The Australian Industrial Wind Turbine Awareness Network (AIWTAN), has written and expressed the Networks concerns many times to the National Wind Farm Commissioner.
Copied below is an open letter with 7 questions, which have not been adequately responded to by Mr Dyer.
The WHO guidelines have since been updated and these unanswered questions remain relevant ~DeFrock.
Australian Industrial Wind Turbine Awareness Network
23rd January 2017
National Wind Farm Commissioner
PO Box 24434
Melbourne VIC 3001
Dear Mr Dyer
RE: Adequacy and Ramifications of Your Investigations.
Under the terms of reference for the Wind Farm Commissioner you have been given the unique powers that in investigating complaints from residents who may provide the material concerning their impacts, there is no requirement for the wind farm operator to fully and properly investigate the claims. It appears the discretion as to what constitutes an investigation is up to you.
We have received complaints from many residents concerning the conduct of your
investigations and what is consistently expressed as a clear bias towards the wind industry in the mediation sessions. This would appear to be different to what was intended by the majority report of the Senate Inquiry.
We have also received complaints that you undertake what appears to be a very limited and cursory examination of the complaint, and without getting to the bottom of any of the issues you simply dismiss the complaint and as such close the case without any investigation into ongoing suffering that residents have been experiencing.
Until late last year acoustic compliance with respect to permit conditions for operational wind farms was based upon the New Zealand Standard (used in Victoria) or the South Australian EPA Wind Farm Guidelines (used in New South Wales and South Australia) and guidelines issued in 2016 by the Queensland government.
Serious questions have been raised as to the adequacy of those guidelines and the basis of how the criteria have been established. It is clearly the case that residents are being disturbed as a result of operation of wind farms when apparently those wind farms are compliant with the acoustic criteria set out on the permit conditions.
Senator Madigan exposed the doctoring of acoustic compliance reports by Marshall Day
Acoustics concerning the Cape Bridgewater wind farm and brought into the public awareness the nature of acoustical firms with vested interests to amend their reports to suit the client’s needs.
Similarly, matters have been raised as to the absence of compliance reports in accordance with the original permit conditions for the Waubra wind farm and that the Victorian government altered the terms of compliance when such matters were exposed in the public domain.
The Senate Inquiry into wind turbines, from which the appointment of a Wind Commissioner came about, identified serious issues in terms of the operation of wind farms and questioned the fundamental basis of the acoustic criteria that is issued on planning permits.
In 2016, in New South Wales another set of draft wind farm guidelines (wind energy
framework) was placed in the public domain with hundreds of submissions in relation to those guidelines being received by the Department of Planning and placed on their website.
A previous set of draft guidelines for wind turbines in New South Wales received many
submissions, but it would appear on a technical basis there were only some four submissions referring to acoustic matters and technical concerns with the draft guidelines.
The most comprehensive submission in terms of acoustic criteria contained in the first draft guidelines that prepared by Mr Cooper who as you are aware, is the author of the report into the ground-breaking research Cape Bridgewater wind farm.
As you are aware Mr Cooper has continued research into wind farm noise and was invited by the Director of Acoustic Standards of the Acoustical Society of America to become a member of the ASA’s Wind Turbine Working Group. We understand that you are aware of Mr Cooper’s involvement in further research work and various papers that have been presented to the ASA.
Mr Cooper provided a submission to the NSW 2016 draft wind farm guidelines issued by the Department of Planning (copy attached) where he identified the inadequacies of the guidelines with respect to a technical basis for acoustic assessment.
That submission was placed on the Department’s website.
An examination of the New South Wales guidelines that have been issued reveal that with respect to the particular matters raised by Mr Cooper there is no change in the document and therefore there is no basis for the guidelines protecting the community from adverse impacts and fulfilling the objectives that are stated.
As a result of research work undertaken by Mr Cooper in 2016 a number of questions in terms of the basis of guidelines were developed and presented by Mr Cooper to the ASA meeting in December 2016.
Mr Dyer if it appears that there is no source material to substantiate what noise levels
constitute sleep disturbance or protection from sleep disturbance in either the New Zealand Standard, the South Australian EPA guidelines, the New South Wales guidelines, or the Queensland guidelines, then please explain how you can make a decision to dismiss complaints concerning wind turbines (and the effects upon people) when you have no basis to determine the validity or otherwise of the disturbances.
It would appear that with the New South Wales Department of Planning being publicly advised of the technical inadequacies of the basis of the guidelines, and that the Department chose to ignore those relevant technical issues, then the New South Wales Department of Planning would be legally liable for any nuisance or damages claims that arise from operational wind farms that purport to be compliant with the permit conditions obtained from the wind farm guidelines.
We assume Mr Dyer you are aware of the Irish High Court decision for the purpose of damages and that there is an admission of liability by the wind farm operator as causing those damages.
Mr Dyer you are aware that the former operator of Cape Bridgewater Pacific Hydro
acknowledged that their wind farm was giving rise to disturbance and publicly stated that as part of Mr Cooper’s study they would be looking to return the acoustic environment that residents received to the pre-wind farm situation. However, at the public meeting held at Portland that released Mr Cooper’s ground-breaking study Mr Lane Crockett told the residents that Pacific Hydro were not going to change the operation of the wind farm and that basically the residents were collateral damage.
As a result of the numerous complaints that we have received concerning the conduct of the Wind Farm Commissioner in handling peoples’ complaints, then it is appropriate that where such complaints have been dismissed, that you provide the basis of the dismissal and the scientific evidence that verifies that there are no grounds for complaints.
As part of the verification process that you have undertaken it therefore follows that you must have a full understanding of the basis of the acoustic criteria contained or utilised in various states on permit conditions and how that criteria ensures the community is not adversely affected.
Having made such decisions in relation to complaints, then you should be able to automatically answer the following questions:
1. Please provide the studies upon which the wind turbine/farm criteria for wind farms you have investigated have been developed.
2. Please identify the noise source(s) that have been used in the studies related to question 1.
3. Please provide the dose-response data related to wind turbines/farms upon which the acoustic criteria are based and the corresponding level that represents 10% of the population that is highly affected.
4. The most common complaint from residents relates to sleep disturbance. Please provide the studies of wind farm noise that identify the noise level (in any relevant acoustic index) that gives rise to sleep disturbance.
5. Please provide the studies of wind farm noise that identify the noise level (in any
relevant acoustic index) that will not give rise to sleep disturbance.
6. Please provide the socio-acoustic studies of wind farm noise that identify the noise level that will protect the acoustic amenity of residents in proximity to wind farms. (N.B. The WHO guidelines are based primarily on road traffic noise and some rail and aircraft studies – no mention of wind turbines).
It therefore follows, having made various decisions/findings to dismiss complaints against wind farm operators, please identify the entity that is responsible for any class-action that may occur and the extent of liability that you Mr Dyer will also have as a result of your decisions/findings in response to the following question:
In light of the above please identify who would be liable for the consequences of adverse impacts arising from the operation of wind turbines/farms finalised in any Class action for the cases you have determined even though the wind farm allegedly satisfies the permit conditions?
The network looks forward to your response.