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Environment
Sustainability Performance Report 2012 83
Environmental Risk
Noise
The generation of noise is an unavoidable characteristic
of some of AGL’s business activities, notably generation
of electricity, and drilling undertaken as part of
upstream gas projects. Many of AGL’s projects involve
development of rural land that is already occupied
and used for other purposes by third parties. The
management of noise impacts is vitally important in
such settings, where background noise levels are low
and amenity expectations are high.
Approach
AGL’s coal seam gas projects involve drilling wells to extract
methane from coal formations deep below the ground. Due to
operational requirements, such as the availability of drilling teams,
sometimes drilling needs to be undertaken 24 hours per day, seven
days per week. A number of activities are undertaken to minimise
the likelihood of offsite noise impacts associated with drilling
operations. For example, well locations are selected to avoid the
likelihood of causing impacts to sensitive receivers where possible,
and acoustic noise walls can be erected on the perimeter of the
drill site if necessary. At sensitive sites, noise monitoring is also
undertaken to ensure drilling operations remain below regulatory
compliance limits.
AGL’s wind farm projects are typically constructed on land that is
used for agricultural purposes. A standard condition of the necessary
development consents is that both pre- and post-construction noise
monitoring is undertaken to ensure that, once operational, the wind
farm meets relevant noise requirements.
We take any community concerns about noise issues very
seriously, and have processes in place to ensure a prompt response
to any concerns raised. We are committed to working with the
local communities in which we operate, and to ensuring that our
operations meet all regulatory requirements.
Performance
During FY2012, AGL worked proactively with the wind turbine
supplier for the Hallett Hill Wind Farm (Hallett 2) to address an
audible tone that we had detected at a residence during certain
wind conditions.
A permanent acoustic treatment was developed by the turbine
supplier and installed in late 2011. Prior to implementation of this
permanent acoustic treatment output at the site was curtailed,
with 16 of the wind turbines shut down at night. AGL undertook
comprehensive noise testing in early 2012 to confirm that the tone
was no longer audible at the residence. We continue to work with
the turbine supplier to ensure that a similar solution is rolled out
across our fleet of similar turbines which may have similar tonal
characteristics.
While the Bluff and Oaklands Hill wind farms are compliant with
noise requirements, we are working with the turbine supplier to
develop a permanent acoustics treatment to address tones from the
turbines that are occasionally audible at nearby residences in certain
wind conditions. We have voluntarily implemented operational
constraints on some turbines at Oaklands Hill wind farm while the
acoustic treatment is being developed. We have kept the South
Australian and Victorian Environment Protection Authorities (EPA)
informed of the steps we have been taking.
Post construction compliance noise monitoring at the North Brown
Hill wind farm detected a tone that was occasionally audible at a
neighbouring residence during certain wind conditions. A permanent
acoustic treatment is being implemented at the wind farm, and we
have communicated developments to our neighbouring resident
and the South Australian EPA.