A Nova Scotia man and his family claim to have been left homeless after the noise from a nearby windfarm made his family home in Lower West Pubnico uninhabitable.
Daniel d’Entremont says that two of the 1.8-megawatt turbines that make up the 17 turbine farm, are located just 300 metres from his home. As a result he says that his children developed disruptive behaviour and his family’s health suffered.
D’Entremont’s angry that when councillors from the Municipality of Argyle, which covers Pubnico, developed their bylaw determining the location of wind turbines in relation to residential properties they came up with a 300-metre setback.
“They (council) were concerned about the siting of wind turbines so they went to Pincher Creek to look at the bylaws and came back and said 300 metres,” said d’Entremont.
But d’Entremont has since learned that the Municipal District of Pincher Creek in fact has two standards. The 300-metre setback only applies to property where the owner has chosen to accept royalties from allowing wind turbines on his land. A 600-metre setback applies to all other residential properties. Under Pincher’s guidelines d’Entremont’s house would fall under the 600-metre setback.
“I fully support wind energy and other renewable energy, but I cannot support the location,” d’Entremont said. “I don’t believe any family in Canada should be subjected to the torture that our children have.”
D’Entremont thinks that Pincher Creek has far better setback standards than his own municipality. In fact a sign that he erected on the road leading to his house reads “Are these windmills too close and too loud? Did our politicians research the effect of these windmills? Would Pincher Creek, Alberta have allowed this?”
However on reflection d’Entremont now thinks setbacks should be at least a kilometre, after all, he says, there’s plenty of space in Nova Scotia.
D’Entremont believes that his local municipality was so keen on staking its claim to having the first wind farm in Nova Scotia that it neglected to pay full consideration to the potential impacts on nearby residents.
At the start he said that most people didn’t even know that the wind farm was going up. A public consultation was held he said, but few people went and nobody realized what the impacts would be.
It was only in February last year, after the turbines went up, that d’Entremont started to notice some changes in his family. “Our ears were ringing, we had aching bones, joint pains. The children were not sleeping,” he said.
In the end the family moved from the $300,000 home that they had built themselves some 25 years ago to move in with relatives. Since then they’ve only returned to the house for four days.
Pincher Creek’s by-laws on wind turbine setbacks have influenced several municipalities. Over the past few years the MD has received visits from other communities as well as several phone inquiries on its bylaws.
One house that appears to have slipped through the MD’s planning guidelines is that of Cowley couple Glen and Vicki Smyth, who live alongside the turbines on Cowley Ridge.
According to MD Chief Administration Officer Loretta Thompson the Smyth’s house was built before the current turbine setbacks were in place.
While the turbines on Cowley Ridge are not as powerful as those beside d’Entremont’s home, they are rated at 1.6 megawatts compared to 1.8 at the Nova Scotia farm, the Smyths say that they’ve suffered no ill effects from living next door to a wind farm.
The couple started to build their house as the turbines were being installed. Vicki Smyth said that they knew that the turbines were being built and they had no problem with their future neighbours. She says that their house is around 100 metres from the nearest turbine.
“They’re pretty quiet neighbours. If the wind is blowing you can hear them,” she said.
“But we live on the west of them so you don’t hear them so much.”
As to the headaches and aches and pains that d’Entremont described, she said that none of her family had experienced any problems during the four years that they had lived alongside the turbines.
By Jocelyn Mercer
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