Ill wind blows at Bald Hills


Ill wind blows at Bald Hills

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council may not accept there is nuisance noise generated by turbines at Bald Hills Wind Farm, despite an independent consultant confirming turbine noise is stressing neighbours and impacting their health.
Council CEO Tim Tamlin last Thursday told The Star the only party who can determine if there a nuisance noise was council, by law, as it has authority for enforcing wind farm planning permit conditions, including noise.
He said the consultant, James C. Smith and Associates, had just “perceived there is some sort of nuisance at two of the properties (owned by wind farm neighbours), but that does not mean there is nuisance noise”.
“It’s very subjective,” Mr Tamlin said.
The CEO’s view comes despite reports of wind farm neighbours suffering headaches and interrupted sleep, and not even being able to hold a conversation in their own homes without being disrupted by turbine noise.
The consultant was appointed by council at the order of the Supreme Court, after council environmental health officers claimed there was no nuisance noise at the wind farm after responding to complaints by wind farm neighbours.
Council was taken to the Supreme Court by the neighbours in a bid to force action that would mitigate the noise and improve their quality of life.
Council will determine its next move after receiving a response to the noise report from Bald Hills Wind Farm and the neighbours’ legal firm DST Legal of Melbourne.
The matter could be debated by councillors at the October council meeting.
Mr Tamlin said he felt the initial investigation by council officers was adequate.
“Our staff went out there and did their report, and the wind might have been blowing differently. It’s so subjective,” he said.
Mr Smith’s report cost council $33,600, with additional legal and sundry costs to be determined.
Council could face further costs if the court orders council to pay the neighbours’ legal fees.
Mr Tamlin said while council was obliged to follow State Government acts relating to wind farm compliance, he did not personally feel that spending tens of thousands of ratepayers dollars on the legal action and subsequent report was the best way to use that money.
Mr Tamlin said the consultant’s report showed an “apparent disconnect” between the Planning and Environment Act and the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.
He said while wind farm operators may comply with their obligations under the Planning and Environment Act, nuisance noise could still be perceived by neighbours – an issue covered by the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.
“I think the two pieces of the State Government legislation need to be looked at and in the future when a wind farm is approved in the planning scheme, the public health and wellbeing impacts should also be considered,” Mr Tamlin said.
“I would suggest – again – that this is something the Victorian Government needs to resolve, for the sake of the renewable energy sector and all those involved in the establishment of wind farms.
“If this apparent conflict between the two pieces of legislation did not exist, our residents would not find themselves in this predicament today.”
Mr Tamlin said the wind farm had been complying with noise limits under its planning permit.

Not clear cut: noise or no noise that is the question being posed at the Bald Hills Wind Farm site.

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Posted by on Sep 18 2018. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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