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Opinion sought on turbine-related health issues  

The issue of wind turbines in Chatham-Kent continues to linger.

Council put off the issue of setbacks at its May 5 meeting and asked the health unit for more information about the devices.

Council has already approved a wind turbine project in the Port Alma area, but is looking to establish a policy in anticipation of future applications for turbines.

The municipality has the potential to be host to 250 turbines.

Coun. Jim Brown introduced a motion outlining setback proposals for any future wind turbine applications, but council deferred those motions until an agreement can be reached that removes the holding designation from any application.

Brown’s motion also calls for comments to be sent to council at least 30 days in advance of removing the holding designation. The motion would also prevent any planning applications on the issue from coming to council until the agreement is finalized.

The setbacks proposed included a distance of 1.5 kilometres from any residential or institutional zone, 500 metres from commercial zones, 750 metres from any dwelling, four kilometres for the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair shorelines and from property lines at a public road, two times the height of the turbines.

But Coun. Steve Pickard pointed out that if the setbacks proposed by Brown were adopted, he would be “shocked if there were any locations within Chatham-Kent where turbines would be allowed.”

Coun. Brian King said if the proposals were accepted, there would be angry farmers who had already taken out land leases for turbines, based on the setbacks used in the previous plans.

Colby’s comments criticized

Dr. David Colby, acting medical officer of health for Chatham-Kent, had been asked to comment on the health implications of wind turbines. His comments were criticized by Coun. Sheldon Parsons for not being substantiated scientifically.

“This issue needs more than a page and a half report,” Parsons said.

Council adopted a motion asking that the Chatham-Kent Health Board prepare a report on the potential effects of wind turbines.

“We have heard from people on both sides of the issue and they seem to contradict each other,” said Parsons.

“I want to hear from our own experts. I have to believe that our board of health will bring back a report that will protect the residents of Chatham-Kent.”

In his report Colby wrote: “Wind energy is a technology with no associated emissions, harmful pollutants or waste products. Increased reliance on wind energy reduces carbon dioxide emissions which contribute to global warming.”

Shadow flicker has been an issue, as some people have suggested it could induce seizures.

“But this rare phenomenon is associated with higher flicker frequencies than those associated with wind turbine rotation, so no problems are anticipated,” wrote Colby.

In regard to the potential hazard from ice adhering to turbine blades, Colby said setbacks established by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment are “very conservative and should reduce this hazard to an absolute minimum.”

In terms of noise emissions, Colby wrote that wind farm technology over the past decade has rendered mechanical noise from turbines “almost undetectable.”

King, chair of the Chatham-Kent Board of Health, said the board would be “happy” to bring a report back to council.

Brian Cleeve

Chatham This Week

20 May 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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