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Health issues

A Glenthompson couple is claiming that the Oaklands Hill wind farm near their house is affecting their health.

Adrian and Helen Lyon have been experiencing ear discomfort in their home that is 1.6 to 1.7km from the nearest turbine.

The Oaklands Hill wind farm has 32 turbines and once operational, will be able to generate up to 63 MW of energy per year. The wind farm is currently in the commissioning phase.

Mr Lyon said he believed some turbines near his house were turned on during August 23 and that the next day, more began operation.

Mrs Lyon was in the couple’s house at the time and was experiencing issues with her ears by lunchtime.

The pair then both had an uncomfortable night as the discomfort in their ears continued.

“With the discomfort we didn’t sleep much,” Mr Lyon said.

“My wife appeared more distressed about it than I was so it’s a bit hard to say that I couldn’t have slept if there was peace and quiet… but I did have discomfort in the ears and it was much as if I had been working with some equipment without ear protection.

“It is mainly a discomfort of the ear and attention on the head. I wouldn’t say I got a severe headache or anything like that straight off, which there’s talk of, but I wasn’t comfortable.”

Mr Lyon said he believed the ear pain was confined to the area around the wind farm as the pain dissipated after a time once he left his property.

He said it was a northerly wind that pushed the noise of the turbines through to his property.

My Lyon’s youngest son has proven to have a sensitivity to wind farms as he had previously stood under turbines at a South Australian development and got an ear pain immediately.

Mr Lyon said he told his son this week “don’t hurry to come home if there’s a north wind”.

Low-frequency infrasound issues linked to health issues such as headaches, hearing loss, sleeplessness and high blood pressure, have been widely reported in Victoria anecdotally, but little formal research has been known to link wind farms with adverse health.

Mr Lyon said he and his wife had not been to the doctor for their health issues.

“We haven’t been to the doctor because we haven’t got a problem if we’re not placed in that circumstance,” he said.

“The thing is, not to get a problem that we need to go to a doctor for. I think we could find plenty of doctors who could tell us what it was.”

Mr Lyon said he was considering moving out of his home to allow for independent testing of the noise levels in his house.

He said he was surprised to learn the quiet nature of the noise produced by the turbines.

“I thought it would resonate in the house and cause more noise than it did,” he said.

“We turned the TV and everything off and we could hardly hear it, but my hearing probably isn’t as good as some people.

“To me the critical thing is that it does affect us.

“At the moment, I believe the best thing for us is to find some accommodation elsewhere so that other people that wouldn’t be viewed as prejudiced could experience it and give unbiased opinions.

“We’ve got to move fairly quickly or not be in our house on a north wind and that’s going to be challenging.”

A spokesperson for AGL, the developers of the Oaklands Hill wind farm, said commissioning of the turbines began on August 19.

“We have received one letter of complaint which we are now investigating as part of the formal complaints handling procedure,” he said.

As the Lyons’ house falls within a two kilometre radius of wind turbines, a planning amendment put into effect this week will mean that developers will have to gain the written consent of landowners to have a wind turbine within two km of an existing dwelling.

Amendment VC82 also established ‘no-go zones’ on wind farms, prohibiting development on all national and state parks as well as the Yarra Valley, Dandenong Ranges, Mornington Peninsula, Bellarine Peninsula, Great Ocean Road region, Macedon and McHarg Ranges and the Bass Coast.

Development is also prohibited within five kilometres of regional growth areas.

The amendment was made to allow wind farm development without impacting on local communities and Victoria’s social and environmental assets.

If the amendment was made before the development of Oaklands Hill, Mr Lyon, who declined to have turbines placed on his property, would have been able to refuse them to be within two kilometres of his house.

Mr Lyon said it was likely more people locally would begin to experience difficulties as a result of the wind farm boom in the area.

There are numerous wind farms in various stages of planning and construction in the area, including the Hawkesdale and Ryan’s Corner wind farms, whose permit extensions were knocked back by Moyne Shire last month.

“That’s why I’m probably so quick to highlight it because there are other places that are not as far down the track (locally),” he said.

“Before they install them, they want to have people check what goes on.

“Eventually if it can be proved that they harm people, either the turbines go or the people go.”