Kermond, J. Submission to 2015 Select Committee on Wind Turbines
“…symptoms included headaches, nausea, fatigue, sleep deprivation, dizziness, loss of concentration and cognitive skills, heart palpitations, fluctuations in blood pressure with no correlation, depression, head and ear pressure increasing to an unbearable level, cramping pain in limbs, vision impairment, and nerve complaints. These symptoms would all decrease after we had left the wind farm zone for a period of time.”
In 2008 the wind farm at Cape Bridgewater was complete and commissioned. Our life as a family of four was quite normal for a rural setting. My husband, I and our two sons all enjoying the coastal, isolated location and freedom of life on the land.
We were keen to spend our spare time at home enjoying the space, peace and natural setting of our home of seventeen years. Our two sons at secondary school, ages fourteen and sixteen, enjoying friends, family, soccer, surfing, bike riding , camping and any outdoor activity. We were keen to share this lifestyle choice with as many friends and family who would visit.
We had developed a hobby farm with various animals including goats, cats, dogs and fowl.
We spent many hours working the land and garden, building and maintaining our renovated home. It had been my family home for five generations being built in the mid 1800’s.
We had put our savings into our home to build a future for ourselves and our sons to have security.
My husband worked long hours on our home and I also committed many hours into restoring and maintaining our dream.
In 2008/2009 I had enrolled in courses at a local agency to expand my employment potentials. This should have been a simple task but I found it challenging to complete my study at home and was becoming fatigued through lack of sleep for no apparent reason.
Our family dog, an English/Australian terrier was four years of age and began to change his behaviour including scratching at the house windows/doors, anxious behaviour, loss of muscle in skull and jaw followed by all body muscle deterioration. He was developing a mass of fluid behind his ears, and was scratching at his ears and body. He suffered hair loss, became depressed looking, and lacked energy to greet us when we returned home from outings. His health continued to deteriorate over the next few months despite regular communication and visits to the local veterinary clinic. We were eventually referred to a senior veterinarian at the Werribee Melbourne University Veterinary Centre who performed more extensive tests and concluded that our dog “Skruffy” was enduring a severe form of environmental stress and there was no physiological diagnosis to determine a condition or other results. He died several weeks after to our extreme distress in late 2009.To this day we are so upset we did not know to remove him from the toxic and painful emissions of the nearby wind facility. Ironically he did appear to be relieved or happy when we took him on outings to the local beach etc. not realising it was the distancing between him and the wind facility that was the main solution. He also developed travel sickness and was unstable on his feet in the latter months.
Our boys were suffering varied symptoms which affected their daily lifestyle and activities, they lost energy and enthusiasm for life as did my husband and I. We found ourselves struggling to get to school and work or leisure/social engagements. After numerous health complaints and visits to doctors and specialists we were informed of some information from doctors and citizens throughout Australia and the world correlating wind turbines and similar machines to the very symptoms we were suffering on a daily basis whilst residing near the wind facility. These symptoms included headaches, nausea, fatigue, sleep deprivation, dizziness, loss of concentration and cognitive skills, heart palpitations, fluctuations in blood pressure with no correlation, depression, head and ear pressure increasing to an unbearable level, cramping pain in limbs, vision impairment, and nerve complaints. These symptoms would all decrease after we had left the wind farm zone for a period of time. This was more confirmation of the mounting evidence that it was the wind facility causing our health issues. There were more health complications which led us to attend specialists, one of which mentioned he had knowledge of the type of adverse effects from industry we were experiencing. He advised we leave until this issue is resolved. We had a trip to Sydney for two weeks and returned in better condition even though it had been busy and otherwise tiring. Almost instantly we were feeling the cluster of symptoms we had left home with. We spent the next year packing an overnight bag and escaping to stay with friends and family every other day. This was humiliating and frustrating for us all, as we were in shock as to leaving our home and security. It was also difficult and disruptive to our boys schooling being in their final VCE years in their initial years of being homeless. They have not been able to return to a family home to this day despite our best efforts and intention. As a mother this has and still does give me great pain to recall their suffering and sacrifice. Also as a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend I have struggled to meet my commitments and relations to these important others. Many still do not understand the complexity of our suffering and sense of our helpless situation. It feels like our identity has been stolen as well.
We have endured the constant exposure to the environment of the wind facility whilst under the denial of the wind facility operator, Pacific Hydro, and now struggle to return for any time without severe consequences to our health. We have a heightened sensitivity to the area around the wind facility and any others in the local area, and we feel strongly that we cannot co-exist in the district of Portland and Cape Bridgewater without further health consequences.
Since 2009 we have been communicating with local council, The Glenelg Shire, and the wind company, Pacific Hydro. In council we are well known to the councillors, planning and environmental health. All sectors have denied any responsibility, stating it is the state government who issued the permit and both state and federal governments are a law unto themselves. We do believe the local council are equally responsible for the location, planning and design of the wind farms and the lack of duty of care to their ratepayers who only lose from their rezoning, property devaluation, and loss of quality of life.
The wind company had a standard response to all our complaints: “We are compliant to the standards” and when asked why they have not tested on our property after several reports of issues they duly replied “we do not legally have to”.
In May 2014, after a year of negotiating with Pacific Hydro, testing by Acoustician Steven Cooper began at our vacated home at Cape Bridgewater. We would visit daily when possible over the next eight weeks to record our experiences of noise, vibration, sensation and other problems or experiences. This was an extremely difficult time for us as we had not endured the close proximity to the wind facility for this amount of time since leaving years earlier. We needed to stay in the general area as it was a strain to travel far after the impacts of the wind facility each visit. We were advised to minimise our time at the wind farm zones, but felt strongly we needed to commit to reveal this tragic health hazard to the world. I felt many adverse symptoms during this exposure and was fatigued on a constant basis.
In the last few weeks of the testing period I began to notice more constant fluctuations in my blood pressure. I would wake each morning feeling exhausted. On 4th July I awoke at a house 2 kilometres from the wind facility and walked a short distance before I experienced numbness in my left side and loss of vision in my left eye. Upon nearing my husband I attempted to speak, but could only say a few words. My husband took me in to Portland Hospital and my medical clinic where I was diagnosed as having a mini-stroke. I left the Portland district a few days after for an eight week period. In this time I returned to Cape Bridgewater only by necessity every two weeks and experienced eye migraines and elevated blood pressure problems again. I have since been diagnosed with heart issues which may correlate with the Vibro-acoustic disease and studies identified by physicians such as Maria Al Peres in Portugal, and in relation to the studies done by NASA in the 1980’s. When I leave the district of the Portland Wind Project I feel a lift of pressure and my heart even settles. We sleep well and can function more productively in our lives. It is like a cloud is lifted and the symptoms only return if we are exposed to any of the emissions which are similar to the wind farm power plant. This isolates us from the society which requires our interaction with these noises, electrical fields, radiation and the like.
We remain in a refugee status moving from one shelter to the next and our only option was to stay in a bus or caravan most of the previous twelve months. We found a suitable place of convenience in Portland in December 2014 but now the last stage of the Portland Wind Project is now complete we will be forced to relocate yet again as there are nine turbines due south of our existing temporary home. I have been referred to several psychologists and social workers in this period of wind turbine trauma. I have reported to doctors and all professionals of the unusual nature of our lives as Australian citizens.
The Environmental Protection Agency has not responded to our complaints. We have exhausted every avenue possible to resolve this issue. Every Member of Parliament or government agency/department we have access to, have been notified of our unjust situation with little or no response. State and Federal politicians Denis Napthine and Dan Tehan are two we have visited several times to help us. This also included the department of planning and community development for Victoria, who visited our home and were duly concerned. He was moved to another role after reporting his findings to his supervisors we believe. Our basic human rights as stated by the World Health Organisation have been violated. Yet we still suffer and do not have another option at this point whilst our home is vacant, deteriorating, and we are being forced to pay rates and other expenses for the privilege of owning a piece of untenable property in an industrial area.
Many others have left or relocated without declaring publicly their issues and others were and are simply not aware why they have had symptoms of ill health. As the only practical mode of selling and relocating is to remain silent about the adverse effects of the neighbouring power plant, this has become and is still the trend. Our home is our greatest asset and if we lose money on this we struggle as a society. I believe many properties around the wind turbine zone have become unsaleable as this would not be a desired lifestyle choice for the purchaser as we have argued to local council and contracted land valuers. There just doesn’t seem to be anyone listening.
Pacific Hydro’s Sustainable Communities Fund provides financial support to community groups and organisations – as long as these groups agree to Pacific Hydro’s specific terms and conditions, including: J: The Recipient shall not do or say anything or cause anyone to do or say anything that may prejudice or cause damage to the name and reputation of Pacific Hydro or its affiliated companies.
It is isolating to voice our concerns about the wind farm and speak our truth in our local town which is not only beholden to Pacific Hydro’s ‘condition j’ but also has such a large investment and interest in the wind farm company and the industrial and engineering companies as major employers. These same companies have contracts with the wind industry…