Germany: How a dream became a nightmare

heartlMarch 8, 2012
A true story about the wind mania in northern Germany, of two people who moved to the countryside in order to realize their dream of a peaceful life and work in the midst of nature and now, 17 years later, find themselves in a permanent nightmare.

Paradise in the countryside to live and work
When we moved to the countryside in 1994 we were no wind power opponents. Generating energy through wind power could be useful, but we weren’t informed enough about pros and cons, so we wanted us to afford no opinion.

When searching for a suitable Farmstead on the countryside, we were interested in only one thing: a scenic and peaceful environment in a natural setting with a rich biodiversity and a vast horizon. This was what we found in the Wilstermarsch in the southwest of Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state of Germany in a small community that was named Neuendorf.

We had been townsfolk before but active friends of nature. Intact, natural surroundings with a wide variety of biodiversity of grassland birds, water birds and songbirds, birds of prey, owls and bats was an important criterion for us in buying an old farm which was in need of extensive renovation work. The associated garden was with no charm, unkempt, the adjoining land corresponded to the usual over-fertilized and nature-free agriculture standard.

In the southeast, a few hundred yards away, were standing three wind turbines, nearly 50 meters high, which attracted no attention, neither by noise nor by shadow flickers. We asked the farmer, who wanted to sell the house, if more wind turbines or other industrial buildings in the surrounding area probably are planned. He assured us that this was not the case.

The asking price for such an old house which was highly in need of renovation and the unkempt garden was too high. But the location was magical. A paradise like we dreamt of, in which we wanted to grow old and we were willing to invest much time and effort and to pay such an exorbitant price.

The nightmare began
10 months after our move, in the middle of our time-consuming renovation work and garden planning aimed at making our grounds as nature-friendly as possible to realize our dream, wind turbines were erected between 320 and 420 metres from our house.

First, the quality of life dies

The nightmare starlet and the consequences for us were the following:

  • Since 1995 we have to sleep with closed windows, because of the noise the wind turbines are producing – even when it is extremely hot. Relaxation and peace in our garden, on our land and with our animals is impossible when the wind blows – whether from south-east, east, northeast or northwest we can scarcely sleep even with closed windows. Conversation inside the house in certain rooms has been disturbed
  • Shadow flicker, something very special we’ve never experienced before, came into our lives between November and February. The turbines throw a shadow in the mornings which gives us headaches, induces irritability and disturbs our concentration (we have our offices at home)
  • The avifauna (wild birds, bats and insects) disappears. In February 1995, after the wind turbines started operating, the impact on the avifauna (wild birds, bats and insects) was immediately evident in a frightening way. The majority of birds and bats disappeared! Birds which are sensitive breeders, like peewits for example did not return after migration and the bats did not return from their winter quarters in the neighbourhood. Instead they disappeared permanently.

In order to work against this loss of wildlife we bought several hectares of land further away from the turbines on the other side of our farmhouse in the summer of 1995 and re-naturalized them. It took 5 years until the bird and bat population revived at a low level….

Reaction of the former conservation organizations: today’s enviro business
As members of various conservation organizations, we reported other members of our observations on the behavior of the avifauna, after the wind turbines started operating. Already at that time we were called crackpots. We were accused, we would be nuclear power lobbyists. The loss of species was partly denied, partly accepted without protest, because wind energy is such a good thing. We were horrified and took no longer part at meetings and activities.

Today we have left all the non-governmental organizations which are sponsored by industrial wind-profiteers and which became environmental companies with wind energy and biomass production at the expense of nature. We will support no longer this scandal and fraud on the expense of nature and the true conservationists.

Some did not answer the reasons for the termination, some answered with standard letters and others with incomprehension..

First symptoms of disease
Approximately 1996 we realized that we barely fall to sleep and weren’t able to sleep through the night. We thought even to ask a dowser, to determine if our bed is standing above a water vein. We moved furniture between several rooms, but it was the same everywhere.

Symptoms such as ear pressure and noise in the ears were suddenly our companions. Visits to the doctor and medications became the rule for us. – I began to wonder why I felt better on my long and exhausting tournees, than at home. During the work I recovered from my lack of sleep. Previously it was vice versa…

Wind power profiteers and their dirty methods
That same year, amid this new and terrifying experience, the then-mayor appeared with the representative of a wind power operator to to convince us of an extension of the wind energy area – in the midst of the most species-rich wet meadows around our land. With the words: ” It won’t be to your disadvantage…”, he tried to corrupt us. The men were shown the door.

Much later we found out that it was wagered in the village, whether we let ourselves buy by the wind energy profiteers, or whether our love for nature would triumph…

Also we were told about the 1.000 DM, the community representatives were paid in the early 90s for their approval to the first plans for the wind turbines next to our farm..

Thus we realized, why the seller of the property we’ve bought suddenly wanted to sell the farm. He was member of the local council and agreed to the wind power plans, pocketed the sum, and then hurried to look for naive clients, to buy his dilapidated farm for a lot of money before the wind turbines are built.

Slowly we came to know from personal experience and by reading the approval documents of the wind turbines next to us this dirty secrets of the supposedly clean wind energy …

And there should be a lot more.

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