GED (section 25 of the Act) is the cornerstone of the Act. It requires people who are engaging in any activity that may give rise to risks of harm to human health or the environment from pollution or waste to minimise those risks, so far as reasonably practicable. This requires those risks to be eliminated so far as reasonably practicable, or if that is not possible, to be reduced so far as reasonably practicable.
The Act also prohibits the emission of unreasonable noise. Section 166 of the Act imposes an obligation on any individual not to emit unreasonable noise or permit an unreasonable noise to be emitted. This applies to the emission of noise from any place or premises that is not a residential premises.
Unreasonable noise has a specific definition in section 3(1) of the Act and includes prescribed unreasonable noise. In addition to prescribed unreasonable noise, noise is assessed as being unreasonable based on its characteristics and the circumstances in which it is emitted as set out in section 3(1)(a)(i)-(v) of the Act.
The obligations to comply with the GED and avoid unreasonable noise emissions apply to WEFs. To provide greater certainty to the industry, Division 5 of Part 5.3 of the Regulations was introduced to set out what WEF operators must do to demonstrate compliance with noise emission duties under the Act.
Regulation 131H prescribes wind turbine noise as unreasonable noise if it exceeds the noise limit for the WEF or, if the noise is assessed at an alternative monitoring point, the applicable alternative monitoring point criterion.
For greater clarity on how to comply with the GED, an Act compliance note3 was included in regulations 131C and 131CA(1). These regulations set out how operators of WEFs must comply with the GED under s.25(1) of the Act with respect to wind turbine noise. Specifically, to comply with the GED, operators of WEFs must ensure that wind turbine noise complies with the noise limits for that facility and must take all applicable actions set out in Division 5 of Part 5.3 of the Regulations to manage and review the wind turbine noise.
Noise limits applicable to WEFs in Victoria must be determined in accordance with the relevant noise standard subject to regulation 131BA(2) and (3) of the Regulations. The relevant noise standard for a WEF is:
- NZS 6808:2010 (2010 Standard) for WEFs with an authorising document issued on or after 1 January 2011 or an authorising document amended to require compliance with the 2010 Standard
- NZS 6808:1998 (1998 Standard) for WEFs authorised before 1 January 2011 that have not had approvals amended to require compliance with the 2010 Standard
- the 2010 Standard or the 1998 Standard as modified or replaced by the authorising document.
In general, under the 2010 Standard and the 1998 Standard a noise limit of 40 dB(A) or background sound level +5 dB (whichever is the greater) is considered an acceptable limit for noise sensitive areas 4 (standard acceptable noise limit).
The noise limit for premises subject to an agreement made in accordance with regulation 131A is as specified in the agreement (for agreements before 1 November 2021), or the greater of 45 dB(A) or the background sound level + 5 dB (for agreements made on or after 1 November 2021).
Background sound level is determined by regression analysis of sound level and wind speed measurements in accordance with the 2010 Standard or 1998 Standard, as applicable.
Regulation 131BA (3) also allows for noise limits for WEFs required to be measured and assessed under the 1998 Standard to have extraneous noise excluded from the background noise level data set in accordance with the 2010 Standard (by applying the procedures that relate to extraneous noise in section 7.2 of the 2010 Standard).
Noise limits do not apply during construction or commissioning
The requirements for WEFs in Division 5 of Part 5.3 of the Regulations and the noise limits in the 1998 Standard and 2010 Standard do not apply during the construction or commissioning period. Noise during these phases is regulated by the relevant planning authority.
During the period between any wind turbine first generating power and the post-construction compliance assessment, the WEF operator should ensure that the wind turbine sound levels are consistent with the sound levels predicted in the approval documentation. To help manage risks of noncompliance where predicted noise levels are close to the noise limits, it is good practice to conduct initial sound level measurements following the operation of the first turbines to verify the predicted levels.
The standard acceptable noise limit is appropriate at most noise sensitive areas. The 2010 standard also describes a high amenity area (HAA) limit, to be considered in specific areas requiring a higher degree of protection of amenity related to the sound environment of a particular area in the evening or at night.
In Victoria the HAA limit:
- should apply to a dwelling located in the following zones predominantly intended for residential development: Low Density Residential Zone (LDRZ), Township Zone (TZ), Rural Living Zone (RLZ), Green Wedge A Zone (GWAZ) and Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ)
- should not apply to the Farming Zone (FZ)
- should not be applied in any location where background sound levels are already affected by other specific sources such as road traffic noise
- only applies for WEF wind speeds up to and including 6 m/s
- is applicable only when there is no agreement made in accordance with regulation 131A.
The Environment Reference Standard defines natural areas where the environmental value of ‘human tranquility and enjoyment outdoors in natural areas’ applies. In some circumstances, HAA limits may be applied to campgrounds, caravan parks and tourist establishment in such natural areas, where this environmental value is considered to be relevant.
Consistent with section 5.3 of the 2010 Standard, where an HAA noise limit applies, the base wind turbine noise limit should be 35 dB(A) for wind speeds ≤ 6 m/s at hub height. Above 6 m/s the base wind turbine noise limit should be 40 dB(A) (that is, the standard acceptable noise limit). Where an HAA noise limit does not apply, the base wind turbine noise limit should be 40 dB(A) at all wind speeds. In all cases, the relative limit of ‘background sound level +5 dB’ applies if background sound level is higher than the base wind turbine noise limit.
The 1998 Standard does not include a provision for HAA limits.
Staged developments and cumulative noise
In accordance with section 5.6.1 of the 2010 Standard, the noise limits (including HAA limits) apply to the cumulative sound level of all WEFs affecting any individual noise sensitive area. Sections 5.6.2–5.6.4 of the 2010 Standard provide guidance on how to determine and apply these noise limits.
To facilitate the assessment of potential WEF developments, or the installation of additional turbines by third parties, it is important for the WEF operator to have available:
- all background and WEF noise level measurements undertaken for the development of their project
- sound level predictions based on the final turbine layout and type
- compliance measurement reports.
This is particularly relevant for existing WEF permit holders seeking to progress developments approved based on the 1998 Standard, since the 2010 Standard explicitly addresses the cumulative effects from multiple WEFs or those developed in stages.
This is also consistent with the requirements for an NMP set out in regulation 131E(2)(a), which include procedures for the identification, assessment and control of risks of harm to human health and the environment from wind turbine noise.
Post-construction noise assessment
A post-construction noise assessment must be undertaken in accordance with regulation 131D for a WEF that commences operation on or after 1 November 2021.
Under this regulation, operators are required to:
- engage a suitably qualified and experienced acoustician to complete a post-construction noise assessment within 12 months of new WEFs commencing operation – for facilities with staged commencement, the post-construction assessment must be completed within 12 months of each stage being completed
- ensure a report of the noise assessment is prepared that demonstrates whether or not the WEF complies with the noise limit for that facility
- engage an EPA appointed environmental auditor to prepare a report verifying that the noise assessment was conducted in accordance with the 2010 Standard
- give a copy of the noise assessment report and auditor’s verification report to EPA within 10 days of the completion of the auditor’s report.
Section 8 of the 2010 Standard sets out the minimum requirements for documenting the background and operational sound level measurements and compliance assessment. In accordance with good industry practice, the general requirements of AS 1055:2018 Acoustics – Description and measurement of environmental noise, Standards Australia, 2018 should be followed, where relevant.
Regulation 131BB(1) excludes the use of alternative monitoring points and when conducting post-construction noise assessments.
Noise management plan
A noise management plan (NMP) must be prepared for the WEF in accordance with regulation 131E. Broadly, the function of the NMP is to demonstrate an understanding of the risks of noise-related harm associated with the operation of the WEF, and to document procedures to control those risks and rectify any noncompliance. The documented approach to WEF noise management should be practical, cost effective and proportionate to the risk of harm, and supported by verifiable evidence.
Regulation 131 E(2) requires the NMP to include procedures for:
- the identification, assessment and control of risks of harm to human health and the environment from wind turbine noise
- determining any alternative monitoring points and associated alternative monitoring point criteria
- assessing compliance with:
- the noise limit for that facility, or
- the applicable alternative monitoring point criterion if the assessment of the wind turbine noise is conducted at an alternative monitoring point
- reducing wind turbine noise in the event of noncompliance with the noise limit for the facility or alternative monitoring point criterion determined for an alternative monitoring point
- addressing any complaints about wind turbine noise received by the operator, including who will investigate the complaint and respond to the complainant.
WEF operators are required to:
- engage an environmental auditor to review the NMP
- provide a copy of the NMP and environmental auditor’s report to the Authority (EPA) on request
- amend the NMP if requested by EPA.
Developing a noise management plan
This guideline includes elements of current good industry practice, identified through consultation with the wind energy sector, that may be useful to include when developing an NMP, as well as expanding on compliance with the regulatory provisions:
Organisational environmental strategy (regulation 131 E(2)(a))
- Definition of organisational and other responsibilities for the measurement, assessment and management of noise emissions from the WEF.
- Requirements for reporting and recordkeeping, including document control systems, incident reporting and tracking, and records to be retained.
Regulatory standards (regulation 131 E(2)(a))
- Summary of legislative framework requirements.
- Outline of site environmental noise objectives, including the relevant consent conditions.
Noise sensitive areas and alternative monitoring points (regulation 131 E(2) (b), (c)(i) and (ii))
- Identification and justification of noise sensitive areas, alternative monitoring points, and applicable alternative monitoring point criteria, land use category and operational noise limits that apply at each of the locations.
- Map of noise sensitive areas in relation to the WEF, and alternative monitoring points.
Risk assessment and controls (regulation 131 E(2)(a))
- Operational noise modelling, including method, input data and results.
- Risk analysis and assessment, including identifying major noise sources and evaluating and assessing risks of harm to human health and the environment from wind turbine noise.
- Evaluation of likelihood and consequence of risks, development of a risk matrix and risk management approach.
- Consideration of control measures to address noise-related hazards and determination of residual risks.
EPA Publication 1695 Assessing and Controlling Risk (publication 1695) provides a framework for risk assessment.
Operational performance (regulation 131 E(2)(c))
- Details of noise measurement procedures, including equipment requirements, timing and duration.
- Wind-speed measurement locations and analysis approach for wind speed data.
- Noise level and wind-speed measurement data analysis approach, including for subjective and objective evaluation of Special Audible Characteristics (SACs), and procedures for data exclusion, where necessary.
- Approach for attended subjective observations.
- Summary of results of operational noise monitoring and compliance assessment, including at alternative monitoring points.
- Summary of baseline meteorological conditions (consistent with the compliance documentation required under section 8.3 of the 2010 Standard including atmospheric conditions (wind speed and direction, rainfall)).
Site inspection and maintenance (regulation 131 E(2)(a))
- Details of the maintenance plan and routine maintenance activities.
- Requirements of ongoing condition monitoring and inspections that may influence noise emissions.
- Procedures for unexpected (non-routine) maintenance activities.
- Procedures for scheduled inspections and monitoring.
Noise complaint management procedures (regulation 131 E(2)(e))
Reflecting good practices set out in AS/NZS 10002:2014 Guidelines for complaint management in organizations, complaint management procedures should include:
- details of how the community can lodge a complaint, including contact details
- a complaint register to record information for each complaint received, which may include:
- the name and address of the person making the complaint
- a receipt number for each complaint, which is to be communicated to the person making the complaint
- any applicable property reference number (for example when connected to a background sound measurement location)
- the time, prevailing conditions and a description of the concerns reported
- investigation and response procedures, which may include:
- a proforma noise investigation report
- procedures for the analysis of complaint data against environmental conditions and WEF operational data
- procedures for taking measurements to assess wind turbine noise levels in response to complaints
- procedures for communication, consultation, and engagement with any relevant stakeholders.
WEF operators should also consider a proactive program for contacting community in nearby noise sensitive areas to determine if there are unreported complaints.
Noise remediation procedures (regulation 131 E(2)(d))
- For situations where noncompliance has been detected (either as a result of investigating a complaint or through other routine monitoring procedures) the NMP must set out noise remediation procedures to address noncompliance and to reduce noise emissions.
Training (regulation 131 E(2)(a))
- Develop and implement a training program for employees engaged in the operation of the WEF, including the provision of information, instruction, supervision and training, particularly about their duties under the EP Act.
Review (regulation 131 E(2)(a))
- Program for review, including the development of the annual statement, five-yearly wind turbine noise monitoring and NMP review cycle.
Alternative monitoring points
Alternative monitoring points, as determined in accordance with r.131BB, may be adopted in NMPs for complaint response purposes or during five-yearly monitoring assessments monitoring activities under r.131G.
An alternative monitoring point may be used if a monitoring point for the WEF is not readily accessible, or where an alternative monitoring point is closer to the wind turbines being assessed and has less extraneous noise than the monitoring point at the noise sensitive area.
This approach is commonly adopted in environmental noise assessment of industrial facilities, particularly where it is impracticable or impossible to undertake compliance measurements at a noise sensitive receiver itself.
When alternative monitoring points are used, a well-established theoretical or empirical relationship between the noise levels at the alternative monitoring point and the noise sensitive area should be used and appropriately justified in the NMP or five-yearly wind turbine noise monitoring report. For example, concurrent noise level monitoring at the monitoring points determined in accordance with the relevant noise standard, and any alternative monitoring points, or the use of computer noise modelling, can help determine alternative monitoring point criteria.
Alternative monitoring point criteria
When an alternative monitoring point is used, an alternative monitoring point criterion must be set for that alternative monitoring point.
An alternative monitoring point criterion is the maximum noise level that cannot be exceeded at the alternative monitoring point, expressed in dB(A). This noise level must be determined by a suitably qualified and experienced acoustician so that an assessment of wind turbine noise against the alternative monitoring point criterion accurately represents an assessment of wind turbine noise against the noise limit at the monitoring point.
This means that the compliance of wind turbine noise with an alternative monitoring point criterion at the alternative monitoring point should be representative of compliance with the noise limit at the monitoring point. The acoustician must explain how the alternative monitoring point criterion has been determined and why the alternative monitoring point criterion represents the noise limit, having regard to the environmental or other relevant factors that differ, between the monitoring point and the alternative monitoring point.
These may include, but are not limited to:
- the difference in distance relevant to the wind turbine(s)
- the difference in the level of extraneous noise
- the difference in background noise levels and why there is an increase in background noise (if that is the case)
- the difference in topography
- the difference in acoustic attenuation caused by structures and vegetation
- the difference in exposure to the wind turbines
- the operational status of wind turbines at the time the alternative monitoring point criterion was determined
More than one alternative monitoring criterion may be required if:
- there is more than one alternative monitoring point, or
- multiple noise limits apply to a noise sensitive area (for example, a high amenity noise limit at night).
Auditor review/verification requirements (regulation 131E (3) and (4))
The NMP must be reviewed by an EPA-appointed environmental auditor.
Current EPA auditor guidelines are available in EPA publication 1692 Wind energy facility noise auditor guidelines.
This review should present concise conclusions about the extent to which the NMP:
- demonstrates an understanding of the risks of noise-related harm associated with the operation of the WEF
- includes procedures:
- that would be effective in controlling those risks and ensuring compliance with the noise limits
- for noise remediation if noncompliance is identified
- for complaint investigation and resolution
- justifies the suitability of any alternative monitoring points and alternative monitoring point criteria.
Regulation 131F requires WEF operators to prepare an annual statement to document the performance of the WEF over the previous financial year and provide the statement to EPA within four months of the end of each financial year.
In accordance with regulation 131F, the annual statement must include:
- details of any complaints concerning wind turbine noise received by the operator and how the complaints were addressed
- evidence that turbine operating modes complied with any relevant requirements contained in the facility’s authorising document under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (for example, where turbines were curtailed, if that was required)
- details of any maintenance activities, including any unscheduled servicing events
- details of any noise remediation actions undertaken.
The annual statement must also demonstrate whether the wind turbine noise complied with the required noise limits or applicable alternative monitoring point criteria.
WEF operators should take a risk-based approach to selecting the most appropriate method to demonstrate compliance, based on their assessment of the risk of harm from noise emissions from the WEF to determine a proportionate response. For example, where the annual statement can demonstrate the WEF is operating with no material change to the conditions that existed when it was last tested (and supplemented by the five-yearly periodic monitoring and verification report) and maintenance was undertaken according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule of maintenance, the WEF may not require additional measurement or analysis of onsite WEF sound levels to demonstrate compliant operation.
Methods to demonstrate compliance, depending on the level of risk, may include one or a combination of:
- desktop review
- report on the completion of scheduled maintenance procedures
- review of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) control system operational data
- measurements at a reference or alternative monitoring point
- nearfield noise measurements
- measurement at critical noise sensitive areas
- actions taken to address specific compliance issues if relevant, including curtailing noise emissions.
Factors for WEF operators to consider when deciding on the extent and type of information to be included in the annual statement include:
- margin of noise limit compliance established through noise assessments
- noise sensitive areas
- separation distances
- predictive noise levels
- history of complaints
- exceedance of noise limits during the period.
Five-yearly wind turbine noise monitoring
Regulation 131G requires a WEF operator to engage an acoustician to determine procedures and conduct monitoring to ensure that wind turbine noise from the facility complies with the noise limits or the applicable alternative monitoring point criteria every five years.
Under this regulation, on and from 1 January 2024 WEF operators will be required to:
- engage a suitably qualified and experienced acoustician:
- to determine the procedures to be used during the monitoring and assessment – this may include reviewing procedures used during previous monitoring and assessment events, or included in an NMP, and updating these procedures to account for changes to the environment or other factors over time
- to conduct monitoring to show that the facility continues to comply with the noise limits or the applicable alternative monitoring point criteria and prepare a monitoring report
- engage an environmental auditor to review the monitoring report
- give a copy of the monitoring report and auditor’s report to EPA.
Similar to the approach described for the annual statement, the procedures required for the five-yearly wind turbine noise monitoring should also adopt a response proportionate to the risk of harm from noise emissions.
If the procedures determined by the acoustician when undertaking five-yearly wind turbine noise monitoring differ from those contained within the NMP, the procedures in the NMP should be updated accordingly.
AS 1055:2018 Acoustics – Description and measurement of environmental noise
AS/NZS 10002:2014 Guidelines for complaint management in organizations
Davy J, Burgemeister K and Hillman D 2018 Wind turbine sound limits: Current status and recommendations based on mitigating noise annoyance in Applied Acoustics 140, 288-295.
Davy J, Burgemeister K, Hillman D and Carlile S 2020 A review of the potential impacts of wind turbine noise in the Australian context in Acoustics Australia 48, 181-197.
Michaud D, Keith S, Feder K and Voicescu S, 2016, Personal and situational variables associated with wind turbine noise annoyance in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 139, 1455.
NZS 6808:1998 The Assessment and Measurement of Sound from Wind Turbine Generators, Standards New Zealand, 1998.
NZS 6808:2010 Acoustics – Wind farm noise, Standards New Zealand, 2010.
World Health Organization 2018 Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region