“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.
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.
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.
Turbine infrasound disturbs the inner ear
The family doctor . . .
30 September 2010
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.
Scott Taylor, M.B., B.S.