15th December, 2020
By Jackson Graham, The Standard
An independent acoustician will do noise assessment at the Hawkesdale Wind Farm site, preparing a background noise report for a council before the project is built.
Moyne Shire councillors at their December meeting narrowly voted 4-3 to contract their own acoustician after Hawkesdale residents pushed for noise tests by developer Global Power Generation (GPG) be independently verified.
Councillors agreed to pass an amended motion by councillor Jim Doukas, who had requested one of three acousticians he believed were independent do the work.
Cr Doukas told the meeting the council was unable to access GPG’s noise tests and should do its own. But he said the council should not employ EPA-accredited acousticians he believed lacked independence because of a work history with wind farm companies.
“It’s an insult to people to say ‘get the EPA’ when all those companies have been working from the wind farms for day one,” he said.
But councillors Ian Smith, Karen Foster and Jordan Lockett amended the motion to direct the council to simply contract an “independent” acoustician.
The council will determine the independence of the contractor at a later date, officers clarified.
Four Moyne residents addressed the meeting to speak about their anxiety over the proximity of the wind farm to the township and push the council to take more responsibility in enforcing the state-issued planning permit.
“If you put this forward you will be providing a duty of care to the people of Hawkesdale, by saying the noise testing is the best we can get it … I believe there is a potentially flawed noise assessment report sitting out there,” Hawkesdale resident John Bos said.
The Hawkesdale Wind Farm received a planning permit in 2008, and GPG says construction is now due to commence next year after the project sat idle for years and had multiple state government permit renewals.
But councillors Damian Gleeson, Daniel Meade and James Purcell opposed the council doing its own noise assessment.
Cr Gleeson said he believed the Hawkesdale community should commit to some of the cost.
“I am very sympathetic that this has been going on for 12 years. But I feel the community has let themselves down and it is only in the last 45 days they have been whipped into a frenzy, and all of the sudden it’s the Moyne Shire’s fault,” he said.
“All the presenters who have come in today have said ‘this is your fault and you should pay.’ If the community came in and said ‘we will go you halves’ … I would have no problem saying ‘let’s go at it’.”
No budget was given at the meeting for the noise tests, although Cr Doukas said it would likely cost the council between $20,000 and $30,000.
Cr Purcell also opposed the motion because he was unconvinced of its effectiveness and purpose.
“We all agree the issue is that the turbines are too close to Hawkesldae. But that doesn’t mean we have power to do much about it. Even if we go through this and get an independent assessment done, what do we do with it?” he said.
“It’s just another report.
I’m not sure what the benefit is without an end goal.”
Cr Meade also voted against the motion, saying the council already had a number of advocacy positions on shire wind farms.
“We have listened to the concerns and advocated on several occasions. We are hopefully meeting with the planning minister in the new year and we will be bringing up the concerns again,” he said.