Building community confidence in SA’s renewable energy future

The South Australian Government has committed to reaching a target of 33% renewable energy by 2020. Working towards this target, URPS provided planning support for two significant wind farm proposals in South Australia recently granted Ministerial approval – the 42 turbine Keyneton Wind Farm in the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges and the 197 turbine Ceres Wind Farm on the Yorke Peninsula. To give you a sense of scale, the Ceres project will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 225,000 South Australian homes a year, avoiding the creation of up to 2.5 million tonnes of carbon pollution each year.

Despite advice from acoustic engineers confirming that the Keyneton and Ceres Wind Farms satisfied the EPA’s Wind Farm Guidelines, noise impact remained a significant issue of concern for some neighbours during the assessment process.

The EPA has been proactive in examining noise impacts from wind farms over a number of years, most recently releasing the Waterloo Wind Farm Environmental Noise Study in November 2013 (available at www.epa.sa.gov.au).

This study determined that noise from the already operational Waterloo Wind Farm was audible periodically, but at low levels which do not dominate the noise environment and, in any event, complied with the EPA’s Wind Farm Environmental Noise Guidelines. In addition, low frequency sound could be attributed to the wind farm, but at levels significantly below the accepted perception threshold and comparable to, or less than that, generated by background noise.

The ongoing independent work of key Government agencies such as the EPA gives the community confidence that issues such as noise associated with large scale development satisfy robust and contemporary standards.