Turnbull, C. Turner, J. Recent Developments, Wind Farm Noise, Australia

5th International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise,
Denver 28-30 August, 2013

Recent developments in wind farm noise in Australia
Chris Turnbull, Jason Turner, Sonus Pty Ltd


In recent years, the noise from wind turbines has become increasingly controversial. In Australia, continuing claims have been made that the noise causes direct health impacts. The controversy has spread to Senate inquiries, court hearings, the general media, social media and the community.

Although Australia has some of the most contemporary and onerous wind farm noise guidelines in the world, representations made opposing the approval of wind farms often include the following components:

  • claims of unethical behaviour by acoustic engineers engaged by the proponents to assess a wind farm proposal against those guidelines;
  • criticism of the noise guidelines;
  • criticism of the authority responsible for the guidelines;
  • personal accounts of health issues adjacent to existing wind farms;
  • claims that the health issues are related to infrasound from wind turbines;
  • selective quotes from technical papers relating to infrasound and health;
  • measurements of infrasound in the vicinity of wind farms.

Regulators are reacting by placing additional requirements on wind farm proponents, such as minimum setback distances, assessment of special audible characteristics and extensive background noise and compliance monitoring. These requirements result in wind farms being the most analysed noise source in Australia, despite noise levels being significantly lower than transport noise sources.

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