Changes to Griffith City Council's frost control fan policy have been adopted, but not before questions as to how users would be kept compliant were fielded at a meeting of council.
The revised policy went before council on Tuesday, with a major addition to the policy the requirement of a noise management plan for anyone looking to operate a frost fan in the local government area.
The plan must be provided to council and all adjoining and adjacent residents within one kilometre of the property where the fans are installed.
However, deputy mayor Doug Curran raised whether council was doing enough to satisfy those who seek to complain about the use of the fans.
"I think we just need to give reassurance to the residents that we will take their complaints seriously," Councillor Curran said.
"Some of their assertions in their submissions were that they weren't getting responded to, that one of their responses was to contact the user ... one of the objectors raised that they didn't feel we were robust enough in their ability to complain.
"We need to give surety to the rest of the community that we do take their complaints seriously and if we do get complaints that we think are valid that we would enact a period of monitoring."
Under the policy, anyone wishing to complain about the fan use is "to make contact with the land owner that the fan operation is of concern or disturbing them" in the first instance, with the noise management plan developed by each individual owner to include how complaints are managed, advice on impending fan operation and potential noise mitigation measures.
Council will step in in the event of non-compliance with the plan and act as a mediator between the owner and the affected resident, but if complaints are made to council then noise level readings will be taken.
Council's sustainable development director Phil Harding said every complaint made to council was responded to and the new requirement for a noise management plan will allow for better communication between complainants and fan owners, with measures in place to allow for the recording of noise levels over an extended period of time.
"We did respond to all the complaints that I saw, I can assure you of that," Mr Harding said.
"We also did testing wherever required - I, in fact, went out there a few occasions at midnight and other times so we understood it ... we're also preparing a letter to go out to all the frost fan control users saying the season is coming up [and] we will be doing compliance action if you don't meet the policy conditions."
Councillor Dino Zappacosta said the preparation behind the policy was "comprehensive" but asked why the policy includes a provision to fine users operating the fans outside of frost periods.
Development assessment planner Kerry Rourke said the only reason for fans to run outside the period was for maintenance reasons.
"The policy has always allowed for maintenance to be undertaken outside of frost periods - usually that's in the month preceding the expected frosts and they just do it one or two occasions during the day," Ms Rourke said.
"The auto-ignition won't kick in until the temperature drops anyway, so there shouldn't be any reason for them to operate other for maintenance in the month beforehand."
The policy went on public exhibition in August 2019, with the policy undergoing changes after an assessment of a development application for 17 frost fans across two stages for a property in Myall Park found the policy was "ambiguous" in a number of areas.
Council initially set up the policy in 2000 following compliance action over noise stemming from a frost fan which resulted in a case in the NSW Land and Environment Court.