THE state government is considering a request from Moyne Shire Council for more stringent testing of wind speed and background noise prior to construction of the Mortlake south wind farm.
It follows community calls for full disclosure to alleviate concerns about possible health effects from the proposed 51-turbine project.
Letters from the shire have been sent to the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) and energy company Acciona seeking raw data rather than the usual summary information.
The council has been told the department is considering improving noise compliance rules after controversy over other wind farm projects.
Councillors voted unanimously last month to ask Acciona to give the department all the raw data collected on wind speed and background noise so the information could be independently reviewed by department experts.
It is understood noise testing was due for completion this month as part of the company’s planning permit conditions.
A department spokeswoman told The Standard this week it was assessing the need to seek raw data and other information.
“The department continues to monitor and enforce all planning permit conditions that the Minister for Planning is responsible for,” The Standard was told.
Acciona said it would comply with its planning permit conditions.
Five property owners in the tight-knit farming area where the turbines would be located have already paid for independent noise tests which they hoped would enable comparisons with Acciona’s data.
However, Acciona informed them its equipment had broken down in the timespan when the independent tests were carried out.
The company claimed it was not aware of the residents’ tests until after they were completed, but two residents have sent The Standard email correspondence with Acciona indicating otherwise.
Moyne Shire councillor Bernie Harris, who lives nearby at The Sisters, said it appeared Acciona was reluctant to disclose the facts.
“We are trying to get them to play ball,” he said.
“Residents are concerned that noise testing is being conducted on 1998 standards, meaning it will be built to the same noise standards as Waubra.
“From the shire’s point of view we don’t want to end up with a big fight that went on at Waubra with noise.
“The minister owns the project and if the government doesn’t get it right we don’t want it.”
Councillors have been told wind test data was usually provided in a summary report and that members of a community engagement committee wanted a more robust independent review by the department.
“The entire committee (which represents the community, council and Acciona) expressed great concern over the need for all parties to fully understand the noise compliance assessment and peer review processes that DPCD intends to undertake for the Mortlake south wind farm,” the council was told.
“Officers have been advised the DPCD is looking to review and improve the noise assessment and compliance process as a consequence of lessons learnt from other projects.”