Wind farms play an important role in achieving the Victorian Government’s Renewable Energy Targets and ensuring a sustainable, reliable and affordable energy future for all Victorians.
Clear and consistent wind farm noise regulations are needed to provide certainty to industry and confidence for communities.
The Government is improving the regulatory framework for wind farm noise to provide clear, robust and fair regulation for all Victorians.
Go to Engage Victoria to find out more about the proposed changes to the regulation of wind farm noise or to make a submission.
Environment Protection Act 2017 (amended)
The new Environment Protection Act 2017 (as amended) includes a ‘general environmental duty’ which requires all Victorians to minimise their risks of harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste, including noise, as far as is reasonably practicable. As for all other businesses and industries, wind farm operators will need to comply with these requirements.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will work with the wind energy industry to support compliance with the Act.
Wind farm turbine noise
Early in 2021, the Victorian Government consulted publicly on proposed changes to the way the wind farm noise is regulated.
For more information, visit Engage Victoria.
With these improvements to the regulatory framework, the Government has also amended the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 to exclude noise and other emissions from wind farm turbines from the nuisance provisions in this Act.
Frequently Asked Questions
Until now, wind farm noise in Victoria has been regulated primarily under the Planning and Environment Act 1987, through conditions in planning permits. While conditions vary, compliance with the New Zealand Standard for Acoustics-Wind Farm Noise (NZS 6808) and noise assessments to be conducted before and after construction of wind farms is required. For wind farm planning applications made since October 2018, these noise assessments must be audited by independent environmental auditors appointed by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
The Minister for Planning is responsible for approving permits and setting conditions for wind farms through the planning approvals process. Once a planning permit has been issued, councils have responsibility for enforcement of wind farm permit conditions, including compliance with noise levels.
In investigating complaints about wind turbine noise, councils can take enforcement and compliance action under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and under the nuisance provisions of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. Others, such as neighbours to wind farms can also initiate enforcement proceedings under the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
- The new Environment Protection Act 2017 (as amended) will introduce a ‘general environmental duty’ to take reasonable steps to minimise risks of harm to human health and the environment, as well as ‘unreasonable noise’ provisions. These set principles which will apply across industries in Victoria, including to wind farm operators.
- The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will be responsible for regulating wind farm noise under this Act.
- Further changes are being developed in the planning system to reduce duplication of responsibilities with local councils.
- From 1 July 2021, noise and other emissions from wind farm turbines will no longer be subject to the nuisance provisions of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
- Further reforms are being considered to specify what is required to demonstrate compliance with the Environment Protection Act 2017 in relation to wind farm noise.
- Wind farm operators will still be required to comply with the New Zealand Standard for Acoustics-Wind Farm Noise (NZS 6808, ‘New Zealand Standard’). The noise limits in this standard are internationally accepted as appropriate for the protection of sleep, health and amenity of residents.
- With commencement of the new Environment Protection Act 2017 (as amended), wind farm operators will need to demonstrate they are implementing measures so far as ‘reasonably practicable’ to meet the general environmental duty. This will be assessed against the state of knowledge in the industry, which includes the New Zealand Standard.
Further reforms are proposed to regulate wind farm noise under the Environment Protection Act 2017. More specifically, this relates to how wind farm noise should be regulated under the ‘general environmental duty’ and ‘unreasonable noise’ provisions of the Act.
Three alternative approaches have been identified and assessed in a regulatory impact statement (RIS):
- No additional regulation – relying on general provisions within the Act
- Direct regulation – setting specific requirements for compliance
- Permissions – using a permit or other permission from EPA to specify requirements for compliance.
The RIS analysis identified that the preferred approach is direct regulation, as it is expected to provide greater certainty through an explicit and transparent regulatory framework.
The following package of requirements for wind farm operators is proposed under both the direct regulation and permissions options:
- complying in an ongoing manner with the relevant noise standard (the New Zealand Noise Standard NZS 6808);
- implementing a noise management plan, including a complaints management plan;
- providing an annual statement of actions taken to ensure compliance;
- completing a post-construction noise assessment; and
- undertaking noise assessments every five years.
The Victorian Government invited public comments on the proposed regulatory framework, including which of the regulatory approaches would be the most effective, and whether the proposed requirements for wind farm operators are appropriate.
The RIS and questions for consultation are available on the Engage Victoria website.
- The general environmental duty and the ‘unreasonable noise’ provisions in the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2017 (as amended) provide an appropriate regulatory framework for wind turbine noise, creating certainty and confidence for the wind industry and community.
- Removing wind turbine noise from the nuisance provisions of the PHW Act addresses an overlap with these provisions.
- The Environment Protection Act 2017 (as amended) commenced on 1 July 2021. Amendments to the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 commenced from the same date.
- Further reforms to regulations under the Environment Protection Act will be subject to public consultation in late 2020 and are also intended to commence soon after 1 July 2021.
- Further changes to establish EPA as the single regulator for wind farm noise will be implemented through changes to Victoria’s planning system.
- In the first instance, concerns should be raised with the wind farm operator, who should address the concern in accordance with their complaints management policy.
- If concerns aren’t resolved satisfactorily by the wind farm operator, they can be raised with the EPA.
- Concerns can also be raised with the local council or the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner (formerly the National Wind Farm Commissioner).
For more information, please read the frequently asked questions above or send an email to email@example.com.
Page last updated: 01/07/21