3 Mar 2010

New acoustics standard for wind farms

8:26 am on 3 March 2010

A new acoustics standard is being introduced with a promise that people who live near wind farms will not be exposed to unreasonable levels of sound.

The recommendations have been agreed on by a committee established by Standards New Zealand.

Wind farms are expected to be supplying up to 20% of New Zealand's power by 2030.

New Zealand Wind Energy Association chief executive Fraser Clark says the new acoustic standard will apply to all newly consented sites.

Mr Clark says the standard ensures that sound will not be unreasonable and stay within a level consistent with the sound generated by the existing environment.

The Standards New Zealand committee is comprised of community representatives, acoustic experts, planners and wind farm developers.

Dave Bennett, who lives near Meridian Energy's Project West Wind in Makara in Wellington, says the new standard only tinkers with the old one and both are fundamentally flawed.

"They work on the basis of 10 minutes averaged noise levels at the receiver. Of course in the variable conditions that apply in New Zealand, 10 minutes average doesn't mean much."

Mr Bennett wants a minimum distance set between houses and turbines.