Le scandale d'Estinnes (Mons - Hainaut)
THE SCANDAL OF ESTINNES – BELGIUM
Estinnes, Hainaut in Belgium.
The German firm Enercon is busy building the most powerful on-shore windfarm in Europe and the world. Each turbine is 200 meter high. The promoter Windvision had originally proposed a windfarm composed of some 20 turbines of 2 to 3 MW, but at the last minute, he managed to impose a windfarm of 12 giant turbines, of a model unknown to that day: 6 MWh machines, that have since already been pushed to more than 7 MWh, which is not allowed by the permit. The Walloon Minister of Energy has inaugurated this windfarm in 2009, with the European Commissioner for Energy. The European Commission finances indeed directly this project. The first neighbours’ houses are at 600 to 700 meter of the giant turbines. 6 machines are installed on the 12 accepted and the noise problems start to appear…
A few testimonies from the villages of Estinnes, Bray (Binche) and Vellereille.
1) Young man – Vellereille
For some time now, I perceive a change in our behaviour, especially me. I wake up several times during the night. Before, I was a deep sleeper. My daughter wakes up also very often, 3 to 4 times per night. For some time now, my wife and daughter have also migraines. I don’t know if it is linked to the windturbines, but in any case, it is very present…
2) Lady – Bray
Since the windmills have been built, we sleep very badly.
Question: your daughter complains too?
Yes, she has headaches and suffers from insomnia…
3) Young man – Levant de Mons
It is above all upstairs. You have the impression that it is a permanent motor noise. It is especially audible during the night, since there is much less background noise. It is a motor noise. It gives the impression that there is a plane landing over your head, but only it is permanent. It is tiresome. If it were only occasionally, but it is in our daily life, every day. We have installed new windows, with double glazing one year ago, so insulation for noise is very good, even excellent, but we hear it with the windows shut.
4) Young lady – Bray
It is especially perceptible at night. It is not long ago that I could pinpoint that noise to the windturbines. I had thought originally that it was the engine of a truck in the street, or a farm machine from down the road, or a neighbour with some machinery making noise, or even my water pump. But I have asked the neighbours; all believed the same experience. It is a deep, muted engine noise, each time with a “’wouf” sound at regular intervals. In fact the noise is produced when the blade passes in front of the mast and the air is compressed. It makes it impossible for me to sleep. From 10.30 to 11.30 pm-midnight, it is really disturbing.
We have the sight of course, as you can see. We have to get accustomed to it, now there is noise on top of it…
5) Man – Bray
There started to be noise problems last year. They had started building the windfarm. From June, July, August, there were already noise problems, but as many people, we didn’t make the link with the windturbines. Then in September 2009, my (old) mother complained about hearing noises at night, deep, strong muted sounds that were very perturbating. She could not sleep anymore and we could see that she was really fading away. She was really declining. The word is not too strong. We have consulted a doctor, who gave her drops for her ears, without success. We have consulted a specialist. She went through a battery of tests, in an sound cabin. But we realized later that these noises were linked to the windfarm. These deep strong noises are eating away at you. They are gnawing at you from the inside. I have heard many persons confirm it. It is a noise that seems to resonate inside your body. It is really disturbing. And when you don’t hear this noise anymore, you unconsciously look for it…
6) Man – Estinnes au Val
At the beginning, I did not blame the wind turbines. But (with the installation of the turbines) I was always tired and suffered insomnia. Then it got worse. My wife started to have impressive headaches. She has to take painkillers every day. Then I fell into a depression; I had to take medicine, antidepressant drugs and sleeping pills, etc… My nervous breakdown started on October 5th. I hope to start working again on April 1st. That is it.
Question: You had never been ill before?
Never, never. I had never suffered a depression. I was somebody very energetic. Visibly, talking to the neighbours and visiting internet sites, I realized that windturbines could cause these types of symptoms, so I wonder, since the windturbines are in the immediate vicinity of my house.
Question: at what distance are you?
It is difficult to estimate, but from the first one, we can’t be further than 500-600 m., I think. At night, it is a humming, buzzing noise, but at some moments, I have the impression there is a Boeing plan just above the house permanently, so terrible is the noise. And that was every night for periods. It was very difficult to stand it. Despite the double glazing and the insulation. Everything is insulated here, floors, ceilings. I had never had that sort of problems before, never.
Question: what do you feel, is it vibrations?
It is difficult to explain. At night, it is the noise. Even when the turbines are not very noisy, nights are difficult. Last night, I did not hear much more noise than the days before, but at 2.30 am, I was still watching television, because I could not find sleep. Despite the pills, I could not fall asleep. The children wake up 4 to 5 times each night, what they never did before. They come into our bed, we have to take them back to their bed. Even them, in terms of sleep, you cannot say that their sleep is resting them for the next day. I find them less dynamic than before.
Question: Are children complaining too?
No, you cannot say that the children complain. But we see it. It was not usual for them to wake up 4 to 5 times a night. They usually go to bed at 7.30 pm, but they have difficulties falling asleep. And now, around 10 pm, 11 pm, midnight or later, they wake up, get up and come to our bed.
Question: What do you intend to do?
Well, a committee has just been formed. I hope that we will be able to obtain improvements to our situation, if only slow the turbines or stop them altogether at night, so that we can at least recuperate some sleep and recover some energy to lead a professional life. It is not possible as such now. I have already thought, if it continues, to move away from here. I have invested everything here 15 years ago and I am now confronted with a “fait accompli” and I can’t do anything. At least alone, I can do nothing.
At night, the red lights start burning, and you have the impression of being in an industrial zone. Even when you are in bed, since I sleep on this side of the house, I am in front of the turbines and it goes on and off all the time, so my attention is attracted all the time. During the night, when I can’t sleep, my mind is disturbed by these lights. Even that is difficult… It goes through the curtains. It is non-stop. It is haunting you, a bit like the drop of water falling in the sink.
Question: do you take medicine,
Yes. I am under treatment. I take antidepressants: Cypralexa and sleeping tablets: Clozan, Landormin, etc, to try and be able to fall asleep. If I didn’t, I would not be able to recover and start again my professional activity. It would not be possible.
7) Lady – Levant de Mons.
They started to install them one by one. At the beginning, we were watching television at night and my husband said: do you hear? We had the impression there was a car, stopped with engine running in front of the house. We have a new house with soundproof double glazing. Despite that we heard the sound of a car, parked in front of the house. Since then, we have problems of insomnia. It is to say that we wake up very often during the night. I have twin 14 years old daughters who also wake up often. They tell me in the morning: “Mummy, I slept badly, I wake up often”. It is the same with my youngest daughter. We have the impression that our sleep is disturbed regularly. Speaking with the neighbours, you realize that many have the same problem. And there are only 6 wind turbines installed on the 11 to come. It is winter. We sleep with the windows shut. What will it be in the summer?
Since January, it happened 4 times to have very bad pain in the ears. Very painful! I hold my head for a few seconds, with terrible pain in the ears. Then it goes. Are they acoustic disturbances (acouphens)? I don’t know. One of my daughters mentioned the same, and I had not spoken to her about it. She told me “Mummy, I had very bad pain in the ears”.
8) Her husband – Levant de Mons
It is a dull noise. All the time. It is like a drop of water falling continuously. Some nights, it lasts all night. I try to condition myself not to hear it, but to no avail. I have bought “quies” earballs to try to hide that noise. It lasts probably all night, since I end up falling asleep. Personally, after they built the first machines, I did not hear anything. It is only after the third, fourth, fifth, that there was a sort of accumulation. It creates something like a dome of noise that reverberates over the environment. We hear regularly jet planes that are landing at Gosselies (Brussels South Airport). You hear the noise of the plane passing as it is going to land, but it lasts some 30 seconds. Here it is the same, but permanently. What concerns insomnia; during the week, I had to take twice relaxing pills, sleeping tablets in order to be able to sleep at all. And that noise remains in your ears.
Question: do you hear that noise when you are also elsewhere?
Paradoxically, I was picking up my daughters at school, and suddenly, I had that noise in the ears for some 30 seconds. With my fingers, I made pressures to my head, and it relieved me; but it was very sensitive.
9) Young man – Estinnes-au-Val
I work night shifts and I sleep during the day. When I come home at 7 am, I go to bed and try to sleep, but it is often impossible. My bedroom is an attic room upstairs and I have the impression that when the turbines turn, the wooden roof structure enters in resonance with the windmills. The wood vibrates and it creates a deep repetitive noise. It is tenacious and really disturbing. It makes it impossible to fall asleep. You can compare it to a truck that would pass in front of the house, but permanently. When a lorry passes in front of your house, it might wake you up or not, but if it does wake you up, when it is gone you fall back asleep. Here it is continuous. Impossible to sleep. At some point I end up falling asleep, because after a full night 11 hour-work, you are so tired that your body imposes sleep.
During sleep, I am not conscious, but I have the impression that my brain still records the sound of the turbines. When I wake up, my ears are buzzing as if I had been out all night in a noisy discotheque. Sometimes, when it is really hard, my ears are whistling. I have acoustic disturbances (acouphens). It is sometimes a very strong buzzing and the impression that I have the wings of the turbine turning just next to my ear, continuously. It is even as if somebody pricked me with a pin next to the ear, all the time, all the time.
To stop it, I need to concentrate on something else. I do and then it goes. But when it is calm again, I focus on it and it starts again. It is unbearable, really!
Over one month, there are certainly 10 nights during which I can’t fall asleep. 10 nights! For me, after such a bad night, I would need 2 nights to recover fully, but you don’t have it. And hop! It starts again. You can never fully recover.
Next to the acoustic disturbances, I also suffer terrible headaches. Nothing works against them. No pill does! You can’t stop it.
10) Lady – Estinnes-au-Val
We have realized (in the old people’s home that the Lady runs) that there were old persons who did not sleep anymore. It was not justified by their health status. We have also seen that after a night when the windturbines were very noisy, the patients were psychically ill, much more nervous. They had spent a bad night. We could see they were not well. They were confused. Also during the watches at night, we realized that they had difficulty sleeping. Personally, since June, I have sleep problems. I was hospitalized for 3 days at the Brussels university hospital (Erasme) for a specific check up. Nothing could be found. I had a sleeping disorder but not characteristic. My insomnia was accompanied by acoustic disturbances (acouphens). It is a specialist who diagnosed this. Unfortunately for me, it was also discovered that I could perceive very low frequency noises from the right ear. And when I do perceive them, I have a strong pain in the ear. Some nights, I don’t hear the wind turbines, but I feel this strong pain in the ear. It wakes me up and I can’t sleep anymore. The acoustic disturbances are very disagreeable. As long as you are active, you can forget them. But once you are resting, they take over and it is very disturbing. It goes from whistling to loud buzzing or even the sound of an ambulance. It can be more or less intense. Now I am writing down when there is wind and its direction. I do it in the morning, not in the evening, so as not to be influenced. Last night for example, I noticed that the wind was favourable for the wind turbines in relation with the house; and last night I did not sleep at all.
11) Man – Estinnes-au-Val
One night, I was watching a football match on television. At one point, I was disturbed by a truck, with the engine running in the street. I went outside; no truck! Then I realized that the veranda which is just next to the living room was vibrating. I have gone into the veranda, and I perceived this strange pressure on the breast. It is like a pressure on your body, and you can hear and feel you heart beating. I compare it to carnival time, when the big drum of the band goes into a room. If the drummer continues to drum, you feel the vibrations on your breast. You vibrate and feel your heart at the rhythm of the drum beatings. Here it is the same, but permanently! A dull permanent sound. That is what I feel the most. Recently, I had never felt such a thing, my wife explained to me what it is, I had acoustic disturbances (acouphens). I had strong ear pains. I even put the sound of television higher, but they were still there. I have never taken anything to sleep before. I try to reason myself when I can’t sleep. It is normal if something bothers you, you can’t sleep, but end up sleeping anyway. In this instance, no way! I felt it for a good week over a month. I had periods of 2-3 days when it was totally impossible to sleep. I have realized that it is when the wind is coming from the South-West (dominant wind) and the wind turbines were turning quite fast.