The government of South Australia issued two series of "Wind farms environmental noise guidelines" in 2003 and 2009, aiming to balance the advantage of wind energy development in South Australia with the protection of amenity of the surrounding commmity from adverse noise impacts. This briefing paper sums up a study undertaken during 2011 evaluating the efficiency and adequacy of these guidelines.
Summary of the results
Documentary analysis showed that the average annual growth rate of wind power (from 2003 to 2010) in South Australia was 62.18%. This is very high in contrast to the rate of Australia (30% in the last decade) and to the worldwide rate (28.68% from 1998 to 2010). The wind power share in electricity supply in South Australia in 2010 was 19.4%, being also very high in contrast to the share of Australia (5.1% in2010 i11 six main wind power States) and to the share of worldwide (2.5% in 2010); the per capita wind power capacity by the end of 2010 in South Australia was
0.697kw/per capita, being eight times the value of Australian (0.086) and more than three times the value of worldwide (0.:201).
Survey results showed that overall more than 70% of the respondents claimed they had been negatively affected by the wind farm noise. 35% of the respondents stated they had been 'moderately affected' and 19% claimed they had been 'very affected'. In total more than 50% of the respondents indicated they had been very or moderately negatively affected by wind farm noise. This is higher than evidence gathered in previous studies: early wind farm noise research in the early 1990s in three European countries showed that the rate of residents who were annoyed by wind farm noise was only 6% to 7%. Later research in the Netherlands in 2007 highlighted that the rate of residents living within 2.5 kilometers of a wind farm who were rather
or very annoyed by wind farm noise was only 8%.
Those affected by noise from Waterloo Wind Fam1 noise experienced it about two days per week. A few respondents claimed that they had been affected every day. At the time of the survey, 39.6% of the respondents held neutral attitudes to wind energy, 35.4% held opposed attitudes and 25% held supportive attitudes. Only 20.8% of the respondents supported further wind development in the area of Waterloo while 66.7% of them held a 'no' attitude and the other 12.5% claimed 'not sure' about supporting the further wind development in their region.
The survey also showed that 38% of the respondents raised wind fam1 noise complaints to the developer; 25% to the local council; 19% to the Environment Protection Authority. 38% of the affected residents claimed experiencing health issues caused by wind farm noise, while 38% claimed they were not sure about whether their health had been damaged. Health issues mainly related to sleep deprivation and headaches. Many affected respondents took actions to address the annoyance being caused by the wind farm noise. Actions taken by these respondents are highlighted by these excerpts "moved to other areas for sleeping (resting) well when it is windy";
"had medicine or saw doctor to help sleeping well"; "installed double glazed window to block the wind farm noise"; "planted trees"; "used ear plugs"; even "played music all night" to protect themselves from the annoyance coming from the wind farm noise. Several respondents have bought property in other areas where no wind farms are established. The top two expectations of the affected residents were "turn off the wind turbine during night time" and "affected residents obtain appropriate financial compensation from wind developers".
In summary, results from this study highlight that the guidelines have not fully met their core objective in terms of the case of Waterloo Wind Farm.
Interview results showed that the failure of those guidelines to attain their core objective is attributed to some key flaws residing in the guidelines including: the lack of a clearly established integrated procedure which could be employed to tackle the local community's complaints against the wind farm noise; the failure to utilize an independent third party to conduct valid and trustworthy noise level testing procedures; and the lack of appropriate penalties to be applied if wind developers violate the terms of the guidelines.