The Victorian Government is developing clear and consistent regulations for wind farm noise
Wind farms 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 new 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 noise emissions from wind farms.
On 27 July 2021, the Environment Protection Amendment (Wind Turbine Noise) Regulations 2021 were introduced to set out what wind farm operators must do to demonstrate compliance under this Act.
However, due to an omission in notification requirements under the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994, the Government has 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 will have effect for 12 months, or until replaced by new regulations.
Requirements for wind farm operators will remain the same in the interim regulations, with only minor changes to the timing of some requirements. These include:
- ongoing compliance with the relevant noise standard – no change
- Upper noise limit of 45dB or background sound plus 5 dB for properties subject to stakeholder agreements – changed from 1 August to 1 November 2021
- completing a post-construction noise assessment within 12 months of commencement of operations – changed from 1 August to 1 November 2021
- implementation of a noise management plan, including a complaints management plan, from 1 January 2021 – no change
- providing an annual statement detailing the actions to ensure compliance, from 1 July 2022 – change from due four months after end of financial year to three months
- conducting noise monitoring every five years, from 1 January 2024 – no change.
The change in the reporting period for the annual statement was reduced to three months to fall within the expiry of the interim regulations, on 26 October 2022. It is intended that this period will revert to four months in the proposed new regulations.
DELWP will conduct an additional regulatory impact statement and public consultation process, with expected introduction of ongoing regulations by mid-2022
As Victoria’s independent environmental regulator, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will be the primary regulator for wind farm turbine noise, for both new and existing facilities.
- 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.
Changes to the Public Health and Wellbeing Act
From 1 July 2021, noise and other emissions from wind farm turbines are no longer subject to the nuisance provisions of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. This has been changed in recognition of the protections provided by the Environment Protection Act 2017 and to remove duplication with the new regulations.
Changes to the Victoria’s planning system
From 3 August 2021, further changes have been 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 farm 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
The policy document, 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 farm noise
Concerns about wind farm turbine noise should be raised directly with the wind farm operator. The operator will respond according to their complaints management procedures.
If further assistance is needed, the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner can be contacted.
Page last updated: 27/10/21