Greens MP: 2km buffer for turbines ‘silly and arbitrary’

From the Melton Weekly, by Neelima Choahan, 05 Apr, 2011

Turbine buffer limit ‘silly, arbitrary’

A TWO-kilometre buffer zone for wind farms will not protect houses from excessive noise, according to Victorian Greens MP Greg Barber.

Speaking to the Weekly, the upper house MP said the figure identified by the state government as part of changes announced last month was a “silly, arbitrary number”.

“I could be upwind behind a hill with a six-lane freeway between me and the wind farm and still be two kilometres away,” he said.

Mr Barber’s comments come in the wake of a Senate inquiry into wind farms.

The Senate met in Ballarat and Melbourne and concluded its inquiry in Perth on Thursday.

The federal government-initiated inquiry investigated the social and economic impacts of rural wind farms, in particular possible adverse health effects for people living nearby.

It also examined concerns over the excessive noise and vibrations emitted by wind farms and their impact on property values, employment opportunities and farm income.

Mr Barber, who attended the Melbourne leg of the inquiry, said a noise standard developed in New Zealand and adopted in Victoria was a more practical way of measuring noise pollution.

New Zealand uses a noise assessment tool to determine which pre-existing ambient background sound levels are exceeded by wind farm noise.

Mr Barber said a 40-decibel sound limit may or may not equate to two kilometres and was more dependent upon the direction of the house in relation to the wind farm.

“I challenge the contention that two kilometres is a magic number,” he said.

Moorabool mayor Pat Griffin agreed that more scientific research was needed into the effects of low-frequency noise.

“It does depend upon environmental conditions, which way wind is blowing, whether you are on top of the hill or top of the valley, whether you have cloud cover,” he said.

But having last month welcomed the new guidelines, the mayor called on the Greens MP to come up with a better alternative.

“Maybe we should be making it five kilometres. It’s all fine for Mr Barber to say the two-kilometre limit has no scientific standing; maybe he should go and visit the people affected.”

The council has asked Planning Minister Matthew Guy to overturn a three-turbine wind energy development at Pykes Hill under its two-kilometre guideline.

Two wind farms on the outskirts of Moorabool were approved last year by the previous government.

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