A large scale wind energy facility, also known as a ‘wind farm’, is a group of wind turbines in an approved location used to produce electricity from wind. Noise from wind energy facilities is emitted from wind turbines and the associated infrastructure, such as electricity substations and electricity transmission infrastructure.
Only the noise emissions from wind turbines is regulated under the wind energy facility noise provisions. Noise emissions from substations and electricity transmission infrastructure noise comes under commercial, industrial and trade noise, which has different laws.
Understanding wind turbine noise
Wind turbines produce a range of sounds. The level of noise generally depends on the model of turbine and other factors including your distance from the turbine and topography. Topography means the natural and artificial physical features of an area.
Weather conditions can also affect wind turbine noise. Wind turbines generally produce more sound when wind speeds are higher. Higher wind speeds can also make sounds from the surrounding environment louder, which can mask wind turbine noise. This makes measuring wind energy facility noise more complex than other types of environmental noise. Noise may also be due to some form of fault with the turbine.
Wind turbine noise can also have special audible characteristics that may be annoying:
- amplitude modulation – an intermittent ‘swish’ sound, caused by a variation in sound level from the regular rise and fall of rotating turbine blades
- impulsive sounds – short duration sounds, although this noise rarely comes from a well-maintained turbine
- tonality – when you can hear a distinctive sound such as a ‘hum’ or ‘whine’, although this noise rarely comes from a well-maintained turbine.
Managing wind turbine noise
To manage impacts from noise, Victoria’s planning laws include restrictions for the location of wind energy facilities and turbines. You can also design wind energy facilities to make sure they meet noise standards. Finally, you can change wind turbine configuration and operating modes to manage wind energy facility noise emissions.
Find out more about wind energy facilities and the law.
About wind energy facility noise and your health
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has reviewed wind turbine noise studies. They recommend carrying out further research on the relationship between wind turbine noise and health, sleep and quality of life and have funded research studies on these topics.
For more information, see Systematic review of the human health effects of wind farms.
In the first instance, you should report concerns about wind energy facility noise to the facility operator. The operator will respond according to their complaints management procedures. If your complaint isn't resolved, report your concerns about noise pollution to EPA.
If you need help or have issues reporting your concerns, contact the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner (AEIC). Before escalating your complaint you should try to resolve the matter with the wind energy facility operator.
Read more about wind energy facility noise
Reviewed 5 August 2021