By Troy Patterson
Shoreline Beacon – The Windfarm Action Group (WAG) wants the public to challenge municipal, county and wind power officials to look deeper into the health issues associated with inaudible sound and light flicker before they’re erected.
A large crowd gathered at Saugeen Shores Plex’s Rotary Hall on August 30 to hear members of WAG and its guests, sharing concerns regarding wind power projects in both the Shelburne area and Kingsbridge project near Goderich.
“Is it ethical, moral or just to expose residents to unwanted sound,” said WAG member Kathy McCarrel. “We’re trying to get the wind power companies and MOE (Ministry of Environment) to realize that noise is an issue.”
The evening began with a short documentary entitled “˜Life Under A Wind Turbine’, which detailed the experiences of a handful of residents in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania in the United States.
Attendees listened about the concerns from the characters regarding sound, flicker and impacts on real estate in their region, as well as hunting and farming.
Regarding the program, McCarrel said it raised questions about what’s happening locally.
“In regards to noise and flicker, we need restrictive zoning and citizen involvement,” she said.
Ernie Marshall, a resident who lives within 350 metres of a turbine, described the impact the cluster of five wind turbines have had on his home outside of Goderich, during a videotaped interview with WAG and was also present at the meeting.
Marshall said since the turbines have begun operating this year, his horses have been unpredictable and “˜spooked’, he hasn’t had a good sleep in months, among other health problems.
“It’s a noise that you can’t hear, but you can feel it,” he said. “To anyone looking at having one of these things near them, they should think twice about the separation distance.”
McCarrel said locally, the 350-metre setbacks from homes is insufficient.
Instead, Ontario should adopt a minimum setback of a kilometre between homes and turbines, she said, to prevent any ill effect on either participating or non-participating land owners.
Dennis Sandford of Dundalk lives north of Shelburne, near a wind project that could number 160 turbines by the end of its final phase. Sanford said wind power companies have failed to connect with many residents, who are starting to have negative feelings about how the structures “˜dominate’ the landscape.
“They’re not sure what to think of it,” he said. “It’s dividing the community.”
Wind power is being forced upon Ontario for a number of reasons and the rural residents are feeling the impact; their complaints are going unheard, Sanford said.
He said the government is trying to score green political points with the majority of urban voters, allowing wind power companies to expand their market and profits and have a faulty turbine tax assessment system.
Engineer Bill Palmer also demonstrated a simulated turbine sound that fell under much skepticism and questions from the crowd.
After the presentation, Bruce Ribey, a Bruce Township resident leasing land to the Enbridge Wind Power Project, said the issue of property devaluation doesn’t make sense
“I’m certain there are people who will not buy in the Enbridge-proposed areas,” said Ribey. “But there are also people who will not buy within the vicinity of the nuclear plant. The turbines haven’t diminished my property value.”
Doug Duimering of Vestas Wind Systems told Marshall after the presentation that they’re working to resolve problems that arise.
“We’ve had a number of issues and we’re fixing it,” Duimering said.
When asked if the information brought forward raised cause for further research, he was blunt.
“We think the record is quite clear regarding wind turbines,” Duimering said.
“What was said was hear-say and misinformation.”
Patrick Jilesen’s farm in Saugeen Township will be within 350-metres of about five turbines. Jilesen said the meeting raised many questions on how livestock and farmers will deal with the turbines.
“We’re losing a lot of faith in government and the way it’s being presented,” he said. “It’s confusing. You don’t know what to believe anymore.”
Marshall said he’s not against wind power, only wind power projects that impact people in close proximity. To him, the answer was simple.
“If someone wants it, have them place it within 300 metres of your house, your building, but leave everyone else alone,” said Marshall.
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