Australia's Wind Farm Commissioner says south-west wind proposals should only receive one planning permit extension because dormant projects cause perpetual anxiety in communities.
It comes as communities have expressed concern about two wind farms at Hawkesdale and Ryan Corner that the state government granted planning permits to in 2008 and developer Global Power Generation now says will commence construction next year.
Plans for the two projects received extensions to state permits in 2011, 2013 and 2015, before the permit was amended in 2017 and extended again until 2023.
Wind Farm Commissioner Andrew Dyer has made recommendations that a project should only be granted one planning permit extension, unless exceptional circumstances cause a delay.
"If you haven't got it done in that amount of time, tough. I am very clear on these matters," Mr Dyer said.
"Everyone has this cloud of over them. Whether you're a host landowner, neighbour or community member - you just don't know what's going to happen. It can create anxiety ad infinitum."
But he said Victoria's Planning Act and case law favoured extensions being granted.
"Unless there is overwhelming considerations to the contrary the minister is generally obliged to grant the permit extension," Mr Dyer said.
Meanwhile, legislation to move complaints about wind farm noise from the Public Health and Wellbeing Act to the new Environmental Protection Act has passed Victoria's legislative assembly but is yet to be debated in the upper house.
The move was opposed by opposition MPs including the South West Coast's Roma Britnell who said it removed the ability for community members to make complaints related to health through their local council.
But Mr Dyer, who had supported the move, said he supported the change because it took some responsibility away from councils and brought Victoria into line with other states.
"Councils already have a huge workload, from roads to rubbish collection. To add the need to keep the wind farm compliant is a significant, additional, burden," he said.
"Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, council must investigate any nuisance complaint, therefore council must have a policy and procedure to carry out the investigation. Many councils don't have these in place which is a gaping hole."
The Hawkesdale community is pushing for Moyne Shire Council to do its own background noise testing before the Hawkesdale Wind Farm is constructed.
Moyne Shire councillor Jim Doukas has filed a motion to ask the council to contract its own acousticians.
Cr Doukas said the tests could then be compared to those used by developer Global Power Generation to check for anomalies.
Cr Doukas said the council needed to do its own background noise testing to be sure the project would not breach the planning permit.
"If the council undertakes its own independent testing, that can be compared to the wind farm companies testing and if there are anomalies, we could then argue the case they haven't done it properly," he said.
"There are three independent contractors named in the recommendation. These three have never done work for the wind farm companies."
Wind farms in Victoria follow the the New Zealand Noise Standard for wind farms. The NZ standard requires the sound output from the facility alone to be below 40 decibels.
However, if background noise such as wind noise exceeds 40 decibels then the standard allows the wind farm to exceed the background noise by no more than five decibels.
Cr Doukas said he did not have a firm cost for the testing but expected offices would be able to give councillors a ballpark estimate before they debated his motion on Tuesday .
Mr Dyer said he would prefer to see the wind farm company commit to have its noise testing audited by an EPA accredited auditor, a planning requirement for new projects from October 2018, that came into effect after the wind farm was approved.
"I think this proposed motion could be taking council into an area of planning that would be beyond their jurisdiction," he said.
"I would completely support council encouraging the proponent, as part of the proponent being a good corporate citizen, engaging an EPA accredited auditor to audit the predictive noise assessment report, which includes the background noise data collection and analysis.
"Particularly in light of the proponent being granted extensions - a good corporate citizen would voluntarily comply with the new regulations issued by the EPA."
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