As Hughenden’s proposed $1.5 million Kennedy Wind Farm project gathers steam, graziers at a Victorian wind farm location are being forced off the land by health problems caused by turbine noise.
Noel Dean and his family left their farm in Waubra, about 30 kilometres north of Ballarat, after experiencing constant headaches after turbines went up two kilometres away from their home.
“We’re refugees in our own country, we’re leaving here because of danger,” he said.
He said his home sat in an amphitheatre – a bowl-shaped valley between two hills – which funneled the noise from the turbines towards his house.
His doctor diagnosed him with electromagnetic spasms in his skull.
Another Waubra resident, Carl Stepnell, had turbines 900 metres away from his home and experienced similar problems.
“I started getting a sort of tingling in the head and headaches and then it just, you could feel it eventually getting worse and worse,” he said.
“[It’s] like being in a cabin of a plane. It’s just the ear pressure and headaches and the nausea just in, the pressure in my ear – it didn’t go away.”
He moved his family to Ballarat to escape.
Electrical engineer Graeme Hood from the University of Ballarat used audio equipment to check sound levels near the turbines.
He said although the turbines don’t sound very loud, they’re actually producing sound at a frequency too low to hear.
“The brain thinks it’s quiet, but the ears may be telling you something else or the body may be telling you something else, it’s much louder,” he said.
Anti-wind farm campaigner Dr Sarah Laurie said people within a 10 kilometre radius of turbines could be at risk of health problems such as elevated blood pressure and headaches.
But University of Adelaide professor Gary Wittert, who has conducted one of the first independent studies into wind farm health issues, denies there’s any link.
Last month, a Senate inquiry into the health affects of wind farms called for more scientific investigations.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard brushed off concerns about health risks of wind farms and said she had not received any advice about their dangers.
“I’ve stood underneath these wind turbines and they’re remarkably quiet,” she told reporters.
Currently, wind farms power two per cent of Australia’s energy needs, and the Government wants to increase it to 20 per cent by 2020 – or 3200 new wind turbines.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding