Penetrating migraines, sheer exhaustion due to a lack of sleep, a loss of balance and hypersensitivity to noise are some of the health problems residents in the picturesque hills of Cape Bridgewater are claiming the wind turbines on their doorsteps are causing.
Several households near the 29-turbine development have abandoned or are considering abandoning their homes.
Their message to residents opposing any wind farms, including Allendale East and the Woakwine Ridge, is clear: “You have reason to be worried. The wind turbines will impact on everyone living there and they destroy communities from pre-construction to commencement of operation and thereafter.”
Wind farm developers across Australia have consistently denied claims that wind turbines could cause health problems.
Tired of their claims being ignored and snubbed by wind farm developer Pacific Hydro, the Glenelg Shire Council, the State Planning Department and some members of the public, Cape Bridgewater residents Brian Kermond, Sonia Trist and Melyssa Ware have decided to speak out.
In an interview with The Border Watch, the three residents said their families had suffered enough.
In the lead up to 2008, before the turbines started turning, Mr Kermond was employed full-time in the construction process of the wind farm.
“If we only knew what we do now,” he said.
As soon as the 18 turbines – the closest 1.5km from his home – started spinning, he said life started to change inside his peaceful family stone home.
“From the day the turbines were switched on, our outside dog started scratching frantically on the doors and windows,” Mr Kermond said.
“He never bothered coming into the house, so this seemed strange and out of character.
“He lost muscle tone and seemed stressed and depressed and continually scratched at his ears until they bled.”
Several visits to various veterinarians and blood tests were inconclusive until the dog eventually died in Mr Kermond’s arms.
Meanwhile, Mr Kermond and his family started to display unusual symptoms which they had never experienced before – difficulty sleeping, headaches, exhaustion, nausea, heart palpitations, confusion, speech problems, vertigo, pressure inside the ears and a lack of concentration.
By 2009, the symptoms had become so unbearable that the Kermonds made the difficult decision to abandon their beloved family home and move away.
“All we’re asking is that the turbines be switched off so we can move back into our home to resume our family life,” Mr Kermond said.
They were not the only ones who were displaying symptoms.
Ms Ware and Ms Trist and their families were plagued with health issues and are now also seriously considering abandoning their homes.
“The vibration through the wooden floors and intrusive noise inside our house drive me mad sometimes – at times my hearing is so affected that I can’t even bear the sound of ripping paper,” Ms Ware said.
“I’m concerned about long-term health effects and no one is prepared to scientifically or medically review what we’re experiencing here.
“I’m concerned that more turbines will be built close to people, and more people will become sick.
“Government departments, local council and health advisors have not responded to my questions and concerns in a way that reassures me.
“There are no policies in place to deal with complaints or concerns about the wind farm – the whole situation gets buried or ignored.”
Ms Trist lives with the nearest turbine about 620 metres from her home.
“I get so tired of experiencing and relating the problems,” she said.
“The fact is we get poor quality sleep and that creates many more problems – we insist that independent full spectrum noise and vibration surveys and analyses be done inside and outside our homes.”
At a recent forum in Mount Gambier chaired by senators Nick Xenophon and John Madigan, direction and assistance was offered to people dealing with wind turbine issues.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Council has agreed to a Liberal move for a multi-party investigation into the social, health and economic impacts of the burgeoning wind power industry in South Australia.
The Legislative Council Committee will investigate separation distances between wind turbines and homes, the social, health and economic impacts of wind generators and the need for a peer-reviewed, independent academic study into their effects.
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