Glenelg Shire Council – Select Committee on Wind Turbines Submission
SUBMISSION TO THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON WIND TURBINES
March 13, 2015
Thankyou for the opportunity to make a submission to the Select Committee on Wind Turbines.
Council originally made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the social and economic of rural wind farms in 2011. This former submission:
- Outlines Council’s policies in relation to rural wind farms;
- Provides an economic profile and discussion of the benefits of the industry; and
- Details complaints from residents living nearby wind farms in the Shire.
Council submits this aforementioned document to be read along with this submission. The rest of this submission will detail concerns arising from more recent events, namely:
- In 2011, the Minister for Planning handed back responsibility to local government for the issuing, enforcement and compliance of wind farm planning permits.
- In 2014, Keppel Prince, a major wind tower manufacturer located in Portland, shut down part of their operations in response to the uncertainty around the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. This resulted in the loss of approximately 100 jobs from the Portland facility. In 2015, a report was released by Pacific Hydro Pty Ltd outlining the results of acoustic testing at the Cape Bridgewater wind farm in response to resident complaints. These tests and the subsequent report have catalysed discussions within the community around the health impacts of wind farms.
Industry regulation and compliance
There is considerable community fatigue and frustration around the regulation of the industry. Council perceives this and the lack of community confidence in the regulation as a major concern.
To address this concern it is suggested that:
- Complaints regarding wind turbines be recorded at a publicly accessible register, where all parties can record a complaint and track its progress.
- An independent authority is given powers to monitor and enforce compliance with the required standards and permits.
Council also understands that the community’s frustration extends to the perceived ‘independence’ of noise modelling assessments provided at the various stages of the planning permit process and during post-construction compliance.
To this end, Council commends the recent work of the Municipal Association of Victoria in brokering an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, which will allow auditors appointed under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to provide such a service to Councils and the wind energy industry. While the agreement is in its infancy, it is expected that access to these services will provide additional certainty to local government and the community that planning permit applications comply with relevant standards and, where otherwise, the appropriate actions to be taken.
Responsibility for the costs of auditing will need to be addressed and Council’s should be consulted on this matter.
Information on health impacts of wind farms
Council is also concerned about the lack of credible information on the health impacts of wind farms.
To address this concern, Council would like to see the National Health and Medical Research Council undertake an expedited authoritative study into the human health impacts of wind farms.
Economic and social contributions
There are significant economic and social contributions made through the construction and operation of wind farms. Please see Council’s previous submission to the 201 1 Senate Inquiry for details on these contributions . It is worthy to note that these contributions extend beyond direct employment and rate revenues. To this end, Council would like to acknowledge the significant contribution that Pacific Hydro has made to the funding of community projects, which were reportedly to the value at $650,000 in the 2013/14 financial year.
In closing, Glenelg Shire Council supports policies and processes which promote the deployment of renewable energy projects; the attraction of clean energy investment; and the creation of jobs within the Shire without posing undue risk to the health and wellbeing of its residents and ratepayers.
Council welcomes the opportunity to present its submission at an upcoming Hearing.
If you wish to discuss this matter further, please don’t hesitate to contact Acting Planning Manager Daniel Pech.
Group Manager Planning and Economic Development