The Victorian Government is implementing clear and consistent regulations for wind turbine noise from wind energy facilities.
Wind energy facilities play an important role in helping Victoria achieve its emissions reduction targets and ensuring a sustainable, reliable and affordable energy future for all Victorians.
It’s important to protect the amenity of local communities and provide certainty for industry.
New regulations under the Environment Protection Act
From 1 July 2021, the Environment Protection Act 2017 introduced a general environmental duty, which requires all industries in Victoria to take reasonable steps to minimise risks of harm to human health and the environment. This includes taking reasonable steps to minimise the risks of harm to human health and the environment from wind turbine noise emissions from wind energy facilities.
On 27 July 2021, the Environment Protection Amendment (Wind Turbine Noise) Regulations 2021 were introduced to set out what wind energy facility operators must do to demonstrate compliance, specifically in relation to the ‘general environmental duty’ and ‘unreasonable noise’ provisions.
Due to an omission in notification requirements under the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994, the government decided to revoke and remake these regulations.
On 26 October 2021, the original regulations were revoked and interim regulations were made, to ensure continuity of requirements for wind farm operators. The Environment Protection Amendment (Interim) Regulations 2021 had effect for 12 months, or until replaced by new regulations.
On 18 October 2022, the Environment Protection Amendment (Wind Turbine Noise) Regulations 2022 were made, replacing the interim regulations. These regulations provide clarity for wind energy facility operators and investors and assurance for communities regarding the protection of human health and the environment from wind turbine noise. The amended Environment Protection Regulations 2021, including the new and incorporated wind turbine noise regulations in division 5 of part 5.3.
Requirements for wind enerrgy facility operators are largely the same as they were under the interim regulations. These include:
- ongoing compliance with noise limits in accordance with the relevant noise standard
- for properties subject to stakeholder agreements, an upper noise limit of 45 dB(A) or background sound plus 5 dB for properties subject to stakeholder agreements
- completing a post-construction noise assessment within 12 months of commencement of operations
- implementing a noise management plan, including a complaints management plan
- providing an annual statement detailing the actions taken to ensure compliance
- conducting noise monitoring every five years, from 1 January 2024.
Changes made to the new regulations address feedback received through public consultation in March and April 2022, and implications of the 25 March 2022 Victorian Supreme Court decision Uren v Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd  VSC 145. These changes:
- improve structure and clarity of the regulations
- designate when and how alternative monitoring points can be used, and alternative monitoring point criteria determined
- provide for wind energy facilities with New Zealand Standard 6808:1998 in their authorising document to address extraneous noise in accordance with New Zealand Standard 6808:2010
- clarify that auditor functions are to verify that any post-construction noise assessment was conducted in accordance with New Zealand Standard 6808:2010, and to review any noise management plan and periodic monitoring undertaken
- require submission of the first annual statement by 1 March 2023, to allow a transition period for the clarified requirements to take effect.
As Victoria’s independent environmental regulator, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is the primary regulator for wind energy facility noise, for both new and existing facilities.
The EPA has updated its Wind Energy Facility Turbine Noise Regulation Guidelines to help industry comply with their regulatory obligations, including where amendments to the regulations have been made.
- More information about the new Environment Protection Regulations is available at EPA.
- Information on the project and the consultation undertaken by the government is available at Engage Victoria, including a report setting out how the new regulations respond to issues raised during public consultation and to implications of the Bald Hills decision.
Changes to the Public Health and Wellbeing Act
From 1 July 2021, noise and other emissions from wind energy facilities are no longer subject to the nuisance provisions of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. This change was made in recognition of the protections provided by the Environment Protection Act and to remove duplication with the new regulations.
Changes to Victoria’s planning system
From 3 August 2021, further changes were made to planning schemes to align with the introduction of the new Environment Protection Regulations.
A key change has been to remove the requirement to place mandatory conditions for operational wind turbine noise on new planning permits. These conditions are no longer required because they duplicate the requirements of the Environment Protection Regulations. This will mean that councils will not be required to regulate these matters for new or amended permits.
Conditions of existing planning permits will continue to apply. The Minister for Planning will continue to be responsible for assessing applications and approving new permits.
With the introduction of the new regulations, it is open to wind energy facility permit holders to apply to amend their existing permits to remove these conditions. Applications to amend permits will be referred to the EPA for comment.
Policy document and amendment
Policy and Planning Guidelines for Development of Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria (DOCX, 121.8 KB), July 2021 has been updated and published to reflect the changes.
The changes to planning schemes were introduced by amendment VC206, gazetted 3 August 2021.
Complaints about wind energy facility noise
Concerns about wind turbine noise should be raised directly with the wind energy facility operator. The operator will respond according to their complaints management procedures.
If further assistance is needed, the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner can be contacted.
For more information, please send an email to email@example.com.
Page last updated: 13/12/22