Fed up with what they call misinformation and half-truths, wind farm critics joined together for their own open house Monday night.
Approximately 100 people attended Aristo’s Banquet Hall in Chatham for a presentation on what has become a controversial topic within Chatham-Kent.
Event organizer Kim Iles said the number of proposed wind projects in the municipality has snowballed, leaving many residents with little recourse.
She stressed she supports renewable power, but that large-scale operations aren’t the answer.
“We’re not NIMBYs (not in my backyard),” she said. “We’re into green energy.”
Members for the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group took part, and there was literature and displays pleading for communities to take a second look.
Also shown was a British documentary, “The Wind Turbines are Coming,” which featured resident complaints on everything from visual distractions to noise – one person even comparing the sound to “Chinese water torture”.
Rick Siddall, chairman of Stewardship Kent, is also the director of the Maynard Avian Rehabilitation Centre.
Given his environmental background, he said he’s in a “strange position” to oppose wind energy.
However, he said Chatham-Kent is a unique location for many kinds of wildlife.
“There’s a real rush to do this,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult to do any sort of remedial impact.”
Siddall said the main issue isn’t birds colliding with turbines, but rather displacement from known resting grounds.
Erie Beach resident Larry Reaume believes there are too many unknowns associated with wind projects.
“I really don’t think the people of Chatham-Kent should be the guinea pigs,” he said.
Orval Beam, of Chatham, said he has another problem wind energy, in particular locating turbines in rural areas.
“It’s going to cut into the best farmland in Ontario,” he said.
Others raised questions about the efficiency and reliability of turbines, as well as long-term economic viability.
No councillors or municipal planning staff were in attendance Monday.
In February, Doug Desmond, who represents the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group, called for an environmental assessment (EA) for the entire municipality.
He has sent the request to both the environmental assessment branch and environmental approvals branch of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
In a previous interview with The Chatham Daily News, municipal planning consultant Tom Storey said he hasn’t heard of an entire municipality coming under an environmental assessment (EA).
He believes the process is already available through the Planning Act and Environmental Assessment Act to deal with the issues.
By Trevor Terfloth
11 March 2008
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