A wind energy facility, also known as a wind farm, is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electricity. Noise from wind energy facilities comes from either the wind turbines or the substations and electricity transmission infrastructure.
While wind turbine noise comes under wind energy facility noise, substations and electricity transmission infrastructure noise doesn’t. It comes under commercial, industrial and trade noise, which has different laws.
Understanding wind turbine noise
Wind turbines produce a range of sounds. The sounds depend on the type of turbine and your distance from it.
Weather conditions can also affect wind turbine noise. Wind turbines 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.
Wind turbine noise can 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’.
Managing wind energy facility noise
To manage impacts from noise, Victoria’s planning laws include restrictions for the location of wind energy facilities. 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.
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) 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.
For more information, see Systematic review of the human health effects of wind farms.
You can report wind energy facility noise to the wind energy facility operator, your local council or the National Windfarm Commissioner. Before making a complaint to the Commissioner, you should try to resolve the matter with the wind energy facility operator.
Read more about wind energy facility noise
Reviewed 22 December 2020