I am compelled to respond to the two recent letters published in The Scope related to the proposed wind turbine project in Innisfil.
Both letters imply that the Innisfil Wind Watchers, who are opposed to this project, are not concerned about climate change and our need for renewable energy and a greener future.
Not only are we concerned and committed to it, but several of us have demonstrated our commitment through actions. Two executive committee members operate green agricultural operations that are certified organic, my neighbour Gary Taylor has been extensively involved in the development of international policy related to climate change through his work with the United Nations, and several of us are utilizing alternative energy sources already. We are all advocates and demonstrated supporters of renewable energy and the imperative to combat global climate change. Our deep concern is that these wind turbine plants be located in appropriate areas, away from people and in areas of high wind capacity.
While your readers may consider this is a small wind operation, the truth is it is not a farm and I am concerned about this ‘greenwashing’. It is a wind turbine plant operation consisting of five turbines, each comparable in size to a 50-storey building. Schneider proposes to put these turbines within 250- metres of residences and 50- metres from property lines. Organizations such as the UN and other experts recommend setbacks at one to two kilometres.
They will be very visible to residences in Churchill and other areas of Innisfil, and in our view, will also be a major distraction to drivers on Highway 400. There does not appear to be any concern from the provincial government regarding the visual impact of these turbines. And the even more serious issue is the potential health and safety risks that are still nor fully researched. I suggest readers look into what is happening in Lincoln County right now, and the adverse health effects that are being reported.
The Ministry of Natural Resources, not our organization, has identified this area as a marginal wind area. Their data indicates that there are much better locations in Ontario, if wind strength is the measure. Perhaps Premier Dalton McGuinty should consider putting them on these vast tracts of uninhabited land that are being preserved in the north.
Government bodies are providing Schneider Power with subsidies and incentives and it is cost effective and expedient for them to locate close to a local distribution network to reduce transmission costs. But what happens when government policy changes and our tax dollars no longer subsidize these marginal operations?
We are not against Schneider Power. They are in the business of making money from wind power, maximizing profit to their shareholders and are utilizing the taxpayers dollars given by the government to create what we believe is a quick but ineffective fix for the pending energy crisis.
As Taylor stated in his letter to Minister George Smitherman, “The Minister may find the objections troubling, however as a resident and a person who has been involved in international environmental policy I find the minister’s attitude offensive. I support wind energy, however there are two major issues that have been ignored in Ontario. Adequate separation distances from habitation and lack of infrastructure in areas where greatest efficiency could be achieved with least conflict. Maximum political benefit with least effort appears to be the minister’s position as he attempts to run roughshod over legitimate concerns that could be accommodated by better policy development.”
Gaye Trombley, Innisfil Wind Watchers
23 July 2008
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