This important study exposes the significant flaws found in the preconstruction noise modelling produced for the Flyers Creek Wind Farm. The authors validated their findings by conducting noise surveys at an operating wind energy facility within the same region of Australia.
The Acoustic Group has performed a desk-top review of the acoustic documents comprising the acoustic assessment for the Flyers Creek Wind Farm. Further, The Acoustic Group has conducted preliminary sound monitoring at an existing operational wind farm (the Capital Wind Farm) which was approved in New South Wales on the basis of similar analyses guidelines and reports to that provided for the Flyers Creek Wind Farm. The conclusions of the Acoustic Group are set out below.
The Background Noise Monitoring Survey Report has been found to be flawed:
Noise data that has been supplied does not truly reflect ambient background levels;
- Logger positions with respect to residences and trees have not been adequately identified to enable assessment;
- One "residence" had two different logger positions;
- There are unexplained discrepancies in wind speed data;
- There is no evidence re essential wind speed correlations;
- There is no evidence that wind direction has been analyzed for correlation to background levels nominated for residential receivers.
The Noise Impact Assessment (Chapter 12, Environmental Assessment and Appendix G2 Noise Impact Assessment) has been found to be inadequate and likely to be inaccurate. They fail to properly examine:
The lack of data for the type of turbine assumed;
- An appropriate sound power level for modeling purposes that reflects actual operating turbines;
- Modulation, interference patterns, low frequency noise and infrasound;
- The impact of meteorological conditions on sound propagation;
- Identify the actual noise impact of the wind farm;
- Substation noise, construction noise and transmission line noise.
There has been found to be a fundamental inadequacy on the acoustic assessments in that they do not attempt to discuss or examine the actual noise impact for the community. Such an analysis is required by the Director-General's Requirements and by the principles contained in the South Australian legislative framework.
The adequacy of the South Australian Guidelines in protecting the amenity of the community surrounding the wind farm has been examined. Fundamental inconsistencies and omissions in the South Australian legislative framework relating to wind farm noise have been identified. There are fundamental inconsistencies and omissions in relation to Indicative Noise Levels and in relation to low frequency noise and infrasound. It has been found that the Guidelines establish criteria which conflict with their own objectives.
It has been found that application of the Sound Australian Guidelines cannot be reconciled with the New Sound Wales Protection of the Environment Operation Act (POEA) nor with the New South Wales Industrial Noise Policy. The proposed wind farm will result in the generation of offensive noise breaching the New South Wales legislative Framework.
Initial results from preliminary testing at the Capital Wind Farm have been found to confirm concerns that he Flyers Creek Wind Farm will result in the generation of intrusive and offensive node. Testing has demonstrated that the Capital Wind Farm is generating audible noise significantly above predicted levels and above levels prescribed by its consent at the residential site tested. These noise levels validate complaints of significant adverse impacts.
Preliminary testing at the Capital Wind Farm demonstrates low frequency noise and infrasound levels and fluctuation likely to impact on residents.
On the basis of the above, The Acoustic Group has found that approval of the Flyers Creek Wind Farm proposal would expose the surrounding community to intrusive and offensive noise and would leave the approval authority, land owners and the proponents open to litigation and complaint accordingly.