Jan 4, 2012
“Farm Girl,” with appreciation to the artist
—Samantha Stepnell (Ballarat, Victoria, Australia)
We recently signed up our 16-year-old daughter, Courtney, for a 4-year farming apprenticeship. As she works long hours, she is now exposed to the same damaging environment as Carl and I.
Courtney’s physical symptoms are now becoming obvious. Ear pressure, nausea, headaches and dizziness. This is her life, this is the career she has chosen and is so good at.
Since the day Acciona’s Waubra Wind Farm (Victoria, Australia) began operations, members of my family have experienced various symptoms, including excruciatingly painful ear pressure, severe headaches, severe nausea to the point of being unable to keep food down, profuse nose bleeds, disabling dizziness, chronic and severe sleep disturbance, severe depression, and worrying chest pains.
These symptoms occur only when we are home and the turbines are operating. Our doctor advised us to move from our home, which we have done, which has partially improved the situation. But our farm is our workplace, and we now travel back there to work, and still get many of the symptoms when we are out there, and the turbines are operating.
It has completely changed our lives, the way we run our business. We are now cut off from our old way of life. As soon as we are ten kilometers from the area where the turbines are operating, our symptoms disappear.
We are no longer able to employ anyone at our farm with confidence that our workplace is a safe environment. This is a huge concern for us as we do not know what position we would be in if one of our employees became ill as a direct result of exposure to turbines too close to our property. (We employ a casual farm hand, who is normally quite healthy. He now experiences frequent headaches, ear pressure and hypertension.)
We have recently signed up our sixteen year old daughter, Courtney, for a four year farming apprenticeship. As she works long hours, she is now exposed to the same damaging environment as Carl and I.
Courtney’s physical symptoms are now becoming obvious. Ear pressure, nausea, headaches and dizziness. This is her life, this is the career she has chosen and is so good at. The serious and damaging health effects wind turbines cause is a huge concern, even a threat to the industry, firstly on our farm but anywhere these wind energy facilities are operating or where permits have been granted.
Waubra is a very poorly planned development with no obvious guidelines to protect landholders from unintended consequences. We are collateral damage.
Are we not supposed to be encouraging young people to have a career in the rural industry? As parents to Courtney, do we not have a duty of care to protect her health and well-being?
In the mad rush of governments to produce clean, green energy, they have ignored the plight of their constituents, and abdicated their duty of care to protect human health.
We hold the federal and state and local Ggovernments, both elected representatives and public servants, directly responsible for the extremely difficult situation we have been placed in, and the ongoing damage being done to our family’s health.
Over a period of two and a half years, I have made numerous complaints about all this to state and federal Members of Parliament, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health, the Pyrenees Shire and Acciona Energy—to no avail.