French court considers wind farm a source of health problems for residents
A court in southwestern France awarded € 128,000 to a couple after they recognized that wind turbines near their home were the cause of physical, mental and financial problems for them.
After six years of legal proceedings, the Toulouse court ruled in favor of the couple, originally from Belgium.
The couple, known as Christel and Luc F., live in the Tarn in Occitanie. There are six wind turbines near their farm, all within 700-1,300 meters.
The court ordered two wind farm companies using the wind turbines – Margnes Energie and Sasu Singladou Energie – to pay the couple € 128,000 in damages in recognition of the couple’s suffering and the devaluation of their property.
Lawyer for the couple Mrs. Alice Terrace, says Le Figaro: “This is not a case that you see every day. I think this court decision is unprecedented in France.
The rural location has become “a nightmare”
In 2004, the couple, in their forties, bought and renovated an old farmhouse dating from 1813, located in the Haut Languedoc regional natural park.
The property comprises a main house and three additional buildings, which the couple have converted into gites, with plans to accommodate holidaymakers in the rural area.
Ms. F explains: “We bought this house because it is located in a fantastic natural area of ecological interest for flora and fauna, and the natural heritage is protected and exceptional.
But between 2008 and 2009, six wind turbines were built. French law stipulates that the legal minimum distance between a turbine and a dwelling must be at least 500 meters.
And although the property’s wind turbines adhere to this law of distance, the couple quickly began to run into trouble anyway.
Mr. F said: “At first we were not against building turbines near our property, but over time our daily life has turned into a nightmare.”
In 2013, the timber that previously separated the couple’s property from the windmill fields was razed, causing greater problems. The wind farm lights posed a particular problem, with bright white flashes that “would look like you were in a permanent thunderstorm.”
“It was a really terrifying visual and aural assault, which was even more unbearable at night,” MF said.
The couple experienced headaches, loss of sleep, fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, and even fainting and fainting.
No business support
The couple initially attempted to contact the wind farm companies but received no response. The two companies have their headquarters in Deux-Sèvres, far from the wind farm itself.
This lack of response continued for two years, said MF
He explained, “These companies generate green energy far from their own backyards, and they don’t care about the people who live there.
“Despite our requests, we did not receive any support, neither from the municipality, nor from the department or from the region. We realized that the financial gain brought by wind turbines to communities outweighs the well-being of local residents. ”
The couple discovered that the turbines bring in € 100,000 in income to neighboring municipalities.
On the advice of their doctor, the couple decided to move. Mr. F said: “Living there had become unbearable. We had to move into a rental building 17 km from our house.
Shortly after the couple moved in January 2016, their health issues disappeared, they said.
In 2015, the couple initiated proceedings to take their case to court. They demanded compensation from the two wind farm companies before the court of Castres. During the course of the case, the property was examined by a medical and ultrasound team.
The latter team concluded that wind turbines emit inaudible low-frequency sounds, called infrasound.
Ms. Terrasse, the couple’s lawyer explained: “The wind farm was therefore recognized as a source of nuisance”, and the couple turned out to be the victim of “wind turbine syndrome” – a condition that is not officially recognized in France.
These findings have been reprimanded by the companies.
Their lawyer Me Alexandre Brugière declared that both the Academy of Medicine and the National Environment Agency are currently declaring that “no link can be proven between infrasound and the disorders often alleged by the applicants”.
He added that the couple’s problems may actually have been caused by the stress on the visual sight of the turbines after the wood was shaved.
In January 2020, the court of Castres dismissed the couple’s case, ruling that the “nuisance” was not significant enough, and did not go beyond the usual inconvenience of the neighborhood.
The couple appealed the decision.
They claimed that Judge de Castres had failed to recognize the long-term consequences of the turbines, including that in addition to their physical and mental health problems, their farm is now unsaleable and their plan to run a lodges business in shreds.
Find in favor
Last July, a Toulouse court ruled in favor of the couple. He recognized the “wind turbine syndrome” and the change in their health as a result of the wind turbines.
Lawyer Ms. Terrasse said: “This syndrome is not officially recognized in France, but the definition established by the World Health Organization (WHO) cannot be denied by the courts.
Since 2018, WHO environmental noise guidelines included “wind turbine noise” as a source of noise considered “one of the main environmental risks to physical and mental health and well-being”.
The couple were awarded € 128,000 in damages, in recognition of the damage to their health and the “abnormal” inconvenience of the neighborhood.
The couple said: “Our suffering has finally been recognized after so many years of legal proceedings.”
Yet the farm still turns out to be unsaleable, despite having been on the market for three years.
The couple said: “We were forced to give up our life plan [to run a business here]. “
Their lawyer is now seeking to use the case as evidence that additional legislation is needed for the wind farm industry in rural areas.
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