A retired engineer who moved to the country for peace and quiet has been deprived of a good night’s sleep for three years.
Not long after John Zakula moved to his south Gippsland property, a company erected 52 wind turbines on surrounding properties, all of which are about 130 metres tall.
Mr Zakula claims the constant humming drives him out of his home in the early hours of the morning to sleep in his car on the side of the road or even at his brother’s home in Melbourne.
“It’s becoming unbearable and … I’m not, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Mr Zakula told A Current Affair while he prepared his car for bed.
“You go to bed, put your head on the pillow and it’s, ‘brrr, brrr, brrr.’ It just drives you insane,” Mr Zakula said.
Like most of the surrounding residents, Mr Zakula supports renewable energy technologies but not at the cost of his health.
“You can’t sleep,” Mr Zakula said.
“If you do get to sleep, then I’m awake in two or three hours, and you can hear, ‘brrr, brrr, brrr.’ I find my heart’s racing.
He describes the “torturous” and “tedious” sound as being like a train arriving in his backyard.
“The train just arrives, but it never stops arriving and it just roars the whole time, and it cycles. There’s pulsations,” he said.
Neighbour Don Fairbrother, who lives about 2km away on the same road, said the wind farm has turned neighbour against neighbour with some landowners enjoying big kickbacks for hosting the noisy turbines.
Others, like Don, who hear the turbines around the clock, receive nothing.
“It’s farmer versus farmer,” Mr Fairbrother said.
“There’s a social division in our community that didn’t exist before. It’s sad, it’s a sad situation and it happens at every wind farm.”
About 80kms up the road at Alberton, another wind company, Synergy Wind, has applied to build 34 giant turbines more than 200m tall, and plans to plonk one just 770m from Jacqueline Schneider’s home.
“How can they allow these things to be this close to people’s homes?” Mrs Schneider said.
“It’s our livelihood, our family, our community.
“It’s really heartbreaking and disgusting.”
Mrs Schneider, who gave birth to a boy 13 weeks ago and has a nine-year-old daughter, said she and her husband wouldn’t be able to raise their children on their dairy farm if the wind farm project was given the go ahead.
“I wouldn’t be able to do that to my children. I couldn’t bring it or bear the thought of allowing it to happen,” she said.
The World Health Organisation this month recognised that living near a wind farm producing excessive noise is a health risk and it released new guidelines for noise levels, insisting that exposure to wind turbines shouldn’t exceed 45 decibels during daytime.
In a statement sent to A Current Affair, the director of Synergy Wind, Coralie Spitzner, said noise experts predict noise levels would fall within national guidelines.
“Studies by noise experts confirm that predicted noise levels would be within the compulsory national guidelines and World Health Organisation guidelines,” she said.
“Compliance with noise guidelines is compulsory, and monitoring of the Alberton Wind Farm would ensure this.
“Synergy Wind has engaged with local community members about the proposed Alberton Wind Farm as widely as possible since 2014.
“It has worked closely with the state government and Wellington Shire Council to ensure the project meets planning, environmental and other regulatory requirements.”
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