“I feel very depressed. Some days I could just curl up and cry” (Australia)

Mar 6, 2011


Editor’s introduction:  Three letters.  One written by the husband, Carl, one written by his wife, Samantha, and the third written by their family physician, Dr. Scott Taylor.

Three letters written to Acciona Energy, begging them to do something about the devastating Wind Turbine Syndrome this family suffers from—suffers so much that they had to abandon their farmhouse and buy a house in town.  Except, they are forced to spend their days on the farm, working its livestock and crops, for this is the family business.

Their letters were also sent to the Australian Federal Senate, which is investigating Wind Turbine Syndrome and other disasters caused by wind turbines built close to people’s homes.  (The letters can be found on the Australian Federal Senate website, items 129 and 130.)

I lightly edited each for clarity, brevity, and style.  None of the meaning has been altered.

Read and weep.

Stepnell Farm, Waubra, Australia

The husband . . .

I am a third generation farmer on our Waubra farm.  We farm 4200 acres of high quality farming land, and are currently running 16,000 to 20,000 sheep, 500 acres of crop and 100 acres or irrigated land included.

From the first day we were asked to have wind turbines on our farm, we were very concerned about the impacts of a wind farm in our community. We declined to have 4 wind turbines on our land.

Acciona’s Waubra wind farm

The closest wind turbine is 900 metres from our house, and we have 5 wind turbines within 1500 metres from our family home, where I live with my wife Samantha and three children, Jacob, Courtney and Joshua. There are about another 6 wind turbines within 2000 metres of our land, at another location on our farm. We can see nearly all the wind turbines from most areas of our farm.

The first day the turbines started operating closest to our home, my wife started feeling ear and head pressure. Similar to flying in an aeroplane, she said. About six months after, I started feeling similar effects.

As the weeks went on it has gotten worse and worse.

We now suffer headaches, chest pains, a feeling of heart palpitations, and continuous lack of sleep. Every night we can’t sleep.  We go to sleep, then wake and just never settle into a good night sleep.

I have never seen my wife of 18 years look so tired, stressed and unhealthy. This is a huge concern. My children are also more tired and emotional. We have no other illness or medical conditions that could cause us to feel like this.  We have not changed anything in our lifestyle since we started feeling like this.

We have had talks with the operator of the Waubra wind farm, Acciona Energy, telling them of our concerns of our health effects of living too close to the wind turbines and the effects of the asset values of our land.

Acciona Energy replied that we don’t have any evidence the wind turbines affect our health.  We have large concerns about the lack of any evidence wind turbines don’t affect our health. We have lived near wind turbines for about 14 months and are feeling the worse in regards to our health and the depressed feelings we get from the visual effects of wind turbines day and night, as they have aviation lights at night.

The noise they create and the inaudible noise that I know affects our lives. And the effects in changes to bird life, such as our decreased number of brolgas breeding in our area. The total loss of bats we used to hear nearly every night, and so on.

We have now gone to the desperate measure of moving out of our family home on our farm and into Ballarat, which is 45 kilometres drive away. We will travel daily to our farm. This is a large financial outlay. Our house on the farm is only 10 years old and will remain empty, as we could not rent our house farm employees due to wind turbines being too close and therefore having health effects on them.

In conclusion, we have massive concerns about the health effects of living and working too close to the wind turbines. We are members of the Lexton Land Care group, we have planted thousands and thousands of trees, fenced off creeks and are all for the environment and green energy such as wind power or solar or whatever it takes to help our environment, but to watch myself and family suffer from health effects from living too close to wind turbines is a very big concern.

There has to be a compromise.

Carl Stepnell

Stepnell Farm, Waubra, Australia

The wife . . .

Our family home is about 800 m to 900 m from five turbines that are closely clustered together. Our farm is surrounded by turbines. My bedroom is the closest room to the four turbines.

The health impact from living so close to the wind turbines began the day they began operation near our home are:

  • Chronic sleep deprivation from repeated disturbance during the night from the noise the turbines make.
    • When the noise of the turbines wakes me up, I find it very difficult to go back to sleep. This can happen a number of times a night. When I wake in the morning, I feel as if I have had no sleep at all. I also feel very tired all the time and have no energy and very lethargic.
    • Prior to the turbines being built, I was able to sleep peacefully with our window open (in the summer) and wake up feeling like I have had a great sleep, and ready for the day ahead.
  • Feeling of uneasiness
  • Suffer from pressure in my ears and head. Some days the noise is that bad, the pressure is unbearable.

The only way I can explain how I feel, it is like being in a plane with that pressure in the cabin from flying. Except it does not go away.

Our farm is 4200 acres and it is our business.  My husband and I work on the farm, so we are frequently outside. The noise from the turbines in certain conditions is unbearable and makes our workplace very hard to put up with.  I find it very upsetting and stressful.

I feel very depressed and some days I could just curl up and cry.

All these symptoms—headaches, ear pressure and sleep disruption—have occurred only since the turbines began operation, and they occur only when the turbines are operating.

I feel the longer I am around the wind turbines, it is affecting my health even more. I feel it is taking me longer to get over the health problems I am suffering from.

For example, my family and I just returned from a week’s holiday. I slept all night and when I woke up, I felt like I had a good night sleep. I woke up from my night’s sleep with lots of energy. This is the way I should feel all the time. There was no pressure in my ears and head. I felt like I was back to my old self.

The day I returned from holidays, I began to feel all the symptoms that I have explained, above.  They had returned.

We had no choice but to leave our family home we built nine years ago on our farm. We have moved into Ballarat, and we travel out to the farm to work each day. (Ballarat is 45 kilometres away from Waubra.)

The day the furniture removals came (4/11/10) was an extremely sad day for my family and me.  To pack up our belongings and leave our family home we built. We brought our three kids home from hospital and we were going to live there forever. But we have been forced to move away because of the Acciona wind farm. We thought that we would grow old together in our home on the farm and watch our children grow up and move on with their lives.

No, that is not the case, we have been forced out of our home.

… from the Acciona website

We have nothing against wind farms. I am all for the environment.  We plant thousands of trees for our farm each year. The planning of a wind farm has to be in a better location and not so close to residential areas. Buying a home in Ballarat put huge financial pressure on us, but we had no choice but to leave. Our health is number one and it was really suffering.

The first night we slept in our new home was the first time we have had a full night sleep in 18 months.

I am fine when I am away from the turbines, although, as soon as I return to the farm, the symptoms return. I find it very difficult to enjoy a day’s work on the farm because of the health effects caused by wind turbines.

If you care for the health and well-being of my family and me, could you please take the matter of the health effects from living so close to the Waubra wind turbines very seriously?

You are more than welcome to come and experience what it is like to be so close to the wind turbines, as no letter will ever express exactly what we are feeling. There are no words to describe these feelings and how the turbines are effecting our health.

Thank you for your time, and please take this letter seriously.

Yours sincerely,

Samantha Stepnell

Turbine infrasound disturbs the inner ear

The family doctor . . .

Acciona Energy

30 September 2010

Dear Sir,

re: Carl and Samantha Stepnell

I saw this couple on 29 September 2010 regarding health problems related to wind turbines which are located nearby in Waubra. They have a 4500 acre farm on which they run sheep and grow grain.

The farm is surrounded by wind turbines, but the ones that they feel are contributing to their current symptoms relate to five turbines, located within 900 metres of their home.

These turbines have been in operation for the last fourteen months, as I understand, and Carl and Samantha acknowledge they have been aware of a constant sound while the turbines are in operation since this period of time.

However, in the last six months the Stepnells have had increasing problems, including increased feeling of pressure in their head and ears, a feeling of uneasiness and frequent waking at night. This has led to increased lethargy and inevitably a lowered mood.

Last May, Carl and Samantha noticed when the turbines were not in operation for two weeks that their symptoms significantly improved, but worsened again when the turbines came back online.

Carl and Samantha have also noticed that they have significantly less problems when away on holidays.

Samantha Stepnell notices that her symptoms are more persistent and severe as she spends more time in the house closest to these five turbines. Her husband, Carl, is also constantly affected but is able to move around the farm doing his usual work and therefore, at times, is further away from the turbines.

Their three children spend most of the day away from the farm, and, as such, have minimal symptoms.

The couple has not had a past history of these symptoms, nor has there been a past history of depression, stress or anxiety. They feel that they can accept the visual impact of the turbines and the red flashing lights at night, but it is the noise from the turbines that is causing their symptoms.

I also confirm that I have one other patient who lives at Waubra on a 10-acre farm, who is distraught with exactly the same symptoms as the Stepnells.

I believe from the circumstantial evidence that there is a strong correlation between their symptoms and the operation of the wind turbines nearby.

I hope therefore that you can take this into consideration in your discussions with Carl and Samantha Stepnell to try and come to an outcome that will resolve these symptoms.

Yours sincerely

Scott Taylor, M.B., B.S.

… from the Acciona website
  1. Comment by Peter Skeel Hjorth on 03/07/2011 at 2:06 am

    This is a peace-time crime against humanity. And there are many other cases like this from other parts of the world.

    This cannot continue.

    Peter Skeel Hjorth

  2. Comment by Melodie Burkett on 03/07/2011 at 6:38 am

    Bastards!… I can’t help but think that surely at some point there will be a mass rising of people that just won’t take it anymore … all at once around the world … and we will run these bastards off the globe!

    Worldwide sabitoge comes to mind. Destroy the substations, developers’ cars, etc.

  3. Comment by Helen Parker, PhD Lic. Clinical Psychologist (Martha's Vineyard, MA) on 03/07/2011 at 12:28 pm

    Thank you, Calvin. This is so powerful. Also Melodie’s comment. And scrolling further down once again to “Why we do this…” Thank you for keeping on.

    It seems to me this is a desperately important race. The extent of the tragic damage which will be wreaked on our world is dependent on how quickly the world comes to hear the truth that BigWind is an environmental disaster, “one of the most stupendous wastes of public resources of modern times,” accomplishing nothing—that the world hears the truth and says, “STOP!”

    As Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, points out, we’re spending globally about $250 BILLION, presumably attempting to mitigate climate change, with the vast majority of those funds going toward laying waste to our environment with ineffective monstrous wind turbines, “a feel-good exercise in spending lots and lots of money doing virtually no good.”

    Lomborg’s suggestion is to pour 40% of our environmental do-good dollars into green energy Research & Development. To develop low-emission, low-cost, long-term solutions, citing the promise of algae fuel, “terra power” and wave power—none of which have been implemented on a large scale, but all of which can produce power predictably, constantly, and therefore on demand, as needed.

    He would also fund adaptation and geo-engineering projects such as cooling cityscapes by using paler roofing and paving materials; creating denser cloud formations in both northern and southern hemispheres by spraying sea water into the air (using fixtures which, once installed mid-ocean, use no fossil fuels).

    He proposes “regenerative planting” of trees to suck the CO2 out of the atmosphere.

    Following these activities, there would still be lots of that $250 billion left to direct toward alleviating other pressing needs, worldwide.

    We hear daily about the lack of public funds to maintain basic infrastructure for safety, education, healthcare, social security security (sic). Hunger and lack of shelter around the world. How can our policy-makers continue making policies which promote squandering our financial and environmental resources on the most idiotic of engineering conceits without looking at the studies which show that wind simply doesn’t work?

    Inevitably, the numbers will tell the tale. We shall overcome!

    But how many people will have lost their good lives? How many Falmouths, how many Waubras, how many Carl and Samantha Stepnells will lie in the wake of the atrocities before our “public servants” stop buying BigWind’s BigLie and making us pay the price?

    Editor’s reply: Why is this Comment not being read into the Congressional Record? Today! This afternoon!

  4. Comment by Andreas Marciniak on 03/22/2011 at 3:24 am

    I also know how Carl and Samanth Stepnell feel,
    This is my Letter.

    To whom it may Concern

    I/we would like to let you know about our urgent Concerns!
    I/we have for the effect on our Health the Waterloo wind farm has on us!

    I Andreas Marciniak have never slept so badly;
    From the time the wind farm has been put up on the hill less than 3km away, which is playing havoc with my every day life.
    Headaches, awake all night because of the jet like noise coming over the hill, when the wind comes across from the east to the west, stress ,lack of concentration etc: I feel nauseous when I get woken up at night, the noise and Vibration has a weird effect on me.
    I/we know that you know what is causing this problem, because I’m not the only one with this reaction to the Wind farm,
    This problem also has a massive impact on Property value in and around the town of Waterloo and anywhere near the wind farms.
    I/we have asked around. People know, now have
    Health problems and noise problems, and resale problems,
    No one wants to live anywhere near wind farms.
    This has now destroyed my future.
    Roaring 40s said at the town meeting in Waterloo they talked to concerned Citizens? I/we have “NOT” seen anyone in this town yet…
    What will you do about “THIS” problem? Or are you going to let the Wind farm make us sick? Financially ruin us? Or make us leave our Homes – So that they can make money for the share holders? So much for GREEN Power?
    Thank you
    please take this letter and Wind Turbine Syndrome for real.
    Kind regards
    A. Marciniak

  5. Comment by James Gordon (Vietnam & Australia) on 04/11/2011 at 4:24 am

    I am an Australian and I lived in Australia till ten years ago. These reports about wind farms in the country are most alarming. Before returning to live in Australia—if this is what I do—I will have to find out how to avoid wind farms.

    Why do the turbines make a noise or give off any form of pollution? I thought the idea was that Australia was a pro-environment country. It seems, which is appalling, that the engineering has somehow, accidentally, been exremely poor, or that Australia is desperate, or that its environmental attitudes have changed.

    So, beware Australia! Something is very amiss in the administration of the country. I come from Bungendore, and I understand that a huge wind farm has been built there. It is devastating to find that my home village is somewhere I won’t be settling.

    Where to from here?

  6. Comment by Tom Heys (United Kingdom) on 08/16/2011 at 12:10 pm

    I have read the letters with great interest. Like Carl and Samantha, I am the third generation farming. We live in an area close to the sea in Lincolnshire, England. There are at present 20 turbines about 8 km to the north and 16 about 5.5 km to the south of the farm.

    Our concern is that there are plans ahead for 8 to be sited with the nearest 900 metres from our house with not even a tree between them and us. If they get planning permission, the turbines will be 115 metres to the tip of the blade, and the blades will be 45 metres in length.

    The impact these will have on our lives concerns us greatly, and we have great sympathy for Carl and Samantha and all others that are faced with this problem.

    There are many being built out in the North Sea, off the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coast. Surely this is the place for them–not on land where they cause all these problems.

    Editor’s note: Tom, you’d better read this piece, “Fish and wind turbines don’t mix.” And “Wind turbines in Lake Michigan.”

The comments are closed.