Complaints Process Inadequate

30th January 2021

By Ash Bolt, The Hamilton Spectator

An ongoing bone of contention in the south-west, community group Wind Farm Living says the complaints process offered by Moyne Shire for residents, is “unsatisfactory and inadequate”.

A South-West community group has labelled the Moyne Shire’s wind farm complaint-handling process as “unsatisfactory and inadequate” in a complaint to the national wind farm commissioner, Andrew Dyer.

Wind Farm Living filed a complaint with Mr Dyer’s office on Sunday, alleging the shire had implemented “unsatisfactory and unhelpful protocols and procedures … to process noise nuisance complaints against wind farm companies”.

In the complaint, the group referred to a previous complaint made to the shire about noise from the Macarthur Wind Farm in 2019 and said the complainant “gave up in disgust” after finding the process difficult and unhelpful.

The complaint also said the shire hadn’t responded to the complaint in a timely manner.

Moyne Shire chief executive, Bill Millard said the shire had adopted a complaint-handling process to address complaints about wind farms’ compliance with permit conditions.

“When council receives complaints, we work to assist parties to find a resolution, according to council’s complaint handling policy,” he said.

“Recently, council also adopted a procedure specific to complaints about wind farms. This procedure outlines how council staff document, investigate, escalate, resolve and report on wind farm complaints.

“The procedure specifies timelines for the complaint handling process, acknowledging that complaints relating to wind farms vary in nature and complexity, and can require prolonged negotiation with a variety of stakeholders and expert advice to come to a resolution.

“Each wind farm operator has a complaints-handling procedure, and in the first instance, complainants should seek resolution of issues with the individual operator.”

While most complaints the national wind farm commissioner’s office receives relate to specific wind farms, Mr Dyer told The Spectator he had facilitated communication between the shire and the original complainant to address the noise concerns raised.

He said he was aware of Wind Farm Living’s complaint and encouraged local governments to ensure their complaint-handling process was in line with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.

He also encouraged anyone with complaints about wind farm compliance to first contact the wind farm operator and then contact his office if the complaint was unable to be resolved.

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