By Michael Giles
THERE can be no doubt that at certain times, in certain conditions, the noise, vibrations and/or mechanically-altered wind sounds created or enhanced by the massive wind turbines at Walkerville are intolerable for nearby residents.
The technical report commissioned for the South Gippsland Shire Council, by highly experienced independent public health consultants James C. Smith and Associates, says as much.
And in the absence of any technical data from another independent source, you’d think council would have to find in favour of the local landowners when they come to make their decision early in February, that there is indeed a nuisance being caused.
The Smith report notes that the experience of its own investigators corroborated what the residents had been complaining about over a long period of time when the noise coming from the turbines, in July last year, intruded on the conversation between the investigator and the farming couple interviewed.
“It seems likely then that such noise could be heard over a television, or radio as had been recorded in some noise logs, and reported in discussions with Mr and Mrs Jelbart, and Mr Uren,” he said.
“It is clear from the investigation that noise from the wind farm is audible within residences although there are noise monitoring reports stating that there is compliance by the wind farm with permit conditions and the New Zealand Standard 1998, and with a noise mitigation strategy in place at the wind farm.”
So, you could have intolerable noise that still complies with the standards.
Log book notes by the wind farm neighbours including “woken up at 4am”, “woken up at 2am roaring sound”, “woken up at 4am roaring/rolling noise” and “woken up at 3.30am couldn’t get back to sleep, got up at 7am could still hear noise through radio” are of great concern.
The difficulty for the shire council is that while the operator of the wind farm is allegedly complying with the condition of operation, a nuisance is still being caused.
Regardless of the rule, these people have a right to sleep at night and it’s time the council came up with a decision which backed the residents rather than the interests a large finance firm or the State Government.
Mistakes were made with the planning, in the construction phase and with the adequacy of the rules applying to the facility’s operations but local landholders, who are not receiving any of the benefits, should not be made to suffer.
And it’s time someone said so. Over to you our elected councillors.